What is Google Analytics?
Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has developed an analytics system that they offer as a free service. Marketers and technologists from all industries have become attracted to Google Analytics, which has made it the most widely used statistics service, adopted by 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites in the world and 49.95% of the top 1,000,000 websites. (That last static was provided by Alexa.)
Google Analytics can track an array of statistics on your website; including referring traffic from search engines, display and pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing. Goals and funnels can also be created to keep track of conversions on your most important digital collateral.
And that’s not all… Google Analytics can show your total website traffic, how long the users stayed on your site, the amount of pages they viewed, your top landing pages, etc., etc. The list continues to go on.
What should you measure so that you know how to change things on your website to make it better?
Once the right people with the right intention have come to your site you then want them to do something. So the question you’re going to ask is what’s the intent that you’re targeting? For example, at Kiplinger, we publish personal finance information, so we’re interested in looking at people who are interested in personal finance acts, retirement, those kinds of topics. And obviously we want people who are interested in signing up for our email alerts or subscribing to one of our publications, so these are the kinds of intents for looking at that. And then what action do we want them to take?
Now you want to define your goal. What do you want people to do? Page views would be a good goal if you’re selling ads. Email alert signups would be if you want–if people come, and you spend a lot of money and you spend a lot of effort to get people to come to your site, you get them to sign up so you can communicate with them later.
New versus returning, are you trying to establish a relationship with a core of people or are you trying to brand yourself and reach out and reach a new audience? So those are all statistics that you might look at based on what kind of goals you have.
Now total unique visits is what you want to focus on. People have talked about things like hits. That’s a pretty meaningless statistic. Visits is good but you will really want to look at unique visitors. And when you look at unique visitors you want to evaluate them by the category, what kind of visitor they are, and by their source how did they get to your page in the first place?
Now the reason I mention this upfront is because there’s a million things you can look at in analytics. It’s amazing how you can get analytic insanity by going into all the little details that are available through your analytics package. You don’t want to pay attention to all that other stuff. You want to figure out what are the goals of your site and focus on those things and only look at the statistics that relate to your goals.
Would it be a good idea to use popular keywords in display ads whenever possible?
I believe so, because what I’ve read about display ads is that we want to track display ads by clicks. We want to say how many people have seen this ad, clicked on it, and then since they click on it that’s real convenient; I can track it. I can pass along a code. I can attribute it to the correct campaign. I can do all these neat things. But users don’t do that; when they see a display ad very few people click on them. They will either simply go to your website some other time or they will search on a term. They’ll search on a term related to your brand or they’ll just search on your brand term. You know I’ve watched people do some odd things in web browsers. When you ask someone would you go to www.kiplinger.com, a lot of people they think that Google is the beginning of the internet. They’ll go to Google and they’ll type www.kiplinger.com in the Google search bar, click search; it’ll come up as the first result and then they’ll go to your page. That’s what they think going to www.kiplinger.com means. So people do weird things, and when you advertise with display ads people are going to do weird stuff like that. They’re not necessarily going to click on the ad. They’re going to do other stuff.
So I think the idea of putting search terms that are good for your site organically to make sure that these are the terms that if somebody types them in they might click on the paid search, they might get on the organic search but it’s something where you’re going to come up in the top ranking.
How is the bounce rate determined?
There’s the bounce rate and there’s time onsite or time on page and you can see both those things in the analytics package. A page might have a very high bounce rate and still have a very high time on site. Someone might come stay on the page for quite a while and then leave. The bounce rate is determined when a visitor came to a page and then left without going to any other of your pages on your site. They may have stayed there a second. They may have stayed there a minute. They may have stayed there five minutes but they didn’t go to any of the other pages on your site.
If a user clicks a link that opens in a second window or tab and doesn’t click forward the new tab will it count against your bounce rate?
The question is whether it’s served on the same domain and whether you have the same analytics code on that page. I’m 95-percent certain of this. I don’t think it matters whether they’re opening another tab or another window. All that matter is it still on your domain and does it still have your analytic tracking code on that page. I don’t think they care whether it’s a new tab or a new window
What should my bounce rate be?
The truth is there is no rule of thumb. You can’t say your bounce rate should be X because all kinds of pages are different. You know differ by your type of site; a blog for example, you don’t expect people to move onto other pages, at least a lot of blogs. They’re just looking at the front page and they’re reading the stories on the front page and they don’t really feel a need to go further into your site. It might vary by type of page. If it’s a page that answers their question and that’s it and you haven’t provided any link to something else that’s different and you shouldn’t do that. But you’re going to have a different bounce rate on that page. And it varies by how you send the traffic to that page. I mentioned before that natural search gets better results, that is a lower bounce rate than paid search. But if you have a bunch of people linking to your site and you’re not controlling those links and they’re putting in all kinds of strange terms and promising weird things you might get a high bounce rate because that traffic is not very well qualified. So the important thing is not to worry so much about an absolute number. The important thing is to look at your bounce rates and improve them.