Dennis Zink: Scott, today we’re going to talk about website performance. How does one analyze their website?
Scott Gonnello: Well, there’s many ways to analyze your website. Number one, 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, but if you want to get more technical, you could drill down into Google Analytics. There’s a wealth of information that they provide that can give you a lot of information on how your website is performing.
Dennis Zink: What exactly is Google Analytics?
Scott Gonnello: Well, the short answer is it’s a tracking software. It tracks the traffic that’s coming in, it tells you how long they’ve been on the site, how many users, the bounce rate, pages per session, a whole bunch of information that you can utilize and play detective, so to speak, to see what’s working and what’s not working.
Dennis Zink: Is having Google Analytics the same as SEO, search engine optimization?
Scott Gonnello: The answer is absolutely yes and no. Having a library card in your wallet that you never go to the library doesn’t make you smarter unless you actually use it. Just having analytics, a lot of companies think that that’s SEO, that they’re doing SEO, but the reality is unless you’re actually looking at those numbers and doing something with them, it’s not really SEO.
Dennis Zink: How is analytics used to help SEO?
Scott Gonnello: Well, you can look at the traffic that’s coming in, how many users you’re getting per month, is that number going up or is it going down. Basically all these numbers you look at is for you to get an idea and start seeing trends and traffic patterns and what’s working and what’s not working. You might have a really high bounce rate and that means people don’t like your site, unless of course the phone is ringing off the hook from that bounce rate. There’s trends and there’s numbers but you have to know how to look at those.
Dennis Zink: How can the phone ring off the hook with the bounce rate? I don’t get that.
Scott Gonnello: Well, for instance if you’re doing an online sales and they 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.
Dennis Zink: What should the average website owner look at in Google Analytics?
Scott Gonnello: That’s a good question because when I talk to clients around the world, they don’t really understand the analytics. They say, “Well, we have Google Analytics in our site for new customers that we work with,” and they don’t really know what to look for or how to use that. Even if you just took the basics, and there’s two sides of it, one is your audience which gives you the numbers on who’s looking from where, when, all that information, and the other one is the acquisitions, how they’re finding you.
Let’s say on the audience side you look at your overview. It basically tells you a lot of things like how many people came to your site, how long did they stay on your site, how many pages did they look at, what was the bounce rate, that type of information. Just looking at that gives you a wealth of information and after the intimidation wears off, you can start to see trends and patterns. The acquisition side tells you where they’re coming from, how they’re finding you through the search engines, through referrals, through other websites, that type of information.
Dennis Zink: Let’s break down into the audience first and then the acquisition second. there’s a lot to cover there, if you could explain page views to start.
Scott Gonnello: Sure. If they come into your site and see one page and leave, that’s one page view. If they see two or three pages, that’s two or three page views. The more page views you have, the more engaging your website is, the more they’re researching you, they’re researching your products or service, they’re looking at more pages throughout your site. The larger page view number is a better number.
Fred Dunayer: Just to clarify, I don’t know that we explained it at the beginning, but if they do just view one page and then leave, is that the number that becomes your bounce rate?
Scott Gonnello: Yes. A bounce rate is when they hit your site, see one page and they leave. Now, that bounce rate ties in with the time on the site, sessions per user. If you have a bounce rate very high and a sessions time on the site very low, that means something’s not right. They go there and they leave instantly. That could be spam sites hitting you, that could be oh it’s not the page they were looking for, it’s not the company they were looking for or they’re really not impressed with that one page and they leave.