Are you currently tracking the success of your website or blog? If not, you should be. Many go through the motions of designing and developing a new website and then launch it without having any concrete goals set for the site. Furthermore there is no process in place to track success. This is a very big missed opportunity. In this column, let’s examine the fundamental things you should be doing to set up and then track the success metrics of your site. Armed with these tips you will be able to track what’s working and what isn’t. Then make the necessary course corrections to improve your site for better performance.
Set Success Metric Targets
The first place to start is to define goals and targets. So many people develop their site without any goals in mind. Without a goal you have no way of knowing if you are meeting expectations or not. You should have these defined at the start, preferably before you build or redesign your site. Here are some examples of success metrics:
- Your average weekly visits
- Your average page views
- Number of products sold per week/month
- Number of new RSS feed subscribers per week
- Number of new newsletter/blog subscribers per week
- Social media metrics, (i.e., number of new followers per month)
- Number of average comments generated by blog posts or other site content
These are just to get you started. You will easily think of more as they apply to you and your organization. Once you set these up, you should standardize on a way to track and keep up with them on a weekly, quarterly, and annual basis. Set up a simple dashboard in a spreadsheet and make sure you log your results each week so you can track your progress. Every so often you should re-evaluate these metrics and modify some of them and maybe add some more.
One of the tools to help you gather your success metrics will be an analytics tool. You will want to set up a tool quickly so you can start measuring performance. For most people the basic stats, below, are enough. But most analytics tools will give you much more important metrics if you take the time to set them up properly. It is important to set these tools up as soon as possible. Because they are tag based, they will only start showing results when the tags have been set up correctly on every page of your site and then verified.
Google Analytics, Visitor Trends
Google Analytics, Additional Visitor Trends
Google Analytics Visitors
Google Analytics is a good choice, especially because it’s free. There are other alternatives like Charbeat, Reinvigorate, Mint, and Clicky. Many of these perform analytics in real time. Pick one that you like and get it set up before you do anything else.
Visitor Metrics and Tagging
After you have an analytics tool set up you will want to first identify what you want your visitors to do on your site. You might call this a goal or conversion. Things like buying a product, downloading a white paper, subscribing to an e-mail list, or filling out a contact form can all be goals you might have for your site. Whichever goals you come up with, be sure to tag them with your analytics tool so they can be tracked and measured.
Now that your tracking is in place, you should start analyzing different traffic sources and the behavioral paths visitors take to get to a conversion. This will allow you to see which segments are driving traffic to your site and of those, which are also converting. Armed with this information you can start focusing on those channels that are performing the best.
Set Up RSS Feed Analytics
Having someone subscribe to your RSS feed is the highest form of a conversion. They have essentially opted in to everything you have to say now and in the future. So why not track this as well? The place to start here is with Feedburner, which is the tool of choice, and works very well. The process to set this up is very straightforward since there is nothing to verify.
In addition to analytics tools you should take a look at Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Not only can these tools give you insight into how many people found your site and who is linking to you but they also let you know how each search engine (Google and Bing) see your site. This of course is good information to know about.
The wonderful thing about a website or blog is that it is every growing and evolving. You can positively influence that growth if you have solid success metrics in place and a tracking system to measure performance. So make sure you are taking advantage of these great tools to see what is going on with your website and learn what you need to do to make it better.
There is of course a lot of discussion about content and what does and doesn't work online. Is long-form the key? Does short-form content have a role to play? Are there other factors at play?
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