In today’s world of online marketing, Google has provided us with more numbers and data than we could ever know what to do with. Some of this online data is translated into useful information, while some of it is a little more difficult to translate. Google has made viewing web traffic data easier through Google Analytics. However, the data provided must have proper context, or else you may be making incorrect assumptions about your site. Let’s explore this idea of collection and context from a high-level perspective.
Data collected by Google Analytics, your Content Management System, or website plugins that provide data can be very helpful in diagnosing problem and success areas for your website. However, data is only as good as the collection method that is used. If using Google Analytics, you should implement GA (Google Analytics) tracking code on your website. This code guides Google Analytics to track everything from web traffic, page statistics, and events that occur during a user’s visit. Google Analytics can also give valuable user data: country, browser, device type, language, and interests. So now that you have gathered your data, how can you use it?
Once you start collecting data about your site, interpreting this data correctly is vital to the success of your analysis. Common website statistics, such as bounce rate and page visits, are often seen in only one light. Misconceptions are often made about these numbers, and context can help focus your efforts. For example, bounce rate is often considered to be better if lower. If you are running an ecommerce site, having a high bounce rate is a bad sign, since your goal is transactions. If a user leaves before exploring any of your products, they certainly won’t be buying anything. This ties into having high page views per session which, on an ecommerce site, is more views on more items that could be purchased.
On the other hand, if your site is an information/content site, a high bounce rate might not be a problem. If your site gives the readers the information they were looking for on the first page they visited, it saves their time and might even improve their satisfaction. They might end up “bouncing” after one pageview, but their perception of the site is positive. Having information that answers their questions improves your site’s credibility in the users’ minds. Similarly, higher page views per session might indicate that users enjoy your site and are looking around for more content. However, if users arrive at your site through an ad or organic search result for specific content, they will expect the first page they view to deliver this specific information. If your landing page fails to live up to their expectations, they will end up clicking around your site, attempting to find the content they expected. This can lead to frustration as they might feel they were misled and it took more clicks and time to get to the information needed.
Data is everywhere. Using it to your advantage is vital in today’s online marketing. Looking at the numbers is important, but understanding the actions of your users will help give these numbers meaning. Proper interpretation and context can lead to insight into what your users are finding or not finding on your site. Is your information on the right page? Is the website navigable? Is the site’s content easily found? These questions will help guide your analytics and will provide more insight through the seemingly endless streams of data.