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In our first episode of Hot Buzz we talked a little bit about measuring your web site. It was difficult to get a solid answer out do to the tremendous burning provided by Lethal Dose hot sauce.

If you own a business or are responsible for marketing at an organization it’s likely that you are incredibly busy. Especially as a business owner it’s hard to know what to measure, where to look at it, and which numbers are important and which aren’t. And you have very little time to figure it out.

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool, but it does give the average business owner a lot of information and very little help knowing how to parse it all and turn that into smart decisions.

I’ve put this together to help business owners monitor users behavior on their without spending a lot of time doing it.

It will also help you understand when you spot something good that you can take advantage of.

A few key metrics are the most important

You don’t need to keep an eye on everything, that’s the big secret. You need to know what’s working for you and what’s not but you don’t to understand or follow every piece of data.

Spotting it quickly and easily will help you save a lot of time. You only need to be able to deep dive when something goes right or wrong.

Large Changes, No Changes, Lots of Changes

When I sit down to review one of my client’s Google Analytics the first thing I do is take a quick scan. Generally, there are two things that immediately concern me and cause me to do an initial deep dive.

  1. Large changes
  2. No changes
  3. Large fluctuations

Large changes across a timeline of a report indicates either something really good has occurred, or something really bad.

No changes across a long period of time indicates stagnation which is not ideal for a company looking to grow.

Large fluctuations across a timeline of a report indicates an unpredictable state that is not consistent enough to be useful.

The Reports You Need to Watch

There are several key things you should be watching out for, as a priority.

  • Sessions by channel
  • Sessions by campaign
  • Organic
  • Goal completes
  • Goal conversion rates
  • Bounce Rate

Sessions by channel and sessions by campaign will indicate where traffic comes from at a high level. It’s important to monitor this because an extreme change indicate when we need to do a deep dive to understand what’s going on.

Organic traffic is important to monitor. How effective is the content you’re putting out to generate organic traffic?

Improvements indicate you’ve done something right. It’s time to understand what. Decreases indicate problems, such as google algorithm changes.

Goal completes, and conversion rates are an important metric to follow. Assuming you’ve set up goals correctly (most don’t) any radical shifts in trends are important to follow up on.

Goal conversion rates increasing or decreasing rapidly is an indication that something needs to be reviewed carefully.

Finally, bounce rates across all your campaigns are important to monitor. A high bounce rate indicates there is something seriously wrong with your marketing.

Something has changed, how do I figure out why?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why something has occurred, especially if you’ve not made any changes to anything. You’ve seen a consistent nosedive across many months from organic traffic…why!?

Without some context around what the metric is over what time period it’s difficult to give an explanation in this post, but the following are some tips to get you started.

  • Did you do anything different? Send out a particularly good newsletter?
  • Did google make an algorithm change?
  • Did your goal tracking break?
  • Did you get a large site referring traffic all of a sudden?
  • Have you changed your strategy – for example contracted an SEO firm who use content farms?
  • Did you have a particularly successful social post?
  • Have you made any changes to your web site? For example did you change your navigation, remove pages, or redesign pages?

A quick map for measuring your site

As a business owner using this map for measuring your site is a good start, but certainly isn’t the complete answer. It will help guide you on which metrics are important and how to judge if you need to look into things further.

I will provide a future post on how I perform a deep dive to understand what’s going on.

Are you tracking any web metrics at all for your business? Are there other metrics you track?



Craig Oliphant is a marketing expert with over a decade of experience in digital marketing. He has built online campaigns for multi-million dollar companies, and seen massive returns from very small investments. He has figured out ways to achieve repeatable results.