How Much Should You be Reading Into Web Analytics?

Amongst the business owners we work with, we tend to find that clients fall into one of two groups: those who pay little or no attention to the analytics coming from their business websites, and those who pay way too much attention to the statistics.

So how much should you be reading into web analytics? The short answer is that you should be watching just closely enough to spot any trends and increase your profitability. To see what we mean, consider the following examples:

  • A high bounce rate on one page or another could indicate that a stronger call to action is needed, that visitors are finding the information on that page confusing, or that you don’t have enough links to other resources.
  • Knowing which pages visitors typically arrive on and leave your site from could help you optimize them for conversions, but only if you have a sense of what keywords they searched to get there, and what they were looking for (and didn’t find) when they departed.
  • Having insight into which pages on your site are regularly bookmarked or e-mailed to others could show you which pieces of content visitors find most valuable, and which product areas you should expand on.

These are only a few examples, but they point to the need for balance. Having only half of the information about any of these issues – or none at all – could easily lead you to the wrong conclusions. On the other hand, reading too much into them, or changing your plans after only a couple of weeks of results, could prove disastrous.

In the end, our best advice is to get the best analytics package you can, but also to get expert advice and guidance when it comes to understanding the figures you see. After all, you do need lots of information to keep your business growing online… but what good is any of it if it isn’t helping you to increase sales?

Page Load Time Optimization….

As of 2010 Google is starting to apply a fair amount of weight to page load time. Google is making this a factor for a simple reason, if your page takes forever to load people aren’t going to wait and ultimately will close your site and move on to the next one.

Here are some things you can do to speed up your site:

-Combine all external Javascript (this may not be possible for some, but combine as much as possible).

-Specify image dimensions on all images. This way the browser doesn’t have to figure it out.

-Validate your website so crawlers don’t get confused with css/html errors.

-Don’t make references to external files/images

-Download the Firebug Firefox extension and install the Page Speed app. This will tell you everything you need to know about how to make your pages load faster.

I would recommend starting with the home page and then working your way back to your most important pages (use Google Analytics and look at the top content report. Work your way down from there).

While optimizing your pages load time won’t be responsible for getting you on the first page, it’s one of many things that will help. It’s also great for your users who are on slower connections.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO isn’t just doing one thing right, it’s doing a bunch of things right that makes the difference. Incorporating a beautiful website design and a good SEO campaign will take your website to the next level.

SEO is like fine wine, it only gets better age!

I wrote this sentence in my last blog post and thought I would expand on it a little bit. This is often a term I used to put SEO in perspective for most new clients that I work with. Some people have been misinformed or lied to when it comes to SEO.

4 Misonceptions about SEO:

-#1 organic or natural search engine rankings can’t be obtained over night.

-You can’t buy your way to the top of natural/ogranic search. This is free reign and has been dominated by the SEO wizards for years.

-Immediate results. You won’t see results generally for 2-6 months unless you are in an industry that is very niche and has little competition both on and off the search engines.

-The keywords meta tag isn’t really important, so if you are a business owner doing SEO yourself, don’t waste to much time on it. Here is a link showing Matt Cutts, in charge web spam for Google saying that google doesn’t use the meta keywords tag at all for ranking purposes.

For a domain that is brand new, you shouldn’t expect any real significant results to determine ROI or other reports until 4-6 months. Domains that are brand new often get put in a sandbox that google uses in order to put spammy site in their search engine. After this waiting period, Google then gives them a shot.

For older domains, 1 year or older without a history of penalties or being blacklisted you should expect to see changes in your traffic within a few months. Generally the older a website is, the more trust Google will have.

When setting up a budget for SEO, you and your company should think about your industry and how competitive it is. In an industry such as mortgages or foreclosures, you will need to be very patient as there are a lot of websites vying for a piece of the search engines right now and you can expect to pay more due to the amount of work needed to be done by your SEO company in order to get you to the top. If you are in the business selling a new product or service that doesnt exist than your search engine wait time will probably be much less and the amount of work your SEO company needs to do in order to get you there will also be less.