As long as there have been websites on the internet, there have been people surprised that they can't just put up a website and immediately have visitors flock to their URL.
Building a website is just a first step. Now, you must appease the search engine gods so that your super awesome site can be on page one of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) when users are looking for your product or service.
So how does one go about getting such data?
Google Analytics, of course.
Google Analytics (GA) has been a tool I have used for about a decade now. It's a great tool for statistics, trends, demographics, and so much more. Best of all, it's a FREE tool. Who better to tell you how people are finding your site and what they are doing on your site than the search engine most people use. (It's true, you can Google it).
THE GOOGLE ANALYTICS AWESOMENESS:
Let's go through some of my favorite features of GA what makes them so useful.
- Visit Stats and Trends: By default, Google will display users, sessions, bounce rate and session duration for the past seven days. You can change the date settings to display any timeline you like. Under each statistic will appear the trend (either up or down) as it compares to the previous period. This is valuable information to those who are managing online marketing campaigns to help increase traffic, bring in new and returning customers.
- Online Campaign Stats and Trends: Speaking of online campaigns, by default, Analytics provides organic and paid keyword statistics and trends to help identify what keywords are working for you, and what keywords you put a little bit more effort into.
- Demographics: Who is using your site is just as important as what they are doing on your site. Knowing if the majority of the users on your site are millennial men can be a powerful piece of information when thinking about what your next campaign will look like.
- Top Content: Are there a particular blog posts bringing in a significant amount of traffic compared to other posts? If so, think about creating a campaign around those subject matters, because it is what is resonating with your users and customers.
- Referral Traffic: Who is sending you the most traffic (besides search engines) to your website? Social media? Another site's blog? Local directories? An increase in referrals is a good indicator of link building.
- Device and Operating System Stats: Analytics track what devices your site is most seen from (desktop, tablet, or mobile) and what operating system they are on (iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, etc.) Use this information for testing to verify your website is optimized for common browsers and screen sizes.
Google provides a plethora of documentation on how to set up Google Analytics and what each of the menu items means. The dashboard is customizable, so you can see what is important to you right when you log in.
There are so many more features to Google Analytics, but the ones listed above are some of my favorites and are helpful in planning for blogs, campaigns, and improvement to your search engine optimization strategy.