How Google Analytics Can Make You the Life of the Party


Since I recommended everyone start the year off right by installing Google Analytics — see Your 2008 Web Marketing Plan for more on that — it only seems right that our first issue of the new year focuses on how Google Analytics (GA) can make you the life of the party…no lampshade required.

Whether you’re a wallflower or a wildwoman, GA can help you throw the perfect party for your guests and visitors.

Are you more popular or less popular than you once were?

Admittedly, most of us are no longer worried about which table we sit at in the cafeteria. But we are concerned about the popularity of our Web site, because the more traffic, the more opportunity for business.

To determine whether or not your traffic is on the rise, click the down arrow next to the date range on the Google Analytics dashboard. Then select “Date Range” under “Comparison” and choose a range, whether it’s a previous month or the year before.

Unlike Dr. Who, Google Analytics can’t travel through time; it can only record your site traffic beginning with the moment you installed it. If you’re brand new to GA, you’ll need to wait a few months before you can take advantage of this feature.

When are you boring?

At a cocktail party guests may not be able to escape your story of how the local paper featured a photo of you playing Guitar Hero; however, on the Web people will tune you out the moment they get bored. Your analytics report calls these “exit pages.” These represent the holes in your Web site colander.

To get a list of your leakiest holes, go to Content > Top Exit Pages. In a perfect world, the only exit page would be the thank you page someone sees after completing your contact form. Fortunately for the self-improvement industry, we don’t live in a perfect world.

You may be surprised to see some of your most popular pages–even your home page–on this list. This is not necessarily the end of the world. Lots of people will find your site through a search but quickly determine you don’t offer what they need. Others may just be looking for a phone number or directions.

However, if you want to reduce the exit rates of these pages and keep people at the party, here are some tips:

  • Make the page easy to read and navigate. Break up long paragraphs, use sub-headers for easy scanning and bullet list important information. Everyone loves a bullet list!
  • Remove the clutter. Too much information and too many options overwhelm visitors, sending them scrambling for the “Back” button on their browser toolbar.
  • Include a call-to-action. Whether it’s a link to a contact form, a request to call you or a buy now button, give people a specific action to take when they reach the bottom of a page.

What Will Keep Guests Hanging on Your Every Word?

If you navigate to Traffic Sources > Keywords you’ll see some of the most popular words and phrases people are using to find your site. Don’t stop at the first few items, but look at the “long tail” of keywords that drive traffic to your site.

By sorting through these searches you’ll start to see some themes emerge, anything from “how to set up an office pool” to “making your house burglar-proof.” Often the queries outweigh the amount of content you’ve put up on your site.

If there’s a subject you can expand on you have an opportunity to engage your guests and get more people in the door. You can develop an article for download to increase email subscriptions (“email bait”) or create and sell an ebook to get paid for your knowledge and experience.

In Conclusion

There are dozens, if not hundreds of ways Google Analytics can make you the life of any party…you just need to invest some time each week towards your future success. In fact, most reports can be automatically emailed to you on a regular basis, which makes keeping tabs on your traffic even easier.

To increase the power of Google Analytics even further, take the next step and set up GA Goals, as documented in Tracking Conversions: Does Your Web Site Turn Suspects Into Prospects?

If you haven’t set up GA yet, and would like some help doing so, please contact flyte today.

–Rich Brooks
President, flyte new media