Where Is Your Business Coming From?
By Glenn Cowan
Knowing where your business is coming from is pretty much essential for any company that has online exposure. However, for whatever reason, a great many company owners don’t really have a handle on this. Website owners often just classify everything that comes in as “online”, without perhaps taking the time to fully understand what channel is generating what.
If you run a website and fall into the “trap” mentioned above then its very likely that you won’t really know where your leads, sales and ultimately profits are coming from.Thankfully, there are a few quick and easy ways to get to the nitty gritty, when it comes to understanding what channels produce for you.
What Are Channels?
When we refer to channels from an online perspective we are simply talking about the different platforms that your website is shown on.This will include any paid, organic and social activity that you are involved with.
Here is a list of the likely channels and platforms that will be driving traffic, enquiries and business to your website.
Organic - Search - Google / Bing and other search engines
Organic - Social - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / LinkedIn / YouTube / Instagram
Paid - Search - Google / Bing and other platforms
Paid - Social - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / LinkedIn / YouTube / Instagram
Keeping An Eye On Things
If you have an active online presence then keeping any eye on what’s going on can be a reasonable task. However, there is one free product that helps you to understand most of the traffic that is coming to your website. Yes, in world where most things cost money, it’s nice to have a free service that works!
Using Google Analytics to track and measure how visitors are finding and engaging with your website is a real blessing. Even though it is a Google product, it will still pull in data from other service providers. Meaning that your Facebook social information and Bing ads are all imported into the console management area.
Google Analytics Setup
For those who are new, getting set-up with Google Analytics is a pretty easy task.
Firstly head over to the Analytics website - https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ once there you will need to create a free Google account, or login with your existing one.
Enter a few bits of information about your website, primarily it’s URL and the industry that you are in and the Analytic tags are then created. At this point, you will need to install this tag onto your website. If you have a simple site you can either do this via FTP or by using your content management system (CMS). This is particularly easy for WordPress users as you can install a free plugin that will take care of everything for you.
Larger sites might want to consider making use of the Google Tag Manager, which again is free, but offers a greater degree of control, especially when adding Goals (more on this later). Once you have successfully installed the tracking code onto your website you will be able to see both real-time and historical data from all of the channels that drive traffic to your website. There is likely to be a small amount of configuration to allow some of the external channels to show up properly - however, this isn’t a big job to get done.
Now that you have traffic information coming in you might want to take a look at setting up some goals in Google Analytics. The most obvious ones would be when a visitor completes some form of enquiry on your site. This could be from a contact page or if say you were a real estate agent, from your property listing pages. Once you have setup a conversion goal then this applies across whatever traffic platforms you are using, allowing you to fully understand the performance of different traffic streams.
Aside from what we have covered above you should also be checking on your position of the website in the search results page. Rather than searching for your brand name, you should be thinking about the most likely terms that a new customer might use. So for example if you are a realtor then it is likely that “condo for rent in xxx” might well be one of the phrases you would examine.
It is important to recognize that when you click on results from the organic area the search engines “remember” this interaction. Put simply, Google and the other search engines work hard to provide you with information that they believe is useful you you. This is what is referred to as “tailored results”.So, when you do check your own rankings it is very likely that your website is “elevated” into a false position in the results page.
What you need to do is to make sure you are viewing the results from a new searchers perspective. The way to do this is to search in an “incognito mode”. A feature that is available on all main browsers, including; Chrome, IE, Edge, Firefox etc, etc.
Of course, if you do find that your ranking position isn’t quite where you thought it would be then partnering with a reputable digital marketing agency can be a good way to help raise the profile of your website.
Hopefully this post has been a worthwhile read and you will have at least ensured that your Google Analytics account is set-up and configured properly. Delving into the world of goals can provide you with key insights into what parts of your site work better than others. There is also a plethora of data available to show other key metrics, such as bounce rate, number of pages viewed and average time spent on site, all of which make Google Analytics a must have free tool.
Checking your organic rankings and taking action to improve these is also highly recommended.
Feel free to drop me a line if you have a particular topic that you’d like me to cover in future post. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org most days.