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Keeping up with web analytics and what metrics you should worry about is tough, almost as tough as trying to keep up with what’s in fashion now or who’s dating who in the celeb world. And web analytics shouldn’t be looked at as just something else to keep up with like Facebook, Twitter, Tout or any of the other many new social networks. It can be somewhat daunting at first, but it is definitely one thing that should be worked into everyone’s schedule on an at least a monthly, if not weekly, basis.
Everyone should be familiar with the basic metrics like visitors, page views, bounce rates, time on site, etc., but I want to share with you five metrics that you might want to start paying more attention to.
1. Page Load Speed:
You may already know about Pingdom’s Page Load Tool which gives you the ability to input a webpage to see how long it takes to load. This is a great tool for SEOs, developers and designers, but it’s not very scalable when you want to know about a large number of pages on your site. Well, say hello to ‘Site Speed’ in Google Analytics. I won’t go into large detail on how to implement this since Google has done a good job at that already. Having access to the average load times for all of your pages is extremely powerful. You can now easily pinpoint pages that take an extreme amount of time to load, and correct any issues on those pages. Keeping track of this metric should become a priority now that Google and Bing have acknowledged that they consider load speed in their ranking algorithms.
2. Site Search:
Site search isn’t a super new metric, but it does give you a glance into your customer’s and user’s minds. Many Content Management Systems like Drupal, WordPress and Joomla can track your site search so you will know what people are searching. Google Analytics can also track your site’s search terms just like your CMS, but what your CMS doesn’t give you, Google Analytics does. Google Analytics gives you the ability to see when and where in your user’s path they used your search. This can give you two huge advantages. First, it will give you all the terms users are searching, which you can then take and create specific landing pages targeted to those terms. Second, you will be able to see where the users are stumbling in their path through your site, which will allow you to add focused calls-to-action on those stumbling block pages.
3. New vs. Returning Visitors:
Again, this isn’t a brand spanking new metric that you haven’t been privy to, but it is a metric that you should keep tabs on frequently. Don’t be surprised to see your ‘Returning Visitors’ numbers continually climbing toward the stratosphere. This is a normal occurrence with sites that have a recognizable and memorable brand name, but don’t become complacent with just having return customers. You can’t let your main traffic source be returning customers. You must continue to advertise your products or services outside of your brand name so your customer base doesn’t become stagnant.
4. Number of Tweets, Shares and Likes:
Social media is here to stay and it is becoming more and more popular with Google and Bing. They both have said that they use social signals in their ranking algorithms. Of course, they say that it is a small factor now, but it will undoubtedly become a larger factor in the near future. There are many tools that can keep track of how active you are in the social realm: HootSuite, Raven Tools and SocialMention are just a few. Knowing who likes you, shares you and tweets you on Facebook and Twitter isn’t just for SEO, it is a huge branding tool. Getting your brand out to the masses is half the battle, and keeping track of your social campaigns is a necessity.
5. Click Density:
Getting people to your site may not be an issue for you, but what about keeping them on your site? What about getting them to click through to other pages? Once you have people on a targeted landing page, where are they clicking? Are they clicking on what you think they want, or are they clicking on something completely different than you expected? Google Analytics has a great built in ‘Site Overlay’ tool that gives you click density data as a visual overlay on your site. You can see exactly where people are clicking, and this gives you the opportunity to make informed decisions on what should be front and center and what your customers really want.
Ideally, every metric and every little bit of data is useful to someone, but choosing the right metrics for you to focus on depends on what is best for your business. Hopefully at least one of these metrics will give you an advantage on your competition along with a better understanding of your customers and how they interact with your website.