Utilising Google Analytics to the full should be an integral part of your everyday online activities. It is all good and well creating an attractive WordPress website, churning out regular content but if you don’t know who is reading it, which posts are popular and conversion rates, you are missing out. The whole idea behind any website should be to create a successful content strategy. Google Analytics, although there are also other analytic services, is central to this.
Google Analytics is a free service from Google which uses tracking ID installed on each of your website pages. This allows the collection of invaluable traffic data and use of additional services which Google continues to expand on a regular basis. You can install a tracking ID manually or automatically using a WordPress Google Analytics plug-in. It is a simple process if you have a self-hosted site. As soon as your website tracking ID has been confirmed with Google, you will have access to ongoing traffic data. The next question then is, how can you use this data to improve your website?
As soon as you release any information online it is available to any Internet user across the globe. While you might be based for example in the US and focus on the US market, you may well have a growing fan base in other areas of the world. It is therefore vital that you utilise the country information accumulated by Google Analytics. In many cases, this data can be split into specific cities. If you know where the vast majority of your visitors are coming from this may give you a better understanding of what to give them.
Imagine the scene, there are specific events related to your website occurring in a particular country or city. If you are aware your content is well accepted in that particular city then you have an open door to create content focused on your subject matter. By incorporating the city name into the content, you will improve you search engine optimisation leading to focused traffic. This is also a great tool to improve your website’s ranking in search engines, with hard analytics.
Have you have ever written a blog post, sat back, patted yourself on the back and waited for the traffic to come in? There will no doubt have been occasions where your hopes for a particular blog or type of content failed to live up to expectations. It is imperative that you continually monitor both your most popular content pages and those which are perhaps struggling. The most popular pages will give you an idea of the key terms you are ranking for, what your visitors are reading and maybe offer opportunities to expand into other areas.
Alternatively, you may have content which attracts little in the way of traffic even though it contains useful information. It may simply be a case of tweaking keywords, adjusting the content or even adding images, all of which will help search engine optimisation. Monitor your least popular pages. Making relatively small tweaks, can be as lucrative as pursuing your more popular subject matter.
When setting up your WordPress site you will have the option to add a variety of feeds to which your new content will be sent. This ensures that initially there is as wide an audience as possible. Plus search engine listings will likely create the bulk of your traffic in the longer term.
“Imagine if you were able to see the most active days and the most active times for your website. How useful would that be?”
Well, Google Analytics offers the option to look at specific dates, monitor the most active times on your website. It can therefore give insights on the optimum moment at which to release your content. Relative success and failure when it comes to website traffic very often hinges on small variations. If you can release your content when your readers/visitors are at their most active and open, this can give you an edge over your competitors. In some cases, it could mean the difference between success and failure. If you are releasing time critical news which your competitors will also be covering, this is the game changer.
There is a little-known Google Analytics statistic which many people fail to appreciate which is the bounce rate. This is a very basic means by which you can monitor how popular individual pages of your website are with visitors. The process is simple, if a visitor clicks on a particular page and then immediately leaves this indicates they have not read the page – leading to a high bounce rate. On the flipside of the coin, if a visitor remains on a particular page for even more than just a few seconds this reflects the degree of popularity. You should aim for a low bounce rate although acceptable levels will depend upon the type of website and subject matter covered.
An indicative rule of thumb suggests that a bounce rate between 26% and 40% is above average, 41% to 55% is around average, 56% to 70% is higher than average and anything over 70% requires significant attention.
When looking at your WordPress website, recent traffic and growth plans for the future, very often we are stuck in the now. Do you know the progress you have made over the last two months? What about the progress over the last 12 months? From the date that you install Google Analytics on your website you can compare and contrast traffic between individual days or set periods.
A useful time frame when comparing your website traffic is 30 days which covers a full month. You can compare the most recent 30-day period with the one just prior. If you choose, you can even compare with the same period 12 months prior. Think about it, if you don’t know where you have come from in terms of traffic, how will you be able to forecast where you want to be? While there is a risk of getting too caught up in statistics, comparing and contrasting traffic data from previous periods and previous years, the data is often an eye-opener.
As you monitor your WordPress website traffic you will come across occasions where there is a significant spike in activity. In basic terms this can indicate one of two things, either one or more of your content pages has gone viral or your website has been the subject of an attempted hack. Either way, you need to do more research.
With viral content you should be able to identify a specific website from which the majority of traffic is coming from via Google Analytics. Even if the website address looks “natural” do a search on Google to ensure it is a safe website to visit. Assuming everything is safe and sound; take a look at the web page on that site which seems to have been supplying high levels of traffic. It may be that your content has been identified as a source of great knowledge. You could even be directly mentioned by a visitor to that website. If so, it may be sensible to approach the website directly and see if there are any other ways you can work together in the future. Back links are the food that keeps your website growing.
If you find out the spike in traffic relates to a specific country and perhaps a specific page on your site, such as the login page, be very careful. Contact your web hosting company and ask them to check your server logs for evidence of an attempted hack. This might also allow you to collate IP addresses connected with an attempted hack that you can add to your “blacklist”. This effectively bans them from accessing your website in the future. So, while Google Analytics is able to identify success stories on your website it can also enhance your long-term security by alerting you to potential issues.
Whether you have an e-commerce site, or a blog, it is likely that you have one or more income streams available to you. New and informative content allows you to attract new visitors. Still, once they are on your website it is up to you to direct them to your more lucrative pages. This is when creating a “sales funnels” comes in handy. Utilise an array of different content pages to channel visitors towards your sales pages. The best means to do this is via your more popular content pages. Identifying this content is an area in which Google Analytics excels.
The ability to attract ever-increasing traffic to your website is a great start but at some point, you do need to convert that into income. Creating multiple sales funnels allows you to “strike while the iron is hot” in the heat of user engagement. Remember, engaged visitors are more likely to spend.
Bringing together all of the above elements, and even more data available through Google Analytics, allows you to create pinpoint accurate content for your visitors. While all traffic should be appreciated it is focused traffic which is more likely to convert into income. The best analogy would be a shop with multiple doors of entry. The entry points are your content pages and as with a shop you need to channel your visitors towards the sales areas as soon as possible. Catch them while they are eager to spend.