We all, at some point, have boasted to a co-worker about some impressive macro Google Analytics statistic.
It’s so exciting to login and see some brightly glowing green number and without a second thought, or really understanding why it’s green we share it with others. We are also rather quick to fall on the sword when we see these same macro numbers turn red. Whenever we use any type of measurement tool, knowing why it’s red or green is so important.
I have seen completely green dashboards that are masking tragic data. Likewise, red dashboards can be hiding successes. Now, I won’t go off the deep-end and complain about why I blame Google for our bipolar feelings. It’s not like a graduated color scheme would be that hard to build… But, I will review some glowing green reports that are hiding embarrassing truths.
All of the following data points will be from one website and I will step you through what I am finding.
Let say you look at Aug 1, 2015 to Oct 31, 2015 and compare to Aug 1, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014. Looking year over year, we see goals from Google organic are up 10% and sessions to the site are up 14%. Most might just call it a day and stop right there with a smile.
Starting with Organic Landing Pages
To understand your successes or failures in the search engines, you should first look at your top landing pages. From here, we can still see our same improvements, but we are breaking it down to all the individual ways visitors are entering the website. Remember, not everyone enters via your homepage.
In fact, the homepage of this site has actually lost traffic despite the site’s overall improvement. Now it’s rather clear that almost all of the site’s improvement was from one page. The 93 more impressions or 14.37% growth we are seeing is actually one page that is showing more than a 200 session improvement. Yes, that means the other pages of the site are actually contracting at a rate that is eating into the gains of this top page. We can also see that this page has a noticeably lower time on site and never generated a single conversion. Sounds like an embarrassing truth to me!
The action to take here is to audit the content or structure of concerning landing pages and fix.
Think of your website as a team where each page is a member. You can only have so many bad players before it starts to affect the overall performance. Landing page analyses help fix problems before they become large scale catastrophes.
Now let’s see how we are attracting different ages. Understanding the demographics of your site is a great way to validate that you are actually connecting with the audiences you are after. By looking at the graph below of ages of visitors, we can see this site does a great job attracting visitors over the age of 44, but has an abnormal mix.
When we compare the site’s data to the “Department of Labor and Statistics,” we see the site might be failing to connect with the younger workforce/market. Assuming you are not in a shrinking industry, this could be rather alarming.
Creating buyer personas and/or doing market research will help understand the frame of mind of all the users of your site. Until you know who they are and what problems they have, there could be little chance to connect with them and get them to convert.
Sample website age breakdown:
Department of Labor and Statistics:
Connecting with Old Friends
Another great metric we can get out of Google Analytics is new and returning visitors. When business is going great, you might have a 50/50 mix of new and returning visitors. Looking below at our example site, we can see only 12% of the visitors are returning, but the conversion rate of those returning visitors is almost 100% higher. We would expect this, but why do existing customers or users make up such a small portion? Do they find the site irrelevant? Because they leave and never come back…
The most common feedback I hear from clients is a large portion of their customer base has no idea of their full range of product offerings or services. Looking at graphs like this, I can see how they never really look at the site. It can be a shock to some seeing how little people visit their site after their first visit.
Getting existing customers to your site can be addressed with lead nurturing programs (like our program through SharpSpring), or creating valuable resources or content like calculators or product finders.
Make sure you don’t start and stop at macro statistics, especially in Google Analytics. There is always room for improvement – and successes or failures can often be hiding in the data.
- Do you know what pages are your best or worst? Organic Landing Page data can be a great start to understand how you are doing with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
- Do you know the demographics of your site’s visitors? Who converts, who doesn’t, and why?Remember, not all people are the same. Looking at demographics data and using buyer personas can help improve conversion rates and have better, long-term success for both your site and your business.
- How well do you get existing customers back to your site? Once you get a visitor/ customer don’t forget about them and make sure your site attracts them back! It’s easier (and less costly) to sell to current customers rather than attracting brand new ones from scratch.