Your website is the cornerstone of your efforts to be found by prospective patients online, and understanding how it’s performing is essential. Without analyzing the amount of traffic, page views, and patterns of user activity on your site, your marketing and content choices would essentially be a guessing game. With the ever-increasing, versatile analytics tools available (many of which are free), there’s no reason not to use this handy, behind-the-scenes information to your advantage.
While many tools specifically designed for detailed website analytics exist, we’ve focused on one of the most popular and approachable analytic tools available: Google Analytics. It’s free, informative, and easy to use, making it the obvious first choice for most website owners who don’t have the time, interest, or budget to master a more robust program.
The metrics offered by Google Analytics are more than enough for making effective marketing and SEO choices for your business. Below are the top metrics we recommend paying attention to for optimizing your digital marketing strategies.
Number of Sessions
Digital marketing is an effective tool for increasing your presence online. More specifically, it’s aimed at increasing your website’s visibility online. One of the clearest ways to measure the effectiveness of any digital marketing campaign (such as a series of pay-per-click ads, for instance) is to look at the overall number of sessions (aka visits) your website received while a campaign was active.
Tucked beneath the total number of sessions your website had is the percentage of new sessions, which reflects the number of new visitors to your website. This figure gives you insight into whether your ad is attracting new attention and also whether your website offers enough value to bring previous visitors back.
Traffic Source Channels
If you’ve been investing in getting paid traffic to your website, then the channels metric might end up being your first stop in Google Analytics. This dataset is located by scrolling down on your homepage “dashboard,” or by clicking on “Acquisition” and then on “Overview.” It’s where you can see a clear breakdown of how people are finding your website. By default, it organizes your website traffic into 8 channels:
- Organic search
- Paid search
- Other advertising
Your percentage breakdown of traffic will only reflect the channels which have actually sent users to your site. You can get a more detailed picture of exactly which websites and ad campaigns are directing traffic your way by clicking on any one of the channels (highlighted in blue text).
The percentage of sessions that involved a visit to only one page of your site before the visitor left is called your “Bounce Rate.” It can be found on your homepage dashboard and, once clicked, will give you a more detailed graph and analysis. Your bounce rate reveals several aspects of the user experience on your website: Is your homepage attractive and easy to navigate? Is your content interesting, relevant and engaging? Is your page navigation menu easy to find?
Naturally, website owners want this number to be as low as possible, but it’s important to realize that many website visitors may simply be visiting your site for your contact information. This will often lead them to one page and have them on their way to, hopefully, be calling or emailing you directly.
Knowing how well your website is engaging and holding the attention of your visitors is helpful for analyzing the overall appeal of your content and your website in general. It also helps reveal how effective your audience targeting efforts are for your various marketing campaigns. For instance, if you specialize in treating tinnitus and have included several helpful articles on your blog specifically about tinnitus, but are seeing low engagement with that content in general, you might consider whether your marketing targets are not, in fact, tinnitus sufferers before you overly critique how helpful or engaging your content is.
By clicking on “Audience” (in the left menu column) and then clicking on the “Behavior” drop-down menu, you’ll find the “Engagement” dataset. There are multiple layers of user behavior that you can focus on to get an idea of overall user engagement. Looking at the session durations will tell you if your pages are holding visitors’ attention. Page depth will give you a sense of how many pages are being visited in a session. Ideally, you’d want to see your visitors exploring your website’s pages and spending a reasonable amount of time on those with engaging content.
Site Content Breakdown
If you navigate to the main “Behavior” menu on the left-side column, you’ll find a drop-down menu titled “Site Content.” This is where you can learn which pages on your website are the most popular, and how long visitors are spending on each page.
If you’ve been creating your digital ads with a link to a specific page on your website, it can be invaluable to know if people are spending much time on that page at all. You can also set up tracking to monitor conversions on that page if you’d like to find out if people are taking any action (i.e. clicking) on that page. You would set that up under “Goals” in the “Conversions” menu. In general, having a good sense of which pages are the most popular on your site can be helpful when designing new marketing campaigns.
Desktop Vs. Mobile
Surely, by now, you’ve heard us (and many others) strongly encourage you to have a mobile-friendly website. With statistics across the board letting us know that the world is going mobile, it’s no surprise that search engines like Google have decided to penalize websites that are not mobile-friendly by ranking them lower in search results.
Beyond these future projections, however, is more specific data directly from your website visitors themselves. When you click on the “Audience” menu on the left-hand column and navigate down to the “Mobile” drop-down menu, you’ll get a clear picture of the percentage of your visitors who are looking at your site on a mobile device (either a phone or a tablet).
Data showing which devices your visitors are on can be helpful for understanding whether their experience of your website is either bolstered (i.e. mobile optimized) or hampered by the smaller screens they’re using. After all, the best marketing strategies combine efforts to get new visitors to your site with those aimed at retaining visitors already there. Ensuring that your content and office information is easy to find and read on any device is an important first step.
Using Google Analytics to keep track of your marketing efforts and overall trajectory of your website is completely free, and set-up is as easy as entering in your website’s URL and waiting a day for your first set of data. By following the metrics we highlighted above, you’ll be on your way to tailoring your digital marketing efforts for your most successful campaigns yet.