This article is a continuation from a previous article. Get caught up by reading it here.
Step #1: Summarize the Facts
Step 1 was digging in and getting some of the facts on how our website was working for our business. This can be the toughest step. Business owners sometimes see this as a “mountain” to climb. We can get deterred from this sort of analysis by the technical terms or the ever-changing landscape of tools and diagnostic reports. Sometimes its just because we fear what we’ll find. Some business owners respond by ignoring their website, hoping the issues will go away. By the time they come to us for help, we often see websites with the following issues:
- The information is inaccurate
- The display is broken in many browsers
- They look horrible on tablets and smartphones
- They don’t rank well for relevant keywords
- and they drive potential business away rather than attracting it.
In my previous post I promoted Google Analytics as a free and invaluable tool for accomplishing step 1. I didn’t go into much detail about how you can use it though.
So, if you are a beginner read this article. It does a great job of simplifying what are the most important things to measure when you are just getting started.
Step #2: Develop a Plan
Step 2 is taking this data and developing a plan to move forward. Your plan in its most basic form should deal with the following questions:
- Can people find your website?
- If they can find it, can they navigate it and use it to get the information they want?
- If they can navigate it, does it come across as trustworthy and authoritative on your area of business?
- If so, is the information it contains benefiting your business (either with an immediate sale or by establishing a long-term relationship or both)?
OmniOnline Case Study (Continued)
So lets apply the simple questions above to our previous website.
1. Can People Find Your Website
As I mentioned before we had a fairly well-designed website. One of our staff had written some funny, sarcastic content (we thought that was fine as it matched many of the personalities here at the office) and we were getting some traffic. I ran a filter for the period of July, 1, 2013 to October 31, 2013 in Google Analytics, which is about a month after we launched the site, to mitigate the spike in traffic from the initial launch.
For the rest of this article, I’ll be using statistical data from that range. Here is a screen-capture of some of the Google Analytics data that I refer to throughout this article.
During that time we had 1,063 unique pageviews. That’s different people viewing the website and does not count users who viewed the site more than once. That’s an average of about 9 people per day. I removed the stats related to one specific page (a questionnaire we asked clients to fill out that was taking them about 8 minutes to complete) and the result was that the average user stayed on our website for a little over 1 minute.
We were getting almost 70% of our traffic from referral pages (most likely our parent company’s landing page). About 10% of traffic was direct (meaning the user already knew our url/domain name and had typed it in directly). Only 4% of traffic was coming from organic searches and less than 1% was coming from Social Media. The remaining 18% or so were unclear.
The best way to judge whether people could find our website was that organic search number. 4% of all website traffic coming from this source is a pretty clear answer to our question. That answer was no. People who searched Google for keywords that we felt were related to our business – were not finding our website.
2. Can People Navigate Your Website
There are many ways to measure this. We chose three pretty basic metrics and I’ll explain them here. The first was bounce rate.
Bounce rate tells you how many people came to your website and then left without navigating anywhere else. It’s not perfect since blog sites often have complete articles on just one page and a user might be engaged and looking at exactly what they wanted for several minutes, before leaving your site. However in general its a good indicator of the quality of your website content (we will talk about that more in the next point) and the ease of navigation. Our bounce rate was 47.68% average. But when we looked at specific pages, there were 4 pages that brought in the bulk of our traffic and the average bounce rate on those top four pages was closer to 70%. So the data was telling us that somewhere just over 70% of our visitors were leaving our site after viewing just one page. Since none of our blog articles were in those top 4 getting most of the traffic, it was more realistic to assume people just weren’t finding what they wanted.
The second metric we looked at was Behavior Flow. This is a very clear indicator of what people did when they got to our site and as a result is a great indicator of how easy our site was to navigate.
Here’s what we found:
- Including all the pages on our entire website, 50% of visitors left after viewing just one page.
- Of those who navigated to a second page, almost 50% of those left after that.
- Of the remaining visitors who navigated to a third page, almost 35% of those left after the third page.
So, to simplify that, for every 10 visitors to our site, less than 1 of them navigated to atleast 4 different pages. Considering the average stay was only 1 minute, we took this to mean people were leaving our site very quickly and not finding it very easy to navigate.
3. Is Your Website Content Trustworthy and Authoritative
One of the best indicators of this is a metric called Engagement. It measures how users engaged or interacted with your site in terms of the length of their visit. Again, its not perfect – since they may have simply found what they needed quickly and then left. However, when you look at the full picture of engagement over time, the patterns it paints are quite useful to answer this question.
Here’s what we found:
- 58% of users spent less than 10 seconds on our site.
- 73% spent less than a minute
- 86% of all our website traffic spent less than 3 minutes engaging with our content.
When you see 73% of your audience (over a 4 month period) spending less than a minute interacting with your content, its reasonable to conclude that you are not providing content that stimulates or educates your audience. The answer to this question for us was again a no. Our website was not presenting our business as a trustworthy, authoritative voice in the web design and web development business arenas.
4. Is Your Website (and its content) Benefiting Your Business
This is the hardest to answer of the 4 questions. It relies partially on your experiences, not just some metrics. There are metrics that you can setup that give you a much clearer picture here – like how many visitors actually buy your product online or call you etc. We didn’t have any of those goals setup though, so we weren’t able to utilize them.
We assumed that having our information out there was a benefit. There are intrinsic values like brand awareness that play into things. We used our website with clients in our office, to show our portfolio to them and many of them said they liked the design and wanted something similar for their site. So those are indicators of value that cannot be measured by the stats. Our overall conclusion however was that while it was providing some benefit to our business, it certainly was missing out on many opportunities.
We were not seeing the traffic patterns we expected. We were not getting business directly from our website (atleast that we were able to measure) and we were not easy to find in organic searches of keywords that related to our services. It was clearly time for some change!
If you are new to Google Analytics, that is a lot for you to digest. I would encourage you to sign up for Google Analytics, get it installed on your website. If your a client of ours, you may already have it, just give us a call and we’ll let you know. If not, call us anyways and we can help you with that. The key is to start tracking some of these measurements now.
Perhaps you even want to run through some questions like we did and start asking yourself and your coworkers how they would answer these questions and why? Let some time go by to start capturing the statistics on your website. You’ll then have a benchmark of data that should provide you with answers to some of these important business questions. This important information will be able to point you in the right direction regarding whether you need a new website or maybe just need to tweak your content.
Because of the length of this article, I’m going to split it into three parts instead of two. I’ll save both the summary of what we did to address these questions as well as the statistical evidence to show what the data is telling us about the changes we made for part three. So stay tuned!
Part 3 is now live – read it here!