Taking action on your site analytics

November 9, 2013 |

Using Google Analytics or some other Analytics software has become a must when building a site but are you using that information for more than just watching how much traffic you’re getting? Take a look at some possible actions you can take based on your site’s performance.

There are several different kinds of site Analytics available to you to include in your site. Some free options would be Google Analytics or Clicky. There are some paid options available too with Optimizely or Crazy Egg. In most cases we use Google Analytics on the sites we make at Zwelly simply because I feel like you can’t beat their free solution. The only bad part about any analytics software is that there’s so much information you can get from it that it’s almost too overwhelming to figure out what it means or what to do.

The only bad part about it is that there’s so much information you can get from it that it’s almost overwhelming.

So, I’m going to explain some of the info you can get from it and how to act upon your site’s performance statistics. The stat explanations in this article work for other analytics tools as well. They all generally keep track of the same information so I’ll explain the more important ones.

Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet

This stat will tell you the percentage of people that view your site from mobile, tablets and from desktop computers. With the rise of responsive websites this stat is not as important as it used to be.

Action to take

Responsive (or fluid sites) are what I believe the present and future look like. With that said If you aren’t currently developing for mobile and tablets you should seriously reconsider. It does take a bit more time but the usability factor of your site goes way up and thus you have happier users. On the other hand if you run a site that is specifically for desktop users, maybe you have one of the rare exceptions.

Page Views

Not to be confused with “Visitors”, page views count the total pages viewed by your visitors. Aside from relaying this info to your advertisers, page views aren’t really something you can act on. It’s more of a final result of if your actions to make a successful site are proven successful.

Action to take

If your page views are lower than you’d like, read this article over and over again until you realize it’s time to make some changes.

Browser/OS

This is a very important one that gets my attention on every redesign. This tells us as the developers which browser and operating system to make sure we test thoroughly. We test on all modern browsers no matter what but this gives us an idea of which features may not be useful on sites with users of minority browsers. For instance if most of your users are using Internet explorer version 6, then we know we can’t use all the same bells and whistles that we’re capable of. This is becoming less of an issue as time goes on as less people are using outdated browsers.

Action to take

Make your users update their browsers! If only it were that easy.

To put it simply, you need to make sure your site works for ALL users that could be considered your target audience. Many people feel like they have to sacrifice design on their site just because of those people that don’t update their browsers, but I believe that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It will force you to keep things a little more simple and we all know there’s a lot of sites that could use more simplicity. Make sure all modern features, like button rollovers, have an alternate version for older browsers.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that visit only a single page in your site and then leave. This one can go either way seeing that people may have found the information they were looking for on that single page and then left. If your bounce rate is high it can mean a few different things.

  • You have a single page site…obviously your bounce rate will be 100%
  • Users are finding what they need immediately and are off to their next adventure.
  • Your content was so insulting/incorrect/useless they just couldn’t bear to see another page. (Hopefully, this isn’t the case)
  • Your message or call to action is not clear enough
  • The reasons go on and on but these are a few.
Action to take

Some things you can do to lower your bounce rate are:

  • Make sure your site is clear and the design is made for a great UX (User Experience). This includes a simple navigation.
  • Make sure the site is loading in an adequate amount of time.
  • Try removing distractions such as pop-up ads or background audio (I really hope you don’t have background audio).

New VS. Returning User

In most circumstances you want to convert new visitors into returning visitors. So, if you notice a high amount of new users over returning users, there may be a problem with engagement on your site, you may have an SEO problem or maybe just a marketing problem all around.

Action to take

Overall you can see here that content and marketing go hand in hand for this statistic and both are extremely crucial to get both new and returning users. You could try some of the following to help.

  • Make sure you’re adding new content often. Even if you don’t have a bunch of users, show people you’re consistent.
  • Adding to the above, make sure you’re content is useful to the user. Nobody likes thoughtless “fluff” content.

Country and City Demographics

Country and City Demographics will tell you the areas that people are viewing your site by country, state and city. This information can help you figure out if you are successfully reaching a certain area that you are targeting. It can also help you figure out what areas you’re making the biggest impact on and you might be able to do something with that knowledge.

Action to take

As an example, if you have a t-shirt business site and you’re noticing that Columbus, Ohio is an area that views your site the most then you might want to start selling more shirts that say “O-H!” on them, and even feature them on the homepage. For those of you that don’t get that check out this link.

Visit Duration

This information will tell you how long the average visitor is viewing your site. This is usually between 30-200 seconds. Anything less than a min tells you that you are not engaging users to stay and check the whole site out.  If a user doesn’t clearly know where to go after reading one page or section they will probably just go on to the next site.

Action to take

  • Reevaluate your content. Maybe it’s time for a change
  • As with bounce rate, make sure there’s a clear flow to your site.

Visits by Page

This area allows you to see which pages are being visited most on your site and how much time is spent on those pages.  You might even realize that people are not getting to a page that you consider to be important. If that’s the case it could be time to take a look at the structure of the entire site and see if you can make that information more visible to the users.

Action to take

This information tells you which pages you might want to feature on your home page or main navigation.

Exit %

This tells you what % of people left your site from a specific page. If you notice 90% of people exit after being on a certain page there’s definitely a problem with that page.  There’s obviously something on that page that makes them not want to continue looking through the site. People obviously have to leave the site at some point but pay extra attention to any high percentage exit rates.

Action to take

Similar to Bounce Rate:

  • Make sure your site is clear and the design is made for a great UX, including a simple navigation.
  • Reevaluate the content on the under performing page or possibly even the layout of that page.
  • Make sure the site is loading in an adequate amount of time.
  • Try removing distractions such as pop-up ads or background audio (I really hope you don’t have background audio).

Language

Language can be very important if you find that you’re getting multiple languages to your site. This really depends on what your target audience is but if you run a local bakery in a 99% English speaking area you may not be as interested in making your site available in other languages. However, if you run a nation wide T-shirt sales site you would want to have the site available for multiple languages.

Action to take

  • Make all text on your site selectable (not image text) so that browser translators and do their job correctly.
  • Make a special tab for visitors that do not speak the language of the site. Also, don’t make this difficult to find.

Traffic Sources

This is a very important one as you can see how people are getting to your site.  You’ll see how many people come through directly, how many people come in through search engines and how many come in through other sites. This is a part of seeing how your SEO is working.

Action to take
  • Make sure you’re using good SEO techniques like site linking (internal and external) and keyword repetition.
  • Maybe try advertising on other people’s pages.

Search Keywords

This is a very important info for SEO. You can see what people are searching for to get to your site. Some things you see on here maybe completely irrelevant to what your site is about but that’s alright, as long as MOST of the items are relevant. For instance, if you have a used music store you might want these keywords to appear on that list: Music, Used, Albums, Records, Album, etc…

Action to take

Make sure you’re using the best of SEO techniques such as key word repetition. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but if you consistently use a phrase or keyword combination then you have a good chance of ranking higher in search engines.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to take action if you aren’t getting the results you’re looking for from your site. Many people will see that they’re not getting the kind of stats they’d hoped and give up and stop everything. Instead of just giving up, give the actions above a try and I bet you’ll make some kind of impact for the better.

Resources

Tell us what you think

Do you have any other things you look for in analytics or “actionable” stats that you pay close attention to? Let us know down below in the comments.

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Post Written by Matt Vojacek

Matt is the founder/art director of Zwelly Co. since 2010. Matt is also currently a motion design and web freelance artist in Columbus, OH.

www.mattvojacek.com / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Linkedin