Stats. A word that a lot of people want to avoid. Some keep track of them each month in order to see how they've progressed. Some keep track of them as and when they remember, just out of curiosity. And some just don’t check them, each for their own reasons. I know people in each of these categories. But I also know a lot of people don’t like looking at their stats because they don’t understand them. Honestly? Sometimes I’d even prefer not to look at them.
But I've come to learn that your data is key when it comes to analysing your website's performance.
Every digital marketing agency is different. But there's something that the majority of them will have in common - they'll do reporting. They'll report on their clients' traffic, monthly and yearly. This gives them explanation and identifies what it is important to focus on in the next month. Reporting helps to see where you've been, where you are now and what to do to achieve more in the future. It might sound intense. But it's exactly the same as what we can do to analyse our site's performance. And the best bit? It'll take you an hour, tops.
There are many ways you can analyse the performance of your site. Whether this is through your traffic, Google Analytics, Bloglovin’stats, or your hosts’ own analytics system, such as WordPress analytics. But before we start, I’d just like to let you know that for some of these points, I’ll be using Google Analytics. If you don’t have this installed or haven’t really thought about it, I definitely recommend using it. Especially when it comes to analysing your site’s performance.
Look Your Traffic
It’s really important to see who is visiting your site and where they are coming from. By this, I mean your types of traffic. These include referral, social, direct and organic search. I’ll quickly run through what each of these mean:
• Referrals - This includes sites that directly link to your website. They refer traffic to you, hence the name. This is great for networking and SEO.
• Social - The number of click–throughs to your site from social media. So if you post a link to one of your blog posts on Twitter and someone clicks on it, that counts as social traffic. But this doesn’t include Instagram.
• Direct – This includes everyone who types your URL into their internet browser and visits your website directly.
• Organic Search – This is where SEO comes into play. Organic search shows you how people are finding your site through search engines. The data here shows you which keywords you should be using more of in order to increase this number.
Seeing where your traffic is coming from allows you to identify what is working for your site and what isn’t. For instance, at the moment, Organic Search is where I’m getting the least traffic from. This is because I’ve only just started implementing an SEO strategy; and because I need to change my platform from Blogger to Squarespace. I know that by focusing more on SEO, this section will improve over the next few months.
Referrals are my highest source of traffic, the most being from Bloglovin, which is natural. My social traffic is catching this up, due to my following growing and more users clicking through to my site.
What’s useful here is to think about where your audience is and how they will find your site. It’s also useful to think about what’s important to you. For example, if you want your site to be found more in search engines, yet you are getting little organic traffic, you know this is a performance area you need to work on.
How To Do It:
Go to your Google Analytics dashboard > Acquisition > Overview > All traffic > Channels.
Look at How Long People Are Staying on Your Site
On the main page of your Google analytics dashboard, you’ll see something called “Avg. Session Duration”. This tells you how long people are staying on your site. Now according to Buffer’s blog, the ideal length of a post is 7 minutes long. So if your average session duration isn't as long as you'd like it to be, you could try extending the length of some of your posts. For me, a redesign is on the cards and has been for some time. I know once this is done, this number will increase.
How To Do It:
Go to your Google Analytics dashboard > Acquisition > All traffic > Channels > Average Session Duration
Check Your Website’s Loading Time
A low amount of traffic could mean that your website isn't performing at the optimal speed. If someone is on your site and it doesn't load fast enough, they’ll be off it in a flash. Luckily for us, there are tools that can help us check our website speed.
How To Do It:
Simply put your website into the search bar and it will give you a grade out of 100 for how fast your website is.
Look At The Links Pointing To Your Site
Referrals are a great source of traffic. From social media and other bloggers linking to you, you can create a good portfolio of links pointing to your site. But it’s always good to analyse where these links are coming from.
I just want to mention something here that I’ll talk about more in a later post. Google is made up of around 200 algorithms that are all responsible for different things. These are updated between 500 and 600 times every year. Most of them they never mention. But some, they do. This is what happened with the Penguin update. It was put in place to prevent websites from carrying out “spammy” link building exercises. Many people tried to trick the system by gaining referrals, or backlinks, from spammy sources. Google saw this and wasn't happy. So this update was introduced. But it’s still important to keep track of your referrals and see where your biggest sources of referral traffic are coming from.
My highest referrer is Bloglovin’. This makes sense, as the majority of my audience reads my posts on this platform. My other forms of referral traffic are mostly based around social shares. This also makes sense as I promote a lot on social media; therefore generating social referrals.
Your referral traffic will probably be completely different. But the important thing is to know where it’s coming from.
How To Do It:
Go to your Google Analytics dashboard > Acquisition > All traffic > Referrals
Check Your Meta Descriptions
In the digital marketing world, meta data is quite old school. Back in the day, meta titles and descriptions where what search engines used to determine what your website was about. But that doesn't mean it’s not important. It’s still really important to implement these into your website. The easiest way to check your meta descriptions is to type the name of your blog into Google. Hopefully, you’ll see something like the image below.
The title tag is the clickable link that takes you through to the site on a search results page. The description tag is the black text underneath. When someone is finding an article to read on designing scarves, the meta description is what could make them decide to click or not click on your site. It is 150 characters of unique content that tells users what your page is about.
I've got a whole post on meta data coming up over the next few weeks. But for now, just double check that you've got them.
How To Do It:
Type your site into Google. Does it appear like the image below?
Are You Using the Right Keywords?
If you were reading a web page about music festivals, you would expect this keyword to appear a decent few times on that page. But it’s quite surprising how often this doesn't happen. Recently at work, one of my tasks was to go through all the pages of a website and make sure that the keywords for each page matched with the content. So if you’re writing a blog post about desk accessories, you’d want to make sure this phrase was included in your headline, one or two of your sub-headings and then scattered throughout your content. If they aren't present, which is what I found with this website, then the content needs editing.
Keywords are very important for a site’s performance. It’s how your site is found in search engines. If the pages on your website are aligned in this way, it’ll give an overall better performance.
How To Do It:
When you’re writing a blog post, try and write it with your chosen keyword or group of keywords in mind. This will allow you to filter these words into the content.
Look At Your Comments
The power of comments is underestimated. Comments I receive mean more to me than my follower count ever will. It’s sad now when you see comments that say, “Great post, here’s a link to my giveaway!” Why are you doing that? It shows two things:
• This person hasn't read the post
• Their biggest concern is promoting their giveaway. Why? Because it’ll get them more followers.
This might sound harsh, but unfortunately, it still happens a lot in the blogging world. Not only that, but it’s becoming more obvious. When someone leaves a detailed comment on your site, this goes to show they've not only read, but enjoyed your post. This is a huge boost for your site’s performance. You don’t need to note down how many you get or how often. But sparking up conversation like that with so many different people is a big skill to have.
How To Do It:
Go back through your five most recent posts and read your comments. Are they detailed? Do they ask questions? Try and think of something you can do in your next post to get more engagement. You might even be able to come up with a blog post idea, too.
Keep Track of Your Social Media Presence
Analysing your website's performance doesn't simply come down to looking at your pages and content. It also comes down to the brand extensions that are a part of your brand. One of these, I'm sure, is social media. Many of us self promote ourselves, our services and our content through these social platforms. So it's really important to keep track of how well this is working. There's no point in sharing all your great blog posts on social media and not evaluating which ones are getting the most clicks.
As much as you want to keep an eye on your site analytics, keeping tracking of your social analytics should be just as important. Checking which of your content promoted on Twitter has received the most feedback, how many followers or likes you've achieved over the past month. Taking a look at what's working and what isn't. I truly believing identifying those two things is a key to success.
How To Do It:
Sign up to Twitter analytics, check your Facebook and a Pinterest analytics, and any other platform that you use. Keep track of new features you try and analyse how they're working, and what you can do improve them.
While creating this post, I reached out on Twitter to ask some of you what's important to you when analysing your site's performance. Here's how you responded:
I'd love to know, how do you analyse your website's performance? Leave a comment below.
Wondering how to be found online?