When I’m asked what I do for a living, I find myself getting tongue-tied, because I don’t do one particular thing— I am a freelance writer and a marketing consultant. While that may seem like an odd combo, it’s one that has served me well as I’ve learned a lot about content creation and the analytics behind running a successful website. I know how to balance compelling and creative content that can also drive traffic, email signups, and sales.
But I know for many bloggers and entrepreneurs, this is not the case. Maybe you want to spend your days sharing your latest style picks on your fashion blog. Or maybe you just want to sell as many bottles of your organic, cruelty-free magic moisturizer as possible. Most likely, you didn’t go into business just for the sake of learning how to become a successful marketer.
If you need a little extra support, check out Squarespace. Their digital tools help you create a professional, polished website so you never have to worry about broken code or struggling to make your website look good. Once your site is ready, you can use Squarespace’s impressive range of features to help you create content and promote your website, like the newly launched email campaign feature. Plus they have some amazing analytic tools that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else without spending a lot of extra money.
Luckily, you can manage your own website’s analytics if you have a little help getting started. I’m going to share my top ten tips for examining your website metrics and how you can utilize the information you’ve gained to help improve your website.
10 Important Ways to Look at Your Analytics
1. Know Where Your Traffic is Coming From
So you got your website some traffic. Congrats! It can be very exciting to see those page views going up, but if you want to keep them moving in that direction, it’s important to know where that traffic is coming from. You can see which social media channel is sending you the most traffic or you can start to understand the power of your email list better. You can also see if anyone else drove traffic to your website. It’s important to give your traffic sources a quick glance daily to see if you have a sudden surge of traffic from a digital publication or a certain social media channel. It will be a lot easier to track down where your site was promoted the day it happened versus a month later.
2. Value Time on Page
When it comes to website traffic, it’s easy to get swept up in trying to gain large numbers of site visitors. But as is usually the case, quality over quantity of traffic is what you should be striving for. One strong indicator of quality traffic is how much “time on page” is being spent by your users. For example, you may find that Twitter drives your website a ton of traffic. But if the average user coming from Twitter only stays on the page for ten seconds, it is not worth your time or money to focus on Twitter. However if your Facebook audience is highly engaged and spends an average of three minutes on the page they land on, then you should be focusing on growing your Facebook traffic. Even if the number of site visits is less impressive at first glance. In Squarespace, you can track three specific metrics: Visits (a single browsing session that could encompass multiple pageviews), Pageviews (the actual number of views for each specific page), and Unique Visitors (an estimate of the number of people who reached your site in a specific time period). Knowing how each of these metrics work and tracking them accordingly will help you hone in on your audience, how they interact with your site, and what content is most compelling to them.
3. Aim for More Pages Per Session
Another way to check the quality of your traffic is by looking at how many pages per session your visitors are viewing. The more pages they view per session (aka every time they visit) the stronger the quality of that traffic is. The same theory of channel quality applies here. The channels that give your website high pages-per-session traffic are your top quality channels. The goal when obtaining new users should be to keep those users on your site, viewing more of your content than just their initial landing page.
4. Understand Your Audience
If you do a little digging through your analytic tools, you can discover a lot of helpful information about your users. You can see their age, gender, location, what language they speak, and even what their interests are through many analytic programs. This will help you plan content, create marketing plans, and decide when to publish new blog posts or launch products. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger and find the majority of your users live in California, you may decide posting cold-weather themed outfits isn’t providing the most value to your customers. Or if you sell products and can see that most of your site visits come from a younger demographic, you may want to create marketing campaigns that appeal to your youthful clientele.
5. Create Campaigns
When you start going above and beyond with your marketing efforts, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. This is where tracking campaigns come in. Did you spend hours creating exciting new graphics for Facebook? Well, how do you know if those graphics helped drive more traffic? You can create a custom campaign to test that. Did you form an exciting partnership where you cross-promote each other’s websites? You can see just how much traffic they are sending you, and monitor the quality of that traffic, by creating a campaign with tracking links. Campaigns will help you judge if any changes you make in your marketing routine are worth the effort. Squarespace has also just launched email campaigns, meaning you can craft beautiful emails that target specific niches of your customers right from your Squarespace dashboard. WIN.
6. Create a Monthly Marketing Report
Maybe you don’t have a marketing team just yet. You’re probably moonlighting as your own marketing director, accountant, graphic designer, you name it. But, there are certain processes you should put in place early on, even if you’re the only one who will be taking part in them. By creating a monthly marketing report, you will be easily able to analyze your month-to-month or yearly growth. How many social media followers did you gain this month? How many site visits did you have? Did your average time on site improve? Is your email list growing? If so, did you check to see if site traffic coming from email is improving too? It’s important to track everything you want to analyze over the coming months on a monthly basis. Not only will you get a great view of your progress that month, but you won’t miss any important data this way.
7. Optimize Your Search Data
If you’re not familiar with how SEO (search engine optimization) works, then you may feel like any search traffic is a passive way of gaining traffic, and it can be! However, the more you know about what type of searches are leading to your site, the more you can use search engines to your advantage. In Squarespace, you can use your backend analytics to see which of your pages get the most site traffic. What keywords are leading them to that page? How high are your posts ranking in search? These are questions you can know the answers to when you take a deepdive into the numbers. Once you’ve analyzed your data, you can set up default structures for your content to ensure that you’re optimizing each page or blog post that you put up. For example — structure your content and blog posts with headings and sub-headings (in Squarespace, this automatically adds <h1> and <h2> tags in your HTML meaning you don’t need to do that manually) which help with your SEO rankings.
8. Know Your Top Pages and Their Traffic Sources
It’s not enough to know which of your pages are the most popular. If you stop there, you could be misinformed on what type of content is actually the most popular with your users. All it takes is one referral from a high-traffic website to make a blog post that your audience wasn’t naturally drawn to seem popular. The same goes for Pinterest traffic. Pinterest is a search engine and older pins often gain traction because they have been saved and shared many times over. That doesn’t mean the bulk of your current audience is interested in that content, so you may not want to replicate it. When a piece of content is popular on multiple channels, that’s how you know you have a winner.
9. Analyze Your Site Speed
Is there anything more frustrating than waiting for a slow website to load? Not really, which is why most people don’t wait. A slow loading time is the fastest way to lose your visitors. 40% of people abandon a website if it takes more than 30 seconds to load and a one-second delay in page response has been found to result in a 7% reduction in conversions. This means you should be keeping an eye on how quickly your site is loading so you can take action if you need to.
9. Who are Your New and Returning Users?
Did you know that you can see how many of your site visitors are consistently coming back to your website? That’s important to know, because as great as new visitors are, returning ones are a lot less work to earn. You need to use your analytics to learn how to retain these existing users so they keep coming back to your website on their own.
How to Improve Your Site Based Off Your Analytics
Boost Your Top Pages
Now that you know which of the pages on your site are getting the most traffic, it’s time to give them a little boost. Take advantage of their popularity and make sure they are SEO optimized, have CTA’s to sign up for your email list, or feature affiliate links. Whatever your goals for your business are, try to capitalize on the strength of these pages to make them happen.
Capitalize on Your Cyclical Trends
Remember that monthly marketing report? Now is the time to use it. If you don’t have one in place, you can look at your analytics directly for now. Either way, look back at the analytics from this time last year. What were your most popular pages? What types of products or blog posts were people interested in? Do some research into industry trends and see what you can capitalize on. In the summertime, fashion content may be less popular, but you can plan to take advantage of how in-demand it is in fall. Fitness services may get ignored during the hectic holiday months, but you can plan to hit the ground running in January when the topic is top of mind for many consumers.
Focus on Your Best Traffic Channels
As mentioned earlier, you need to know which channels are providing you with the best traffic. Now is the time to focus on building those channels. While it can be tempting to build the channels you have the least amount of traffic from, it is important you focus on what’s working for you. In an ideal world, you would be able to focus on each channel equally, but that’s just not realistic. Prioritize the channels that are working for you until you have the resources to expand your marketing efforts.
Don’t forget to use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL18” for 10% off your first Squarespace purchase!
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.