Last week I wrote an article on SEO, today I realized I was putting the horse before the buggy.
Before anyone concentrates on search engine optimization they have to decide what their site needs to do.
What do you want your site to do? Do you want people to sign up for your news letter? Buy your product? Do you want to generate leads? Attract more readers? Funnel traffic to your Facebook page? Earn donations?
In other words, how do you want your site to make you money?
The first step to an effective website is a clear decision of what your website is for. The second step is measurement.
Enter Google Analytics. This amazing tool will let you track conversions, bounce rate, traffic sources and clicks (and a whole lot more). All you need to do is add a few short lines of code to the HTML file on your site. When you sign up Google walks you through the process on how to do so. If that’s something you’re not comfortable with, call up your web developer. Whoever built your site should be able to do this in under a minute. I’d try to get them to do it for free…
Since we know what we want our site to do, we can have Google help us track how well it does it by defining goals. As they put it
“Goal conversions are the primary metric for measuring how well your site fulfills business objectives. A goal is a website page which a visitor reaches once they have made a purchase or completed another desired action, such as a registration or download.”
So, say you want people to sign up for your newsletter. Your site might be set up so that once the user clicks submit and gives you their email address, they are taken to a page that says “Thanks for signing up for the news letter!” You would want to set a goal with a URL destination pointing to that site. Now you are measuring how well your site is working.
I have two sets of goals on this site. First, I want to know how many people are trying to find out more info about buying the book. So, I have a goal defined as visits to the book’s page. Second, I want people to read what I write! So, I have a goal set up defined as time spent on the site. In my case I chose 1.5 minutes, because that’s how long I figure it takes to skim most of the articles here. You can even set up funnels that will let you define a series of steps that count as a goal. For example, if your site has two routes a user can take to make a purchase these could each be funnels and you could track which way works better for users by seeing how many people complete each funnel.
These are the two actions that are likely to make this site money (and I need it to…) the other action is people clicking on the ads (visit our sponsors! please.) but that is all tracked from AdSense, Google’s advertising delivery service.
So far, I’m very pleased with how many people want to find out more about the book (I’m waiting on the 2nd proof now. If it looks good it comes out mid July!) Nearly 25% of the people who visit the site click to find out more about the book. But, my bounce rate is too high! So expect to see some changes on the site soon… too many new visitors aren’t staying long enough or visiting more than one page. I’ll be sure to update you on my experiments to bring this number down.
Once you start gathering information about your site’s performance, you can start improving it! Are people not finding your product? Are they bouncing (leaving immediately)? Google Analytics can help you understand where people are clicking and how they are navigating your site. Then, you can begin to improve your site’s money making potential.