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Getting converting traffic to your website is hard work, but once it gets onto your website do you really know what it's doing or how well it's converting?

A big part of any internet marketer's job should be reviewing a website's analytics to find those problem areas or those potential wins and then capitalising on them.

With the recent changes to Google and the fragile economy, now is a better time than ever to start making your current traffic work harder. So grab yourself a coffee and let's get started - this is going to be a long one!

Track everything that is important

Without solid data you can't make informed decisions so it's very important that your Analytics is set up properly. Some of the common mistakes we see are:

Corrupting your own data

This was covered in my previous article so I won't spend too much time on this point; In short, you can slowly corrupt your data over time should you or your developers use your own site. If you are a larger organisation who employs many people then this can skew your data significantly.

Luckily there are several solutions to block yourself from Analytics.

Set up clear goals

Your website will no doubt have a multitude of forms - common ones being contact forms, account sign up forms, lead generation and so on. Each one of these is worthwhile and can be used to measure the success of the site. If you aren't tracking these then you have a problem!

Video Play Button With Event Tracking

You can also measure other things on your website as goals. On our website, we use events to track when videos have been played.

If you're an e-commerce website then you must use e-commerce tracking!

One level up from Goals is e-commerce tracking. If you're selling online then you must use e-commerce tracking. It provides a wealth of information and allows you to assign real world values to keyword data, it allows you to see which landing pages are converting into sales and it integrates with almost every screen in Analytics.

Without this data, you're left just guessing at what is actually working for you!

E-commerce tracking in Analytics

Most ecommerce packages come with ecommerce tracking built in (Magento being a good example) but if you're running a custom built system then you'll need to add some additional code.

Link your AdWords and Analytics

Just like e-commerce data, if you're running AdWords and don't have it linked to your profile then you're missing out on valuable data and the ability to view it all in one interface.

Google Adwords inside of Google Analytics

You can link the two accounts by following these steps.

Now, assuming your analytics is set up and collecting all those valuable pieces of information, we can start delving into the data...

Check browsers against conversions

Do you know how many of your users still browse the web on Internet Explorer or Safari? Quite often the browsers you don't use can be overlooked by yourself and your developer so it's quite common place for bugs and errors to creep in that nobody has noticed. These bugs may be in obscure places of your website but may have terrible consequences...

You may have a piece of Javascript that throws an error in IE7 which 40% of your visitors may still use or those who use Safari may be seeing a layout issue which obscures important buttons or columns.

Your Analytics should be able to give you a clear indication if a particular browser isn't converting at a similar level to the others.

Browser conversion rates

You can view your browser usage information by navigating to Audience -> Technology -> Browsers & OS. Click on the goal set or e-commerce links at the top to see how these browsers are performing.

How to view browser ecommerce stats in Google Analytics

This takes us nicely onto mobile traffic...

Also check mobile traffic

Just like our desktop browsers, we can also spot potential opportunities in our mobile traffic screen. If your site receives a decent amount of traffic from the iPad yet it has a very low conversion rate for example then we know there is something wrong that we have to correct.

With the rise of mobile it's unwise to ignore such a goldmine of potential by not tailoring our sites to our visitors; especially if competitors aren't making responsive or mobile versions of their website.

You can view your mobile usage information by navigating to Audience -> Mobile -> Devices. Be sure to click on the goal set or e-commerce links at the top to see how these devices are performing.

Analyse your landing pages & site content

Conversions from e-commerce or goals can tell you a lot about how well the site is performing at the very end of the scale, but what happens when you pull back to the beginning? Do you know how well each one of your pages is holding visitors or scaring them away? Have you just launched a new landing page but don't know if it has made any difference? This is where the entire site content section of Analytics comes into play.

You can view your site content information by navigating to Content -> Site Content.

A great place to start is to look at your landing pages. The initial step can be very important for your users and if you don't capture their interest immediately then you may well be throwing money down the drainpipe, so to speak.

Look at the pages your visitors are landing on and see how they progress from there. If your Pay Per Click landing page has a very high bounce rate compared to the rest of your website, but its goal is to inform users, then you have a problem.

As with the other screens, we can also see how these pages are converting and identify ones that could be improved or developed further. We can also learn lessons from pages that are performing very well and replicate their successes across the others.

It's worth noting that in some cases a high bounce rate may not be an issue depending on your goals, so please bear that in mind!

Slow websites hurt conversions

If your website is slow then you will likely see a hit on conversions. Google introduced a site speed tab as part of the new Analytics which works without any additional code.

You can view your website speed information by navigating to Content -> Site Speed.

As a rule of thumb, anything over two-three seconds needs to be looked at and improved. Big companies put a lot of effort into making their websites quick and for good reason. Every extra second can cost 7% in conversions.

There are many techniques you can use to improve your website speed. Several third party tools also offer a way to track your page loading speeds such as Pingdom.

Is your website easy to navigate?

Not everyone navigates like you and what you thought was a simple easy website to use may be far from the case. Google recently introduced a new section called Visitor Flow and it's definitely one of the coolest features in the new Analytics package.

It allows you to visually analyse how visitors are moving through your site and also allows you to highlight traffic through particular pages (read: paths to conversion) and segment the traffic by lots of different criteria.

Visitor Flow in Google Analytics

If you want to see how converting traffic navigates your site, simply change the segmentation dropdown to match what you need - Google has very kindly provided a useful set of pre-defined segments and you can also use your own advanced segments for more granular detail.

This gives yet another insight into how your traffic is behaving and how you can tailor your website to take advantage.

Rounding up

If you have your Analytics set up correctly then you can take full advantage of Analytics and very quickly just by browsing a few screens see where problem areas of your website are.

I can't stress how important it is to put time into looking at your website in detail. Most of us have preconceived ideas on how well our site is working, but it may shock you when you start investigating how it's really performing.

One final thing worth noting, especially for e-commerce websites, is that more often than not telephone conversions aren't recorded in Analytics. So while you may think a particular keyword isn't converting it could be that this data is simply hidden from you. There are many services out there that offer calling tracking that integrates with Analytics that you should check out.

I hope I've sufficiently stressed how important it is to have the right data and where to find some interesting insights. We've just scratched the surface when it comes to exploring your analytics so be sure to play around and see what you can find!

Ed Baxter

Published 10 July, 2012 by Ed Baxter

Ed Baxter is SEO Manager at Ignition Search and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

2 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Nick Stamoulis

I once had a client that finally got around to keeping analytics from tracking their own employees and their traffic took quite a hit. Everyone panicked until they realized just how many times a day their managers were looking for their site with what keyword in Google. It was completely shifting the results.

about 4 years ago

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Noel Moriarty

There are two things everyone I meet in networking sessions tells me about their website.... (1) We're always top of Google and (2) Yeah, we got Analytics enabled. There are very few who actually understand what to do with the data, and how to interpret these points, and others (like funnels and goals) Valuable post. Thanks

about 4 years ago

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