All About Those Clicks: Tools to Analyze Your Web Traffic14 min read
Analyzing your web traffic and user activity is one of the most powerful tactics for maintaining healthy SEO and publishing effective original content. Without a doubt, this should be a part of your overall digital strategy. At its most basic level, website traffic looks at the number of people visiting your site. In a broader sense, analyzing your site’s traffic is a key part of connecting you to your audience.
How can analyzing web traffic help you better connect to your audience?
Website analysis provides you with multiple levels of data about your users’ habits and trends. You can learn:
- How many people are visiting your site.
- What other sites and search engines are sending traffic your way.
- What keywords bring in the most visitors.
- How long visitors stay, what pages they visit, and where exactly they click on every page.
This information can then optimize your SEO and marketing strategies. Analyzing your web traffic helps you see what you’re doing right and how to improve.
- Are your keywords effective?
- Is your website attracting undesirable traffic that you didn’t know about?
- Are your calls to action being seen?
- Are visitors engaging with your content?
- Are they clicking on icons or sidebars that don’t have any associated links?
Represent Your Brand
In our digital-centric world, your website is more than likely a visitor’s first impression of you and your brand. Each visitor is an opportunity to increase your brand’s awareness, generate a new lead, and, in some cases, drive sales. Your website can even act as a compliment to your offline marketing strategies by giving you a place to direct new prospects. Now, more than ever, your website is an online platform through which you build relationships with potential customers.
Distilling the essence of your brand into a website is a daunting task, but one that is well worth the time and effort. Visitors are quick to click away if they don’t like what they see or can’t find what they’re looking for. Your web traffic can tell you how visitors are engaging with your content and whether or not you’re effectively communicating your brand.
Tools to Analyze Your Web Traffic
Ready to start analyzing your website traffic? There are plenty of tools available—and the best part is that most of them are free!
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you “monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.” This data helps you understand how Google sees your site. Knowing how to make this tool work for you can improve your SEO and your ranking in search results. Here are a few things you can do with Google Search Console:
- Confirm that Google can find and crawl your site.
- Find indexing problems and/or request new indexing.
- View search traffic for your site.
- Set up alerts if Google indexing finds errors or security risks on your site.
- See which sites link to your website.
- Troubleshoot issues for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and mobile usability.
- Identify which keywords and queries users are finding your site with.
So, who should use Google Search Console? In a nutshell, anyone with a website. Everyone from business owners, SEO specialists, marketers, site administrators, to web developers. Don’t worry if this all sounds intimidating. Google offers an excellent help page, and other resources to get you up and running.
This is another free resource from our helpful friends at Google. Google Analytics is a bit like Search Console, but focuses more heavily on tracking and reporting website traffic. The tricky thing about this resource is the sheer amount of information that is available. Knowing how to process this information is the key to really taking advantage of this resource. Here are some of the most useful statistics offered by Google analytics:
- How many people are visiting your site, and from what areas?
- Which other sites are sending visitors to you?
- Which search engines are sending visitors your way?
- How long do visitors stay on your site?
- Are your goals are being reached?
- What pages on your site are the most popular?
Not sure where to start? In addition to plenty of helpful articles, Google offers handy guided tours on how to find, save, export, share, and edit reports. You can even create custom reports based on the metrics that matter most to your business. Here’s a video tutorial on taking your first steps into the wonderful world of Google Analytics.
A heatmap is a way to display visitor data on a warm/cool color spectrum. These kinds of charts make it easy to see trends in large amounts of data. We see them all the time in weather forecasting. While most pie charts or line graphs need some amount of interpretation, a heatmap paints a clear visual picture and is easy to read.
In web analytics, a heatmap can be used to see where visitors click on your website, or how far down a page they scroll. It helps you see where visitors are directing their attention and if you have arranged your content to the greatest advantage. Heatmaps help answer the question: is my most important content being used to its fullest potential?
Here are a few easy tools to get you started with your own heatmaps:
- Crazyegg claims to be the original website heatmap tool. They offer a free trial of their services and also provide some insightful resources and case studies.
- Google offers a tool for generating heatmaps called Fusion Tables. Since this is a free tool it could be a great way to get started with your first few heatmaps. However, keep in mind that this service will not be available after December 3, 2019.
- Hotjar offers a free basic account for “personal projects and sites with low traffic.” For business accounts, they offer a free fifteen-day trial. Hotjar also offers some free resources to get you started.
Below is a heatmap for the DVS home page.
From the same people who brought us Keywords Everywhere, SEO Minion is a free browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. This tool helps you analyze on-page SEO. Once installed, your own personal minion will check redirects and broken links, generate a preview of your Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and also simulate a multi-location SERP. This is useful especially if you’re fairly new to SEO optimization. Use this alongside other tools for best results. After you install this extension, SEO Minion offers short how-to video.
Get to Know Your Users and Make it Personal
You can also ask your visitors for specific feedback. If your heatmap suggests that visitors are missing key elements of your page, you can create a poll or questionnaire to give you more details. Here are a few resources for creating (free!) professional looking surveys:
Keeping a Healthy Perspective
At the end of the day, analyzing your website traffic is so much more than page views and click-through rates. It’s all about connecting you to your audience. It’s easy to lose this perspective when you’re neck-deep in numbers, charts, and graphs, or lost in the winding labyrinth of Google. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try taking a step back to focus on the objectives of your website and your audience.
Here at DVS, we believe that every part of your digital strategy should be tailored to connect you to your audience. This includes website analysis. Though it can be a bit daunting, website analytics can help you maintain a vibrant and meaningful connection with your audience.
Have questions about how analyzing your website traffic can help forge a better connection with your audience? Feel free to contact us at https://www.dvs.com/contact. We’d love to talk!
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