How to Track Your Website’s Success
It takes a lot of time and effort to build a website, so it’s important to assess how well it is working. The term “web analytics” refers to collecting and analyzing data about your website, and using what you learn to improve the site’s performance. Whether you aim to improve sales, increase your social media presence, or engage more with customers, web analytics can show you what actions to take.
What to Track
Functionality: First of all, you want to make sure your site is in working order. On a regular basis you should check up-time (the availability of your website from different locations), page load time, error messages, and broken links. If you have a shopping cart or checkout, make sure it is working properly.
Traffic and Visitors: How many people are visiting your website? You want to be able to distinguish between unique visitors and repeat visitors to get an idea of the size of your audience. Tracking referrals will give you an idea of where your visitors are coming from, whether they are entering your site from links on blogs, paid advertising, search engines, social media, or other sources. Over time you can strengthen your use of the referrals that are working well and consider dropping those that are not worth the effort.
Conversion Rate: Every website has one or more calls to action, or specific goals that you want visitors to fulfill. The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that fulfill these calls to action by purchasing something, sharing your latest blog post, or taking whatever actions you want your visitors to take. This is probably the most important metric to monitor.
There are many other metrics you can track, but if you are new to web analytics, these three areas are a good place to start.
How to Track
You can check some of these parameters yourself, especially load time, broken links and error messages. Simply visit your site, see how the pages load, click on the links, and test the shopping cart and checkout page.
The good news is that you can track all of these metrics for free. There are a number of free services available online to help you improve the performance of your website, but the one most people turn to first is Google Analytics. This service also includes a help center and a blog to educate users about how to make web analytics work for them. If you don’t like how Google Analytics performs on certain tasks, there are many other free and paid services out there, and plenty of online reviews to help you choose. Yahoo Web Analytics offers the same service for free as well. All the other sites vary in price.
Simplifying Web Analytics
Web analytics can feel overwhelming at first. To simplify the process, choose one metric to track and gradually add others as the process becomes more familiar. Soon you will be gathering all the information you need to help your website reach its full potential.