The first step when creating a website is to determine its purpose. Every website should have a goal; whether it is to make sales, encourage downloads, collect contact form submissions, drive phone calls or something else. Once you have established your goals and created your website, it is equally important to track them.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can help website owners track traffic and goals to determine the effectiveness of the website. According to Google Analytics, “Goal conversions are the primary metric for measuring how well your site fulfills business objectives.” Google has made setting up goals in Analytics simple and straightforward and a feature all websites should take advantage of to track conversions.
When you think of website goals, the ability to track purchases on e-commerce sites may come to mind first. However, Google Analytics tracking isn’t just limited to monetary goals. A few examples of goals that Google Analytics allows users to track are:
- Leads (such as filling out a contact form)
- PDF downloads
- Printing or emailing pages
- Sharing content through social media buttons
- Video interactions
- Page visits
- Time on site
Depending on the nature of your site, the goals you choose to measure will vary. Google Analytics explains that, “A goal conversion is registered once a visitor completes a desired action on your site, such as a registration or a download.” It is important to create a specific goal completion page if your site does not already have one; an example of this would be a thank you page after a purchase or contact form submission. When this page is displayed, it notifies Google that a goal conversion has been completed. If you are tracking interactions, events will need to be setup and some may require additional tracking code. (http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/eventTrackerGuide.html)
Once you have established which goals to track in Google Analytics, created the appropriate landing pages and event tracking in place, it is time to interpret your data. Goal tracking allows you to find out if visitors are navigating your site the way you had intended and if they are not, to determine how they are converting. A few areas to consider:
- Which traffic sources lead to the most goal conversions? By evaluating which keywords searchers are using to find your site, you can optimize pages based on relevant high traffic keywords.
- Which landing pages are leading to conversions? Successful landing pages can be assessed and used as models to create new pages and improve upon existing content.
- Which campaigns are leading to goal conversions? Looking at which campaigns are successfully converting visitors will help you determine whether your email, social media, or PPC campaigns are effective. Successful campaigns can be used as models for future promotions.
- Which countries, regions, and cities lead to the most goal conversions? If certain areas are converting more than others, it would be worth experimenting with geo-targeting through PPC, Facebook, or email campaigns.
Whether you are creating a brand new website, or revamping an existing one, it is important to have your goals in mind. Tracking your goals and adjusting strategies is a great way to ensure that your website is performing at its best. Setting up and monitoring your goals in Google Analytics are a great place to start.