The turn of the calendar is a great reminder to review your website analytics for the previous year, and to establish some baseline measurements for the new year.
Now that 2015 is here, use these 4 sets of basic analytics to establish your baseline and to measure against in the new year.
These analytics measurements provide high-level view of your website, and will help you understand how your site is performing when reviewed on a week-to-week or monthly basis. We’ve even provided a handy worksheet to help you track your analytics in the new year.
To review your analytics for the past year, be sure to login to your analytics and change the date range to 1/1/2014 – 12/31/2014 to get an accurate picture of the past year.
Understand Your Site Traffic Pattern
Having an understanding of the typical traffic your site receives helps you understand what to expect when examining your traffic in 2015. In Google Analytics, you can see your traffic pattern by viewing the Audience > Overview report.
Common web traffic patterns include:
A steady pattern of traffic with a hilly pattern illustrates weekend dips in visitors.
Spikes in traffic can indicate a successful email campaign, press coverage, popular blog posting, or a combination of these things.
A steady traffic pattern indicates mostly the same amount of traffic from day to day.
As with spikes in traffic, plateaus may indicate a successful email campaign, press coverage, or an extended event, such as a tradeshow or product/service launch.
Drops in Traffic
A drop off in traffic, as shown in this example, might indicate an issue with your website and should raise flags to a potential issue with the site.
Do Traffic Patterns Match Expectations?
Look at your site traffic pattern over the past year and ask yourself:
- Do you notice a trend in traffic (up, down, or flat)? What do you attribute the trend to?
- Are there any spikes or plateaus in traffic? What may have caused those?
- Are there any drop offs in traffic? Were you aware of those drop offs? What caused those drop offs?
At BizStream, we're often asked, what are good numbers for my website? How many pageviews and visitors should I have?
There isn't a perfect answer for every site — it depends on your industry and type of site you have. In a year, a major brand may see well over 2 million page views with a bounce rate of 35% and an average session duration of 4 minutes.
In comparison, a small manufacturer may only have 25,000 pageviews with a bounce rate of 50% and an average session duration of 2 and a half minutes.
Which one is better? It depends on the site’s audience and content within the site. Your site analytics will tell the story of your website and provide a guide for you to measure against in the coming months.
Quantity of Visitors
Google Analytics breaks down the number of visitors to your site into 2 different categories: sessions and users.
Users are individuals who have visited your site, while sessions are the number of visits to the site the users have had. A higher number of sessions indicates that some users of your website has visited more than once. Pageviews indicate the total number of pages have been viewed in all sessions.
To establish your baseline for the new year using Google Analytics, use the Audience > Overview report. Take your total number of Sessions, Users, and Pageviews and divide them each by 52 (weeks in a year) to get your average for each measurement. You can record your baseline measurements in our provided worksheet.
Quality of Visitors
Quantity is great, but you also need to understand the quality of those visitors. There are 3 measurements that illustrate the quality of the visitors to your site.
Using Google Analytics, you can find the quality of visitors data under the Audience > Overview report.
Pages per Session provides a measurement of how your visitors are using your site. It’s easy to think that higher pages per session may indicate the site is performing better. However, a low pages per session may indicate that the users of the site are quickly finding the information they're looking for.
Remember, your analytics will tell the story of your site. The good news with this measurement in Google Analytics, they calculate the average for you.
Average Session Duration
Session duration is affected by a number of things including, but not exclusive to, the quantity of content on the site pages and type of content on a site.
For example a news site with long articles or videos may have a longer session duration than a basic site with general information about a company or organization.
Get to know your Average Session Duration. Think about why your average session duration is what it is, and how content changes may affect the session length per user.
It's common to hear that a lower bounce rate is better, and that an average bounce rate should be around 50%. Again, analytics will tell your site’s story.
If a user is searching for information on Google and comes across your site or a page within your site, finds the information he or she is looking for, and leaves with only looking at 1 page, Google considers this a bounce. Is that necessarily a bad thing when a user immediately finds the information she was looking for? It could be a signal of great user experience, but a high bounce rate.
Consider a restaurant’s website that has its hours and contact information on the home page. Many visitors may only need to know the location of the restaurant and if its open. The restaurant’s website will have a high bounce rate, but it’s not a bad thing.
Where Are Your Visitors Coming From?
If you're spending your resources on social media, paid search, SEO, or email marketing in the new year, you need to have a baseline on where your visitors are coming from.
Using Google Analytics, you can find an overview of session acquisitions in the Acquisition > Overview report. Google provides 8 default channels. These include Direct, Organic Search, Referral, Email, Paid Search, Other Advertising, Social, and Display. Your analytics account may not include all of these options when you review the report – your site might not have some of these channels coming in yet.
Google provides the Channel Acquisition metrics in both sessions and percentage. Using the percentage will help to normalize the data of a year’s average to weekly or monthly.
A change in your Acquisition percentage will identify what channels are effective in the new year. Review your metrics for last year and continue to record your results as the year progresses in our handy worksheet.
Set a reminder once a week to look at your analytics. Gathering the data takes less than 5 minutes and can provide interesting insight to your site and marketing performance on a weekly basis.
We’ve provided the tool to help compare weekly. If you're noticing anomalies like spikes in traffic or other changes in your metrics, make a note of it and research why — you might be surprised in what changes your statistics (for better or worse).
Reviewing your analytics on a weekly basis will keep you prepared to react to those changes and to become a more effective online marketer!
Don't forget to download the weekly tracking form! >