Metrics - How To Evaluate Your Website10/24/2013
One way to try to improve your website is through guesswork – basically by checking in with your own idea’s about ease-of-use and your perspective of what it’s like to visit the site. A much stronger and scientific way to approach site optimization is with hard data, which can be achieved through various metric applications.
The most popular metric program by far, at least in the United States, is Google Analytics. The general features of GA deserve exploration, but several of the metrics available can be specifically helpful with the content marketing on your blog.
Google, however, is not the only game in town. Other applications have attempted to improve on the efforts set forth by Google, and some have arguably succeeded. It’s also not necessarily wise to feed all of the information about your site into Google’s servers, because – as opposed to a company focusing specifically on metrics – the Internet powerhouse can serve as a marketing competitor to you, using your own data.
Content metrics via Google Analytics
Laura MacPherson of Ideally shares five ideas for the use of metrics to evaluate the success of content strategies.
1. Sources of traffic
Getting a sense of what other sites are driving the most people to your own site is greatly helpful to determine whether your efforts on social media are working. Within Analytics, go to Reporting > Traffic Sources > Overview. On that page you get a general sense of how traffic is making its way to your site: typing in your web address, finding it on a Google search engine results page (SERP), or clicking through to you from another site. More detailed information is available via Sources > Referrals. Every site that pushes traffic to you is listed there, including your own efforts on social platforms. To get even more specific, go to Sources > Social > Landing Pages. On that page, you’ll see what particular content has had the most success drawing users from Facebook, Twitter, etc..
2. Content categories
Do you have an editorial calendar for your content? It’s a great way to organize it ahead of time, both for deadlines and to develop more sophisticated approaches to types of content. Within GA, navigate to Content > Site Content > All Pages. There you can look over what type of post generates the most traction. If you write down and compare this data over 90 days, you will know what works best.
3. Further interest
You don’t want people to visit your site once, dip in a toe, and then quickly depart before diving in. Inevitably some people will just be there to grab information, but even those visitors could be turned into sales if you can keep them circulating through your site for a longer period. See the stats on Audience > Visitors Flow. The Starting Page is where the visitors enter your site. From there, gray lines indicate navigation to additional pages, while red lines indicate an exit.
4. Getting old-fashioned
You don’t have to rely entirely on the Internet to generate your Web traffic. Instead, you can send out a mailer driving people through a specific URL. It’s easy through GA to determine your success rate. All you need to do is visit Content > Site Content > Landing Pages and see how much traffic has hit that URL. The URL can either be a page with original content or a replication of current content; what’s important is that you are sectioning it off for tracking.
5. Counting yourself out
You may want to make sure your own IP is exempted from the Analytics data. You can do this by generating a filter at Admin > View Profile > Filters.
Google Analytics alternatives
Mark Simon of Famous Bloggers advises website operators to jump ship from Google Analytics. He offers a number of metric solutions that you can use in addition to, or in place of, GA.
- Piwik – If money is tight, this option does not require any. Because it’s a free open source application, you can also play with the code if you like, crafting specific functionalities for your purposes.
- Mint – Mint is not free, but it’s not too expensive either. For $30, you get a system that is a little more user-friendly, along with support when you run into problems.
- Clicky – This application is great for access by cell phone, provides live data, and is laid out even better than Mint. You can get it for free, but Simon recommends upgrading to Pro for $60.
And another thing
Metrics are crucial to understanding visitor behavior on your site. You also need to make sure that your site is open for business and populating correctly at all times. Reliability requires an excellent hosting provider such as Certified Hosting. Why us? Because you're our point of focus.
By Kent Roberts