Google Analytics is a superb website statistics tool for measuring overall website performance, your electronic marketing campaign initiatives, and in some cases even your website’s ROI. If you’re in the transportation business, and are using Google Analytics on your website, there are several key metrics within the service that will allow you to measure and assess how your site is performing.
There are two ways which you can view Google Analytics data, through the browser and via pre-defined and scheduled e-mail reports. Although you can customize the type of reports you receive from Google Analytics, the most commonly received report is the default dashboard report which presents a good set of key website performance metrics. The dashboard report consists of several categories, which are defined by several key metrics.
We’ll take a look at each of these categories and metrics in detail, and I’ll show you how they should be interpreted within your transportation related site. Typically most dashboards reports cover the past month, so just keep that in mind if you’re viewing the PDF report.
Traffic Sources Overview – The Four Ways Visitors Get To Your Website
There are four key traffic sources for any website. Direct Traffic, Referring Sites, Search Engines and Other.
Direct Traffic refers to visitors who type in your website address directly into their browser. These visitors either have your site bookmarked, know your website address, or reference some promotional material where your website address is printed, such as an ad, a business card or some other advertising piece.
Traffic from Referring Sites is the amount of traffic you receive from other sites that carry a link to your company. It could be a transportation partner, an association that you’re a member of, or a general internet directory.
Other Traffic comes from custom defined sources. You can track your various marketing campaigns (e-mail newsletters, outlook signatures, etc) using Google Analytics, but that’s beyond the scope of this article, and we’ll take a look at that in another one.
The Top Traffic Sources subcategory shows the source of where your website traffic is coming from. Here you will see search engines like Google, or Yahoo, or a list of those Referring Sites that we’ve talked about.
The Keywords subcategory will show you the top 5 keywords or keyword phrases that are used to get to your website through a search engine. In most cases it will be your company name, as a good percentage of visitors will type in your company name into Google when looking for you. If your website is Search Engine Optimized (SEO), phrases related to your business will show up here. So for example, if your site is search engine optimized for “Canada LTL”, or “Toronto Montreal Truckload” these terms will show in this category. Keep in mind, that on the dashboard report you only see the top 5 keywords, and you will have to login into the Google Analytics service in order to view more.
Visitors Overview - What Kind Of Visitors, and How Are They Viewing Your Website
The visitors overview page, is the third page of your dashboard overview. The first metric that you will see is the Visits metric, which will tell you the amount of visits your website has received over a specified period. Any time someone visits your website, they are counted in this metric.
The Absolute Unique Visitor metric, is the amount of “unique” visitors your website has received. It is a bit more difficult to understand. A unique visitor is someone that is visiting your website for the very first time. If they have visited your website in the past within the specified time period, they are still only counted once. You can have multiple visits, from one absolute unique visitor. This metric is a true representation on the number of actual individuals that have visited your website.
The Pageviews metric shows how many pages were viewed on your site. If your website has just a single page, and you had 100 visitors to your site, more than likely you will have received 100 pageviews. Simple math. So the pageviews metric factors in how many pages your website has. If you have a very large site, and a large number of visitors, the amount of pageviews that you will receive is very high.
The amount of Average Pageviews shows on average how many pages a visitor has looked when visiting your website. The higher the number, the better. A higher number typically indicates a higher quality of visit. In an ideal world, a visitor will land on your homepage, go to your services pages, and then visit the contact page. You’ve just landed a potential customer, and best of all, you can track this with Google Analytics.
The Time on Site metric shows the average number of minutes or seconds that the average visitor has spent on your site. Again, a higher number will usually indicate that the visitor is interested in your website and has spent a good time browsing around the various pages.
The Bounce Rate shows how many times a visitor has left immediately after visiting the first page that they’ve landed on. While this is an important metric, it is more important to look at the bounce rate when viewing the New Visits metric. The reason behind this, is that the bounce rate on the dashboard report factors in New and Returning visitors. A Returning Visitor for example may just be visiting in order to trace a shipment, so the bounce rate for returning visitors will higher than new visitors. New visitors to your site will have a lower bounce rate. They will be interested in the services you offer, and will look around other pages of your website. The New Visitor/Bounce Rate report is not available within the default dashboard, and you will have to login or get a report setup in order to view these stats. Contact us on how you can do this (link to contact page).
The last metric shows the percentage of New Visitors. New visitors are people who are visiting your website for the first time. If you further dig down in this metric, you can figure out how your new visitors are reaching you – if they’re coming to your website directly or if they are searching for a specific keyword or term on Google and reaching you via a search engine.
Technical Profile – Browser and Connection Speed Data
The Technical profile section shows the technical aspect of the visit, such as browser and connection speed. This data is important to know if your website has some features which may be incompatible with a particular browser.
The connection speed shows what type of connection your visitor is using. In most urban centers DSL, Cable and other high speed connections will be most common. However, if your transportation company is primarily servicing a rural area where high speed connections are not prevalent, you will see a larger number of dial up connections. In this case, it is important to optimize your website so that it loads as quickly as possible for customers with slow connections.
Map Overlay – Where Are Your Visitors Coming From?
The map overlay is the last section of the report and shows you where your visitors are coming from. The PDF dashboard report will just show you the country of origin. You will want to login into your Google Analytics account and view the information in detail by clicking the specific country that you wish to gain information on. This will give you a further break down by region and city.
Google Analytics is a very powerful tool, and can be customized to an endless extent. If you have Google Analytics running on your site, that’s good news, because you’re already capturing all that key visitor data. If you don’t have Google Analytics, or simply wish to set more reports up to be e-mailed to you, contact us, and we’ll set you up.
CEO’s and other top management, need to understand that a website is an integral part of their company’s marketing efforts on the internet, and in addition, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is needed to further increase your visibility on the web. Optimizing your website for search engines should be your number one priority after launching or completely redesigning the company site. A well optimized site will allow you to achieve higher positioning in all the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. When users search for content using one of those search engines, they will typically only skim through several pages of search results. If your listing doesn’t show up within those pages, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to connect with your target audience.
For example, let’s say you have a potential customer in Ottawa, who sells computer equipment, and needs to ship out a skid load (Less than Truckload or LTL) of computer parts to Toronto. The web savvy customer will type in “LTL Ottawa Toronto” in the search engine, and a bunch of results related to LTL shipping throughout Ontario will show up. Will your company be among them? This is where SEO comes into play. Through the use of strategically placed keywords, well written original copy and other optimizations, your company can achieve a better search result on the web.
Here are some of our Top 10 tips for a successful website, both from a Marketing and a SEO perspective:
Because of the large amount of websites that exist on the Internet, in the past few years many SEO Marketing companies have popped up on the web. A lot of them will claim that they can offer a number one ranking for your website in Google or other search engines. According to Google, this is simply not the case. You cannot buy your way into getting a better search result on Google, but you can however optimize your site so that it has a better chance of showing up near the top of your search results. You can pay to run advertisements on Google through a program called AdWords, but we’ll explore that in a future SEO article.
We’re in the business of creating websites and marketing campaigns that communicate your unique story. Contact us, so that your CEO will get SEO, and that your CFO can LOL.