Measuring Your Website’s Success Part Two: Where did they come from?

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Using Google Analytics to help optimize your site is a little bit like working out. It’s not always fun but once you get started, find a groove and make it part of your routine, you will see positive changes. A little while back we started talking about understanding your online audience so that you can make measurable, actionable changes to your website. Now that we know a bit about what a “visitor” is we can start learning more about them.

Love your referring sites!

Let’s wander over to the “traffic sources” tab in Google Analytics. This section is chalk full of great information. Most of the report should be pretty straightforward but what does it mean and what should you do about it?

Direct – These are people who typed your web address directly into the address bar in their browser or they have your site bookmarked. These visitors know who you are and are coming to your site for a reason. The questions you should ask yourself is:”Did they find what they were looking for?” This is where I love having a search box on my site so I can start getting a sense of what people are looking for within my site, by monitoring the queries. If you don’t have a search box, pay attention to what pages people enter at, what they click on, and how long they stay on certain pages. Sometimes these stats will give you clues as to what your audience is after.

Referring sites – These visits are from websites that are linking to you. This can be incredibly valuable traffic. Make sure to reach out and thank referring sites and see if there is more potential link backs. Also, remember that links on other websites will boost your search engine ranking. Good referring links can be incredibly beneficial.

Search – This is typically divided into 2 categories: “Organic” which is natural search results and “Paid” search which is advertising such as Google Adwords. This section will give you an idea of what keywords people typed into search engines to find your site. It also gives you some insight into how your site is indexed by the search engines based on how people found you. I bet a lot of you will be surprised with what you see here if you have not checked this out before. This is one of those scenarios where your action will be based more on what you don’t see. What keywords are missing?

Social – This section will have some duplication from the referring sites section. However this one will focus on popular social media sites. Are your Facebook fans coming over to your site? Is that tweeting paying off? There is a lot of great information here depending on what your goals are.

Bottom line is that you can learn a lot from where people come from and what they do on your site. Got questions? Leave comments below and I’ll do the best I can to fill in the blanks!

Happy analytics!

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