Editor's Note: April Davis is a content producer at Webfirm, and joins us today to explain how Google Analytics can boost your online presence, and how to get started.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "a billboard in the middle of a desert?" It sounds like a ridiculous idea. Nobody would put a billboard in a desert because there's nobody in the desert to see it.
However, many businesses create "billboards in the desert" when they build a website and do nothing to bring visitors in.
One reason new webmasters face this problem is because they don't understand the tools bundled with their own website. This failure is especially true for Web analytics; while it may seem like a website is doing its job whether a human is paying attention or not, nothing is really that simple.
No digital marketing strategy is complete without effective reporting, because without transparency, how do you know what’s working and what’s not?
This is where tools like Google Analytics come in.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that allows you to measure - among many other variables - your website traffic. At first glance, this might not seem overly important or impressive. However, data from Google Analytics can help answer a number of key questions for website owners, including:
- How many people are visiting the website
- Where these visitors are located geographically
- Whether the site is effectively converting mobile customers
- What digital marketing tactics are driving the most web traffic (for example, PPC campaigns or social media marketing)
- Which web pages attract the most visitors
- How many web visitors have converted into an actual lead or sale
- What digital channels users are coming from
- Whether the website is fast enough, or takes too long to load
- If it has a blog, the type of content that brings in the most visitors?
In answering these questions, website owners are able to establish what does and doesn’t work, and what they can do to improve the effectiveness of both their website design and their digital marketing strategy.
There are a lot of online tools and content from Google that can help you to understand Google Analytics, but to really learn the ins and outs of this effective web analytics tool and similar applications, a Web Analytics Certification can prove invaluable.
How Can You Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Business's Online Presence?
So now that we know how important Google Analytics is in determining the objective of a website and targeting SEO efforts into the most effective channels, what are the benefits of applying it in everyday settings?
At its most basic level, Google Analytics provides the empirical data you need to make smart business decisions. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing research, so why would you invest in an AdWords campaign without first knowing which channels your web visitors are coming from?
When you dig a little deeper, you’ll quickly realize that Google Analytics comes with a host of other benefits.
Tracking the Movement of Your Users
Google Analytics allows you to track exactly what people are doing when they visit your website. For instance, you can see what pages they visit, how long they stay there and the total bounce rate. You’ll also be able to see how they navigate through your site.
This will help you understand what pages on your site that visitors engage with the most, and which ones they’re not really interested in. This consequently means that once again, you can shift your attention to what’s not working and fix whatever makes them lose interest. It might be that the bulk of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and your site isn’t mobile optimized, or it might mean the content on your website isn’t appealing to your target audience.
In addition to these points, Google Analytics’ data will also provide insights into the usability of your site and whether it’s quick to load and easy to navigate, or whether it’s taking too long to load and is difficult to navigate.
Gauging Your Target Audience Perception
What’s your target audience?
Let’s say you’re a wedding dress designer who is targeting women between the ages of 25-35. You’re also targeting women within your local area. You can determine the accuracy of your target audience perception by using the audience reports that can be found within Google Analytics. These reports include everything from user locations and age, to gender and even interests.
After looking at these metrics, you might realize that your target audience is actually a little different from what you thought it was. For example, you might have a lot of mature-aged brides in their 40s shopping for your gowns, or perhaps you have customers from outside your local area who are interested in your designs.
Thanks to Google Analytics, you’ll be able to learn as much as you possibly can about your target audience, so you can ensure your ads and campaigns encompass the interests of your audience, while also making sure you’re targeting the correct locations, devices and etc.
Better Allocation of Your Budget
Naturally enough, one of the biggest interests when it comes to analyzing website performance is determining how good return on investment (ROI) is. But how do you determine this, and how can you better allocate your budget to improve your ROI?
With Google Analytics, of course!
You’ll already be on track to improving your budget allocation when you nail steps listed in this article, but there are also reports available through Google Analytics that will offer you a percentage increase/decrease on your budget that’s dependent on the specific model of attribution you choose to use.
Once again, understanding your audience will also influence your budget allocation, as you might realise you need to be targeting users from different areas or with different interests.
How Can You Get Started with Google Analytics?
Getting started is easy; as there are no initial start-up costs and you can get started easily from the Google Analytics website. All you need to sign up is an existing or new Gmail account, and of course, a website to track. Then, you simply follow the provided steps.
For more in depth information on getting started with Google Analytics, consider a certification in Web Analytics. Our professionally guided classes will teach you everything you need to know to raise boost sales and raise ROI.