Website Analytics February 24th, 2010
As website analysts our focus is on one main goal – to improve website conversion. Whether it is by improving content or increasing marketing campaign effectiveness we are always looking for ways to bring more business via online efforts.
In order to make improvements we need to understand what people are currently doing on your web site, how they found you, and whether their visit was successful in converting the visitor. This means that it is essential to measure every visitor interaction accurately. The way your site is designed will directly affect this!
Here are my five top tips for improving measurement with good website design.
Web analytic programs such as Google or Yahoo! Analytics record page views using the URL as an identifier. If your website is designed in Flash or perhaps using page elements that change within the same URL, it can be difficult to measure what visitors are doing. If you cannot see whether they are viewing different sections or pages of the site then you have no understanding of whether visitors are engaged or not and in the worst case, site visits will all be appearing as bounces (off the page) because the URLs has not changed.
I should also point out that your SEO strategy should tie in with your URL page naming. This is a critical component of good optimization and should not be overlooked.
In order to ensure that you can measure whether someone has carried out a predefined goal on your web site, you need to make sure that it is easily trackable by your web analytics package.
Here are some examples of conversion goals;
a) a click on a specific page
b) a download of an information sheet
c) or submission of an email lead
When you design your web site you should make sure you are able to track goals easily. For examplel, to track a file download or the submission of a lead, send your visitor to a “thank you” page. By recording the number of successful visits you will know whether a goal has been reached.
Make sure that ALL contact is tracked. There is a huge temptation to plaster ‘mailto:’ email addresses and phone numbers all over a website. Ensure you record events as goals (yes- phone calls can be recorded as goals in an analytics profile!) otherwise you will not be realizing the full value of your online efforts.
Try and maintain a consistent, high quality goal. You will be trending data over periods of time and if you change your goal settings, you may not be comparing apples to apples at a later date.
All pages of your website should be tagged with your web analytics tracking code. In order to make this as easy as possible, design your site with “includes” in each page that reference your tracking code in a single file (or possibly multiple files if you are using content grouping – see below) with your tracking code.
If you place your code within the individual pages themselves then it can be a nightmare making site wide modifications. Make it as easy as possible to manage tracking codes by having them managed withing an include file.
When you have a number of different products or services on your site there is great benefit in understanding how a category or group is doing as a whole. For example; shoes compared to shirts, specific brands of shoes, phone accessories or even vacation houses by the lake, compared to the mountains.
You can track this in a number of ways however, all affect the design of your site.
a) Design categories within subfolders for easy segmentation.
b) Use URL renaming at a profile level or
c) Use your tracking code with custom variables to allow easy content grouping.
Your developers need to know these details when designing layout and structure.
When you are designing your website layout there should be considerable care in ensuring that you use individual pages that define your services in detail. Some call this building effective landing pages, I call it common sense. By focusing your content on a page around a single service or product your search engine results will more likely reflect what visitors are searching for and when they reach your site they are likely to “stick” rather than bounce off your web site.
If you vaguely group multiple services together on one page you risk search engines diluting your ranking and visitors not really understanding that you provide EXACTLY what they are after and bouncing off to other web sites.
75% of new customers have major issues with usability and content. By using keyword analysis we can understand what visitors are looking for and suggest adjustments.
Design your website with search engine traffic in mind and have a landing page approach with your site content.
These 5 tips are intended to help make sure your site design is measurement and conversion friendly. By bringing these factors into the design process at an early stage you will be more successful in understanding your website performance and be able to make improvements!
This is what we do as part of our SMART PLAN process and shoudl be what your internet marketking or web development company is doing if they are interested in building your online success!