The first step to maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of your web site is to look at how the site is being used. Analytics software is the tool for learning exactly how your web site is being used by your visitors. An analytics package can tell you:
- How many visitors you had to your site for a given time period.
- How much time each visitor spent viewing your site.
- How many pages each visitor viewed.
- Where each visitor came from – ie. did they find you via a search engine, a search engine advertisement, a referral from a directory, or did they simply type your web address into their browser?
- The number of visitors to your website that were “new” – people who have never been to your site before – and the number of returning/repeat visitors.
- And about 1000 other things…
Analytics software is incredibly powerful, and it’s essential to the success of any website to have analytics installed and to study the results carefully. I can hear it now – “What’s the bad news, Jason? How much is it going to cost?” While there are some excellent pay options for analytics software, paying for analytics is probably overkill for small and medium size websites (sites with less than 500k visitors per month). Google Analytics is excellent quality, offers quite a bit of high-level analysis, and it’s completely free. That’s right – free. If you haven’t installed it on your web site already, we recommend you do so immediately. In addition to all of the above, you can use Google Analytics to:
- Track goals – set a goal for your web site visitors and track how many meet your goal. Often times, we use this feature to track lead generation.
- Track advertising – when we setup paid search advertisements, banner ads, etc., we always make sure to include variables so we can track clicks from whatever ads we run.
- See where your site is popular – Google Analytics can track the approximate geographic location of your visitors, so you can determine where in the USA (or the world) you should focus your advertising.
- Look for opportunities – Carefully studying analytics information often reveals high value keywords, high quality content, and areas where the web site should be improved.
Analytics info can also be overlaid with other tracking data to produce some reasonable demographic information. While the demographic capabilities with Google Analytics are somewhat limited, Quantcast offers a simple and free analytics system for determining some basic demographic data. Quantcast is great for buying (and selling) media – you can quickly determine if a website has your audience and target it effectively.
Quantcast isn’t terribly effective, however, if you’re not getting at least 5k visitors or so a month, so not all of our clients will find it useful. Still, it certainly can’t hurt to add it to your site. The bottom line: install analytics on your website right away. The information you gain will be invaluable, not to mention it gives your local Denver search engine experts something to sink their teeth into when it’s time to help you market your business online.