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Our most recent podcast episode, Analyzing Web Performance, host Dennis Zink chats with SEO consultant Scott Gonnello about how to evaluate the performance of your small business website.

The discussion between Zink and Gonnello is a great refresher for business owners to build confidence in the metrics you’re examining on Google Analytics or similar dashboards. But while the numbers and charts are helpful, you’ll need to perform some analysis of your own to determine how your web presence affects your bottom line.

Take a Holistic Approach to Web Performance

“There’s many ways to analyze your website,” Gonnello said, emphasizing that analyzing your web performance requires more than starting at graphs on the screen. “If your sales are going through the roof, if your phone calls are coming in, getting a lot of email requests, those are all ways to verify that it’s working.”

The holistic approach combines the power of automatically-performed analytics with the power of your gut intuition as a business owner. If Google Analytics shows healthy audience interaction with your website, but no one’s walking in the door or calling your business, there’s a problem somewhere in the system. It’s up to you to put on your detective cap and figure out the disconnect between creating awareness and attracting a loyal customer.

The Positive Side of Bounce Rates

Your intuition can help you determine how strange numbers in your analytics dashboard are reflecting your business performance.

Take bounce rates, for example. Typically a high bounce rate means that visitors aren’t spending much time on a particular page of your website. But there are exceptions to the rule. “You might have a really high bounce rate and that means people don’t like your site,” Gonnello said, “Unless of course the phone is ringing off the hook from that bounce rate.”

He explains, “For instance if you’re doing online sales and [your customers] search for a page online and they find that one page and they make the call right there, or they place the order right there, in that case, that’s not a bad bounce rate.”

But Time is Money -- Can Your Website Convert?

When a visitor arrives at your website, you don’t have much time to convince them that you’re the best person for the job at hand. “The average session for most of small businesses around the country is a small number, because [visitors] basically are looking for a product or service,” Gonnello says. “They find it, they look at a couple of pages, and within a minute or two minutes they’re calling or they’re emailing, or they’re leaving. It’s just like when you meet someone. You kind of know within a couple of seconds if this person is trustworthy.”

Balance Analytics by Seeking Customer Feedback

What if you’re looking at the numbers for your web traffic, but you’re still not sure what’s working?

Ask your customers. After all, something about your initial presence convinced them to pick up the phone or visit.

Have an email newsletter? When someone signs up online ask how they found you; a drop-down list with options like “website,” “Twitter,” “radio ad,” and so on can help visitors answer the question quickly.

Have an online form for visitors to contact you about your services? Ask how they first heard about you. Meeting a customer in person for the first time? Ask them what prompted them to call on you. When a customer completes a purchase, ask them how satisfied they were with their online experience.

By combining these personal customer experiences with your web analytics, you’ll have a better picture of how your business is performing online.

Learn more by listening to the entire episode. Want to learn more about analyzing web performance? Check out our guide, “How to Use Web Analytics,” or our “Google Analytics Beginners” workshop.