Analytics & Taking Your Website to the Next Level
When you’re starting a business or organization, building a website is one of the most important (and exciting!) first steps. But once you have your site up and running… what then? How do you make this investment actually work for you and become an effective tool?
There are a lot of potential answers to that question. To find them, it comes down to this: you have to regularly evaluate the performance of your website—and use that data to build a strategy to make it perform better. And you know how we love making things better!
For a look at this in practice, let’s dive into a project with one of our favorite (not that we have favorites!) clients: Brehob Corporation.
Using Data to Identify Opportunities
With locations all over the Midwest and 60+ years of industry experience, Brehob Corporation is a leading distributor of electric motors, air compressors, and cranes & hoists. Over the years, they’ve built up a stellar reputation and a loyal client base, but most of their business happens face-to-face or through more traditional channels, like over the phone. Now we want to expand their reach in the digital landscape and drive new traffic to their website, specifically through search engines.
Our plan of attack? Spend time each month analyzing site performance and visitor behavior, then use that research to identify priorities and opportunities where a little bit of effort might lead to big results.
When we first started, Brehob’s site had been live with Google Analytics and Google Search Console tracking for about six months, giving us some data we could jump into. Here are just a few of the areas where we dug out the ol’ magnifying glass (and which we’re still exploring on a regular basis):
- Pages with high bounce rates or low average time on page, indicating that visitors aren’t finding what they need. These pages are prime targets for content revision and optimization to ensure the right people are finding the right content at the right time.
- Our most visited pages. We know our visitors find these pages useful—by optimizing the pages with important keywords that have high search volume, we can bring in even more visitors through search.
- The keywords Brehob is showing up in search engines for but aren’t earning any clicks. These pages often need title tag and meta description revisions to better meet the needs of searchers and entice people to click on our result. In some cases, these keywords indicate that we’re targeting the wrong audience and that our content needs to be revised and re-optimized to target the right people.
- Keywords we aren’t really getting any impressions for or our average ranking is low. If these are priority keywords, we can take a look at the pages and make sure we’re following best practices for on-site optimization and keyword usage.
- Crawl errors. Usually, these are pages that no longer exist, leading to a bad user experience and the potential loss of rankings or SEO value. These URLs need to be redirected to a relevant page.
Having the opportunity to analyze results and make improvements over time means we can develop long-term strategies. Search engine optimization (SEO) typically takes 4-12 months to show results, and Google makes hundreds of adjustments to its algorithm every year. Because we’re touching base with the data each month, we can catch changes, make adjustments, and identify new insights as they develop.
For the last year, we’ve been steadily making improvements, using data and our understanding of Brehob’s business goals to prioritize our efforts so we’re making the changes that will have the biggest impact on growth. Though this is a long-term strategy and we’re just getting started, we’re already seeing results.
A website is never done—it can always be better and you’re always learning new things about your visitors!
In fact, in January of 2017 alone, Brehob saw 37% growth year-over-year in new visitors coming from search engines; for Q1, it was 23% growth. Likewise, we’ve steadily increased the number of keywords for which we appear in Google, which means we’re casting a wider net for potential visitors.
The number of keywords ranking over the last year, as reported by SEMrush
Though we’ve been focusing on search engine optimization, many of the changes we’ve implemented have also been great for user experience, social media, content marketing, PPC, and more—you’d be surprised how much overlap there is between SEO best practices and other areas of marketing! And now that we’ve started to increase traffic, we can direct our attention towards improving conversion rates, again using data to make decisions.
Some Takeaways for Website Owners
So, how can you apply this practice to your own site? I hear what you’re thinking: “That’s nice in theory, but I don’t have time to constantly be digging around in analytics.”
You’re right—analyzing results takes time and resources. But whether you want more traffic, better leads, or more engagement on your site, website analytics and other site data can help you find answers and develop a plan that will actually produce results. Don’t waste time and effort working on the wrong things! Make your work matter by finding what moves the needle.
The good news is that even a little bit of analysis can lead to great insights. Here are some steps to get you moving towards actionable data.
How to Get Started
- Make sure you have some kind of analytics set up on your site. Google Analytics is easy to install—and free. Google Search Console is another great tool for collecting data about keyword performance and search impressions.
- Find someone to help you look under the hood, whether that’s someone in your organization or an external resource like the team here at Willow. Taking a quick peek at the data can reveal a lot of actionable insights.
- Ask questions about your analytics and other data. How are people getting to your site? What are your most-viewed pages? When do people leave the site?
- Integrate what you learn from your analytics into your existing marketing strategy. Not sure how to do this? That’s something we can help you with, too.
You know that old saying about how a watched pot never boils? When it comes to websites, that’s an old wives tale. When you have eyes on your data, you’ve got a much better shot at making your website…er…boil. Happy analyzing!
Want help analyzing your site’s data? Reach out!