Analytics tell a story: understanding basic data

Guest Author, George Passwater

Previously, I wrote a post here, on the SEO copywriting blog on 5 Ways to Use Analytics to  Find Content Marketing Opportunities. Through that post, I gave a two-part series of presentations on analytics and how it helps us analyze our own sites and how to make them better.

For today’s post, I would like to talk to you briefly on some of the points I went over in my first presentation on the SEO copywriting certificate training call. For those involved in producing quality content, it’s important to consult your analytics on a weekly basis…at a minimum.

If you’re looking for the presentation, you can find it here on Slideshare.

Let’s look at some analytics basics and how looking beyond basic data can help you find more opportunities for your own content marketing activities.

Analytics? What’s that?

Analytics are numbers.

These numbers tell us a story. They tell us how many people visit our website and if people like what we write on our blogs. They tell us when people buy our products and when people talk about us.

Yes, analytics tell us a lot, but it isn’t in storybook format – it’s numbers and graphs. To hear the story, you need to understand how to read the data.

Basic Analytics

Basic analytics tell us a bit about who visit our sites and how they interact with our content. Although they tell us some good information, it’s not always thorough enough.

It’s important for many to understand that a hit isn’t one person hitting one page – it’s one page element. For instance, a graphic on a page is a hit.

Another thing basic analytics may make you think is you’re more popular than you really are. Most basic packages, such as default web hosting setups, don’t separate the human traffic from the robot traffic. So, when you see your traffic, it may include more bots indexing your site than actual human beings.

Beyond Basics With Google Analytics

For those of us that require more in-depth analysis of our web traffic and how it impacts our businesses, there are a variety of packages to choose from. Depending on the feature set, you can spend thousands of dollars on software that covers everything under the sun.

In my experience, if you need a feature rich analytics package, but without the cost, Google Analytics is the package for you. With its abilities for advanced segments and custom reporting, it’s hard to beat for the cost of a Google account.

For instance, tracking your conversion rate for say, your opt-in form to your mailing list would be a simple process. By creating a goal in Google Analytics, with a URL based outcome, you can find out if your opt-in form is really converting or if you need to tweak page element such as your copy.

Bounce Rates

One of the things you will find that tells you more about your site is your bounce rate. First off, let me give you the official definition of bounce rate:  The percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).

Many look at why they may have a high bounce rate on their pages. I say, don’t just focus on the bounce rate, but look at the information and what type of page it is.

If it’s a blog post with specific how-to information, someone may want to find out how to do something and be on their way. Others may just have small attention span (it is the web after all) and keep the information in a reference file for later review.

Now, if it’s a homepage or squeeze page, you might want to look at your page elements and see if there’s something you can tweak to bring down your bounce rate.

Speaking of bounce rates on squeeze pages, if you have a high bounce rate, with a high time on page, you may have a problem with your copy, closing the deal. Try to beef up your call-to-action to bump up that conversion rate.

Take Time to Read

No matter how you slice it, knowing how to read the story your web analytics tell you is too important to take for granted. So, take a minimum of 30 minutes a week to just go over your analytics and see what stories you find; they’re just waiting for you to read them.