Our previous posts explain that your website must tell your story quickly, remain up-to-date and collect contact information. Now, comes the final element: measuring results. And it is probably the easiest to set up.
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
Google’s amazing analytics and webmaster tools are free and give most businesses the data they need to understand how successful their website is and what could be done to improve it in the future.
Note: Google’s instructions thoroughly documented, that I won’t go through them here. However, here are the links:
Start With Existing Website (If You Have One)
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re considering building a new website or rebuilding an existing site. If you already have a site, now is the time to add Google Analytics to your site and sign up for Google Webmaster tools. Here’s why:
1. Create a baseline measurement – Capture a month or so of analytics data before you launch your new site. That way you can measure whether the new site improves your traffic or not, and why. Note: When you new site launches, you may see a short-term drop in traffic. It should get back to the baseline in a month or so.
2. If you don’t create redirects for all old pages, at least create redirects for linked pages – In Google Webmaster Tools, you can see which pages other websites are linking to. That means you need to “redirect” from those pages’ URLs to the new pages’ URLs.
For example, if your old site had a page: “http://www.worbox.com/team.html” and your new site’s URL for this same content is: “http://www.workbox.com/management-team.html”, you should create a “redirect” from team.html to management-team.html.
This isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and any good web builder will understand it. The important thing is to not lose those in-bound links – they are SEO gold!
One of the great things about Google’s Analytics service (other than being amazingly powerful and free) is that it includes lessons and tips about using the service and what the data means. “Conversion University” is particularly useful. It contains lessons about every aspect of Google Analytics, and again, it’s free!
Here are some of the things you can learn:
- How much traffic you are getting, what days, what times
- Which pages are most popular
- Where your traffic is coming from: direct links, Google, Bing, Yahoo!, other sites
- What keywords visitors are using to find you in Google
Honestly, this topic is so vast that I won’t bother going into details here. But, my message is simple: If you are at all serious about using your website as a marketing tool, you need to at least know the basics about Google Analytics.
Google Analytics “Goals” are not understood by many small businesses, but they are a powerful tool for measuring how effective your site is, not just from general and vague “traffic” but by tracking a specific action that you want visitors to take and that you can measure.
For many marketing websites, the most important goal is gathering sales leads. Typically this is done two ways : directly through a sales lead form (a “contact us” page form, for example), or indirectly through an email newsletter or some other “registration” or “sign up” form.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Make sure your lead gen form has a “thank you” page.
2. Create a “Goal” that uses your “thank you” page’s URL.
3. Review your Goal data after you send out an email, Facebook update or Tweet. What got you the most Goal conversions? Now you have the beginning of a true online marketing campaign!
Your website tells what you do accurately and quickly, you keep it up-to-date, you gather sales leads, and now you know what content and online marketing techniques work best for you. You are truly on your way to targeted online domination!
All the posts in this series: