My company redesigned their website, and now I want to track how much Web traffic we are receiving to our website, blog, etc., as well as where that traffic is coming from. Someone told me to look into Web analytics to track this information, but I am not familiar with Web analytics and the different tools. Can you please help?
Dear Seeking Analysis,
Here are six ProfNet experts who can provide you with information about Web analytics:
What is Web Analytics?
Samson Adepoju, communications and PR manager of DG MediaMind, explains that “the work done in PR/marketing can often be of a qualitative nature. Senior management can’t draw a direct line between PR efforts and sales or revenue.”
Adepoju provides some examples of when you may run into this dilemma: How much was that story we were quoted in worth? What did that byline article we wrote do? What are we achieving through our social media efforts? In these cases, Web analytics can help. “It can be used to discover how much traffic is coming to your site from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.,” he explains. “Analytics will show you how well-read your blog is and where they (the readers) are coming from on the Web.”
Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technology at SHIFT Communications, reiterates the importance of Web analytics for the PR professional. “With it,” he says, “we can measure the true impact of our PR efforts.”
Penn believes that if PR does its job right, they will see an improvement in the SEO and search traffic for a brand; measurable increases in direct Web traffic and in click-through rates on paid ads as people recognize the brand and trust its name more; and improved conversions.
Jose Vera, leading marketing strategist of Optimum7, adds: “What makes Web analytics tools different is that they can provide real-time data. They are not based on studies and speculation alone. It makes marketing strategies dynamic in every way, because you can now shift the course of your boat at any given moment and have data to base that change on.”
How to Make Web Analytics Work
Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency, says that sustaining overall traffic growth to corporate blogs requires organic search and SEO optimization.
“Most PR professionals understand that incoming (third-party) links are the key to strong SEO for a given digital property,” he says.
To boost SEO, remember what Google and other search engines are striving to do, he says. “Their (search engines’) version of utopia is to understand the desired content of each search and then be able to go out to the vast universe we call the Internet and bring back the perfect content (as perceived by the person conducting the search),” explains Hoffman. “So this means the foundation of any effective SEO effort revolves around understanding how relevant audiences will search for content, and writing compelling content that incorporates those search terms.”
Lynore Abbott, founder of Logical Marketing, also stresses the importance of Web design, and warns against creating Web traffic on a website that is poorly designed, because it will only result in unhappy potential customers. She provides an example of a situation where she doubled website traffic -- which would lead one to think that it also doubled online sales. “But sales only increased 10 percent. Possibly we increased brand recognition, but we certainly didn’t double sales, which was the original ‘hope.’”
The issue, explains Abbott, was that they had a hard-to-navigate website for the newbie user. They learned this information from Web analytics tools, which showed them what people were doing or not doing on their website. “Determine the problem, then determine the measuring system,” she says.
Helpful Web Analytics Tools
Stephanie Beadell, PR and SEO associate of SEER Interactive, recommends these analytics tools:
- Google Analytics, which is free.
- Conductor Searchlight has great dashboards that make visualizing keywords and traffic very easy.
- Ahrefs helps you monitor the people who are linking to your site.
- Google Trends lets you to look at keyword use over time.
- Google Keyword Tool allows you to compare how one search term compares to another.
- Uber Suggest helps to get ideas for new keywords or new content.
Hoffman recommends Open Site Explorer, and notes that it has decent functionality in the free version.
“The tool allows you to plug in the URLs to see the analytics behind your link-building effort,” he explains.
Do’s and Don’ts
Vera offers these do’s and don’ts for using Web analytics:
- Study any Web analytics tool you choose to use and learn its benefits and limitations.
- Make sure every page you’re tracking has the proper analytics code installed for your tools.
- Set up your conversion funnels properly.
- Integrate all tools with main analytics software.
- Use alerts and customize them for specific campaigns and projects.
- Check your analytics every single day.
- Base decisions solely on the data provided by a single Web analytics tool.
- Leave tools on default settings.
- Install a tool and forget about it.
- Forget to segment campaigns.
- For an e-commerce store, don’t forget to set up e-commerce dollars so you can track which sources are generating what amount.
Penn adds another essential “do,” which is to “set measurable, bottom-line related goals in your Web analytics software that are mathematically sound so that everything else you do can be quantified against these goals.”
He explains that “all of the other metrics are diagnostic in nature, telling you what's happening. The bottom-line goals tell you whether you will be able to pay the bills or not.”
Penn biggest “don’t” is to assume there's a best anything. “There's “no best metric, no best time for doing something, no best day or best method or any of that silliness,” he says. Look for clusters of related information and what it means for your business, what ties to the bottom line, and test constantly.
I hope you can put these different Web analytics tools into action, and that they bring you successful results. Good luck!
- The Q&A Team
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