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DOES YOUR WEB SITE BEAT THE COMPETITION?

How do you compare to other Web sites in your industry?

Google Analytics provides loads of great information on how your Web site is performing. It lets you know whether your traffic is going up or down, how people are finding you, what search terms they’re using, what your conversion rate is, and so on.

But it didn’t offer the answer to a question I’m often asked: “how do I compare to other nursing homes/psychologists/furniture makers?” Until recently I’ve responded, “ummm…is that car on fire?” and then run away when the person turned her head.

But now, Google Analytics–the free traffic reports offered by Google–is offering benchmarking data so you can compare your results to the industry average.

The only catch is that to benchmark your site against your industry, you have to be willing to share your own data. No one sees your Web site’s traffic reports; rather this information is added to the vertical industry average in Google’s reports.

How do you set up benchmarking in Google Analytics?

  1. Get a Google Analytics account up and running.
  2. Click on “Edit Account and Data Sharing Settings” from the Google Analytics home page.
  3. Choose “Share my Google Analytics data…” and then check off “Anonymously with Google products and the benchmarking service.” Save your changes.
  4. Log into your Web site’s analytics. Under “Visitors” you’ll now find “Benchmarking,” still in beta at this writing.
  5. Choose your industry from the list provided.
  6. Compare your traffic to the industry average.

You can also compare yourself to other related industries. Unfortunately, you don’t appear to be able to compare yourself to multiple industries at the same time.

Also, you are only compared to “sites of similar size,” defined as “small, medium and large,” but no specifics on when you’ve left one classification and moved to the next. In fact, they don’t even tell you what classification your site is in.

How accurate is the data?

The data is only collected from companies that are running Google Analytics and have opted into the benchmarking service, so the sample size may still be relatively small. The more companies that share their data anonymously, the more accurate the data becomes.

It’s also not clear how Google assigns a business to a specific category. According to the help center:

When benchmarking is enabled, Google crawls the websites in the account then categorizes them by vertical and the amount of visits. The data is then made anonymous through aggregation.

How helpful are the reports?

The reports are pretty simple. They include comparisons on:

  • Number of visits
  • Number of page views
  • Number of pages/visit
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time spent on site
  • Percent of new visits

Whether more reports or more detail will be available in the future in anyone’s guess.

How can I best use these reports?

Despite their limitations, these reports are great for the marketing department as proof of their campaigns’ efficacy…or the need for a bigger budget, depending on the results. Small business owners can also benefit from knowing how they compare to the competition.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be overly concerned if your bounce rate is a little higher or your page views are a little lower than that of your competition. These are only indicators.

What’s more important is how many prospects you have in the pipeline, how many contracts you’re signing, and how profitable you are at the end of the year.

In Conclusion

Google Analytics benchmarking service is still listed in beta, so there will undoubtedly be lots of improvements made in the coming months, in functionality, quality of data, and documentation. If you’ve wondered how you stack up against the competition, this benchmarking tool is a great place to start.

If you’d like help setting up Google Analytics to measure your site’s success, contact flyte today.

–Rich Brooks
President, flyte new media

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