By Bob West
A client recently contacted us for help understanding the activity on their website. They admitted never looking at the Google Analytics (GA) numbers due to a lack of time, so they gave us access to their GA account and we dove in for them.
The good news is that this client already had GA active on its website and decided to get serious about understanding what is happening there.
The bad news is that they learned a lot of things they didn’t want to learn.
In this post, I’m going to generalize their learnings to “protect the innocent,” but I want to share these points in hope that doing so motivates more of you to explore your website analytics more thoroughly.
Learning #1: Google Analytics wasn’t working!
For starters, if you don’t monitor your GA regularly, has it ever occurred to you that someone may have turned off the tracking program on your site? That never occurred to this client, either, but that was the case. An eight-month-long window of no metrics was exposed, much to his chagrin.
Learning #2: Mobile traffic is falling
This company realized the significance of Google’s search algorithm changes from April. Remember the stories about ‘Mobile-gedon’ and how these changes would cost non-mobile-friendly websites significant search traffic? (We shared our thoughts on the topic, too.) Well, this company has learned that these weren’t just ‘sky is falling’ alarmists. While the total amount of traffic lost hasn’t been too dramatic thus far, four consecutive months of declining traffic from Google tells a powerful story. (If you’re looking for silver linings, these metrics give this marketer hard data to use when arguing internally for investing in an updated website.)
Learning #3: Social media is not delivering
Third, this client recently boosted its social media activity to drive more traffic to its website, but to very little benefit thus far – less than 1% of the 2015 sessions came from social media. Achieving significant results via social can take awhile as companies work to grow their audiences and fine tune their social content. This company had no idea how little benefit it was deriving from its efforts, however.
Learning #4: Top content pages surprise
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the GA numbers identified the most popular content on the company’s website, which were not necessarily the pages the company expected. The product catalog portion of the website pulls considerable traffic, as expected. But the company was surprised to see how frequently visitors hit the ‘Find Your Sales Rep’ portion of the website. Who are these visitors and why don’t they know who their sales rep is? Are they new prospects?
Also, the company’s website offers a wealth of educational content, but those pages produce surprisingly small traffic. Is this because the content is generally posted in PDF format, which limits its search value dramatically? Or do the company’s customers really just want product information from them?
Google Analytics can’t answer every question for you. In fact, reviewing the numbers will often leave you with more questions you need to ask yourself. But the information is invaluable for those companies looking to get the most value out of their website.
Bob West is Meister Media’s director of interactive sales. Contact him at 440/602-9129 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about Google Analytics or would like our input on your website traffic.