Whats working on my website – getting useful info from Google Analytics

If you have had a site for a while you probably have google analytics tracking code on it. You may get a monthly report emailed to you with a summary of whats happened on your site. The interface is a bit complex though and if its not what you do all day its a bit of a chore. You can get a lot of useful information out though, to use when judging what you are doing right and wrong with your site. Its also a good factor to use when thinking about future plans.

Analytics executive summaries

I’ve been playing with their api and generating some custom reports for a client so he doesn’t have to bother with the means, he just gets the facts he wants in a executive summary.

  • The pages where most people enter your site?
  • Are they the same as the pages that are most popular?
  • Which pages do people leave your site on?
  • Which pages do people spend the most time reading?
  • What are the referrers who refer you the most sticky viewers.

The answers to those questions can be pretty valuable you could write more about that popular subject, provide links across to similar content from the post that people spend all that time on, or talk to your seo company on why people keep finding you under ‘monkey wrangler’, weird. Those successful pages could point you at where your site could be improved.

Failing page designs

Also the info has design implications are some pages or sections of your site failing to engage readers? or are lots of people entering your site on some obscure post that’s the equivalent of a back door and then leaving again because they can’t figure out whats going on here. Perhaps a custom report could help you identify that.

How to think about SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is not a big mystery. People/Salesman make it out to be some clever technical thing or magic. They say they can get you to the top of Google if you give them enough of your hard earned cash. Even worse than that is where you end up in a position where you pay some agency hundreds of pounds a month and then are afraid to stop paying them. Just in case whatever voodoo they were doing, was actually effective.

What a search engine wants

Think about what your favourite search engine wants to deliver for its users. They want people searching to be returning relevant results that are interesting relevant and authoritative on the subject searched. They want to bring their users great information and absorbing sites.

What you want

You want to deliver a great experience for your visitors, you want people to stay on your site find out about your ‘widgets’ or services. Order your widgets or deliver the information that the person using the search engine wanted to find out. If your delivering that then search engines will find you site it’s gold for them.

People who tell you they know how Google works

Only Google knows how Google works precisely, everyone else is looking on from the outside. Sure outsiders can draw conclusions but you have to be wary of someone who tells you they know everything, they don’t. There aren’t single factors, search engines would be stupid if they just used one signal. Beware of “If you do X” you will get to be “top of Y” engine. Search engine companies have clever people working for them, they aren’t going to overly swayed by just one factor. Even if they were at one point, that will change in the future and if it did you would suddenly drop in position.

Questions to ask SEO people

There are good SEO people but you need to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here are some questions to ask them.

  • Ask them for sites that they have worked on.
  • What difference their work made.
  • How long that took
  • What they did to make that happen.
  • They should be able to provide you with statistics

If you don’t understand what they say or they blather be wary, and avoid people like the man who just rang me and managed to run google into his companies name like he was part of it. Like if he said it fast enough it would subliminally sink in.
In general think as you make the change will this make my site better for humans?.

If your site is better for humans its better for Search engines.