3 tips for understanding website data and improving performance
How do you know if your website is performing well? You look at the data. But visits, bounce rates, click-through-rates, and other metrics can read like a foreign language to the uninitiated.
Just like learning the law, it takes time to learn the basic terminology. You also need to gain experience reviewing your website’s data so you can understand your particular market and find the tactics that help meet your goals. To get started on the right path, here are three tips:
1. Stay curious about web analytics metrics
Asking questions is essential to understanding the data for your website. You should seek to understand:
- How your website data is collected
- What system you are using to collect that data (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or another system)
- How the system you are using calculates the data to provide you with metrics like page views and bounce rates
Every system that collects website data may have slightly different definitions for the terms they use — or they may even use different terms altogether to describe similar metrics. They may also calculate these metrics in different ways.
This process of understanding where your data comes from and how it is calculated is not a one-and-done process. If you are diving deep into the numbers, you will be continually looking at these two things to understand what is happening with your website. You should never shy away from asking even the most basic questions.
2. Set your own custom benchmarks
But where do you get started? What are the first questions you should ask when you get access to website data? The first step is to start with your own goals for the website. By taking the time to outline what you want to get out of your website, you can choose the website metrics that can help you reach that goal.
For example, if you have a criminal defense practice that handles primarily drunk driving charges, then you want to make sure people can quickly find your website when doing a web search. This means that you want a high volume of traffic and no issues with the search engines finding your website.
In this example, the metrics you may want to monitor include traffic metrics such as website entries and visits. This will help you know if people are getting to your website. Then, if you find that your site traffic is increasing but you aren’t getting a higher number of calls to your firm, then you may want to look at conversion metrics like bounce rate, time spent on page, and exit pages. Generally, the bounce rate measures the rate at which people come to your website and then leave without taking any action. A metric like this can help you understand if your site needs to be updated to engage your potential customers.
Once you know the metrics you want to monitor, it can be difficult to know if the numbers you have right now are good or bad for your website. A digital marketer with experience in legal marketing may be able to look at your data and tell you where you stand, but that is because of their years of experience. To understand your own data, set today’s numbers as a benchmark. Then plan to review your data and compare it to that benchmark every month or every quarter. Over time, you will have a better understanding of where your site has improved and where it has opportunities.
3. Continually test and change
When you have set your benchmarks, you don’t want to simply rest on your laurels. With each review of your website’s data against your benchmarks, you have an opportunity to try to improve your numbers by making changes.
To go back to the previous example, if you found that more people are visiting your drunk driving defense site but you have the same number of calls, you want to improve conversion on your site. There are a lot of things you could test to try to get more people to call, including:
- The placement and style of your phone number on the website
- The description of the benefits you provide to clients
- The style and tone of your content
- The layout and design to improve the user experience
These are just a few elements that can be tested while you monitor the data to see if you can improve upon your benchmarks.
One important thing to remember: it can take time for your improvements to have an impact on your website performance. Be patient and give each test a few months’ time to see if there is a noticeable change in your numbers.
By asking questions, setting your benchmarks, and testing small changes to your website, you can gain a better understanding of your data. It takes time, but this process helps ensure you are getting a strong return on your investment in your website.