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Thu Jun 06 2019

Using Google Analytics to drive website changes

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Please note, this article is written about Universal Analytics. For information on Google Analytics 4, see here.

In digital marketing everything is trackable. You can easily compare past performance to gain insights into your current efforts. For a business to grow there is an ever-growing need for increased traffic, improvement in conversions, and most importantly, growth in revenue. Clearly, if this isn’t happening, changes to the website must be made, and fast. The question is, how do you know what to change and what should be a priority?

Measure Website Performance

Unless your website outranks its competitors on a search engine results page (SERP), you are missing out on visitors and in turn potential customers. Irrespective of whether the website is for lead generation for a service-based business or an eCommerce website, it is vital to know what people do (or don’t do) when they visit the website, how long they stay and what pages they visit.

Google Analytics is an excellent performance measurement tool. Instead of shooting in the dark, this online tool enables you to make data-based decisions that are guaranteed to enhance website performance.

Google Analytics includes real-time performance as well as historical comparisons. This allows you to quickly test and evaluate any changes to the website and helps steer you in the direction to prioritize changes.

Key Google Analytics Insights

Bounce Rates

One of the most important and simple pieces of data is the bounce rate. There is a problem when a large percentage of visitors only stay for a few seconds or navigate away after viewing a page. It means that visitors are coming to the website but are not finding what they are looking for.

A high bounce rate could indicate many things such as:

  • a mismatch between the meta-description on the SERP and the content on the website
  • the content of the site isn’t engaging enough
  • the visitor does not understand what you do (this is more common than you think)
  • the visitor does not understand what to do on your website (no clear call to action)

Looking at a website’s bounce rate is great for an average representation of the site but it doesn’t really help to understand what to improve. If you have a 2-page website and 1 page has a 1% bounce rate and the other page has a 99% bounce rate, the website’s bounce rate is 50% which isn’t bad. However, looking into the detail this shows that one page is great and the other is horrible. So, when looking at bounce rate with a focus to make website changes you should ALWAYS look on a page-by-page basis.

You can check this in Google Analytics by looking at Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages. Prioritize changing the pages with the highest traffic and the highest bounce rate – this shows the page is ranking well and lots of people are looking at it so you have the biggest opportunity.

Content is King

The converse is also important. The amount of time visitors spend on a single page indicates content that is relevant and engaging. It makes sense to replace underperforming content with more attention-grabbing content pieces.

While time on the page is not as valuable as the completion of a contact form or signing up for a newsletter it does help drive some changes. 

Look at what the content is intended to do, and by this I mean, is intended to help build your brand awareness, gain trust or convert a visitor. Knowing where the content sits in your sales funnel will help you understand what changes to make. If you’re looking for a piece on Sales Funnels and Conversion Tracking you can find more information in our ROI Conversion Tracking article.

If your content sits in the Awareness stage of your sales funnel, having a contact form to “Buy Our Service Today” probably is a long shot. You’d more so look to progress them through to the next stage of the funnel, Interest, so having a Signup To Our Newsletter in the sidebar will more likely yield better results.

If your content is about making a decision, these are generally really specific articles about a service, having a contact form with a dynamic heading on the sidebar such as “Request a Quote for XXX Today” would be best. If someone is looking at an article that is very specific then they aren’t ‘surfing’ for knowledge, they want to fix a problem so they are prime to convert.

User Flow

By tracking internal site searches, visitor likes and dislikes are revealed. This is important to know, otherwise, changes could be made to the wrong pages.

User flow also assists in the discovery of the visitor’s intention. Uncovering situations where customers commonly leave the site could reveal website weak spots like confusing content or inadequate calls-to-action.

Not having a next logical step or having too many next potential steps can cause visitors to leave your site.

Analyzing the most common User Flows in Google Analytics under Behavior -> Behavior Flow and cross-checking this against the Exit Pages will show where you have issues or opportunities. If you have hundreds of people navigate through the same three pages and then leave without engaging with you, that’s great – the perfect opportunity to put a signup form, contact form or add a next step to hold their attention longer.

Remember, your goal is to keep the conversation going by either keeping visitors on the site or gaining their details to continue the conversation and move them through your sales funnel.

Audience and Traffic Trends

This is a tough one to pick up but generally has one of two solutions.

The easy one is if you:

  • are not regularly posting great content
  • do not have a fast site (you can check on Google Page Speed)
  • do not have a mobile-friendly design; and
  • are not adhering to most of Google’s best practices

This can be easily fixed and is generally easy to identify. The harder one is public perception. We’ve worked with a number of clients over the years who were doing everything right but weren’t converting because of how they were perceived when someone landed on the site.

If you landed on a site and it looked old, dated or untrustworthy would you engage with the business? Of course not! If you are engaging with a business you prefer to work with one who looks like they are stable, established and polished. A good friend said to me one day when I was looking for a builder to do a renovation on a property “Go look at one of their current building sites and while you’re there, look in the back of their van. If their van is messy, the building site has stuff everywhere then chances are they are not organised and don’t have a good attention to detail so why risk hiring them to do your renovation”. The same is true on the web, if your website doesn’t look up to date and like you ‘have it together’ then potential clients will think the same. This goes for large and small companies and is quite hard to identify as it is subjective but when you know, you know.

Continual Website Improvement

Google Analytics moves website performance improvement beyond basic traffic and click-rate KPI criteria. With so much data at your disposal, how do you determine which changes will be most beneficial?

Every piece of data provided by Google Analytics should be evaluated within a bigger context before the findings are applied. This means constant vigilance and a focus on trending data every single day. Digital marketers will then be in a powerful position to make adjustments relevant to achieving specific goals.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear about your digital requirements. Even if you don’t quite know what you need, get in touch as we can help formulate a whole digital strategy to meet your business objectives.

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03 9090 7070

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