Image of race starting line representing getting started with Google Analytics to improve business performanceYou’re a local business owner that has developed a steady customer base the old-fashioned way—networking, billboards, etc. You also know the Internet has drastically changed the game and shows no signs of stopping. Making concessions to the modern era, you put up a website. Now you hear many theories about what needs to happen from your employees (especially those young millennials), family, friends and even some marketing guru that cold-calls you to pitch their services.

But you’re skeptical. You didn’t build your business by chasing every theory that got tossed across your desk. Still you’re also uncertain because you’re in unfamiliar territory. The answer to your conundrum is simple—learn how to use Google Analytics. It’s the tool that separates fact from fiction and working idea from reasonable theory. Google Analytics is your online window to the real world.

“Google Analytics contains actual data about how people use your site.”

Google Analytics contains actual data about how people use your site. If you’re just getting started with Analytics and want to dig past the obvious number at the top of the dashboard—how many people are visiting the site in a given period—here are some basic tips you can follow:

Begin With Acquisitions

Look at the Acquisitions tab to find out how people get to your site. Are they coming from a search engine? A referral from another site that may have you linked (if you’re an established local store, you can set up cross-referrals with fellow business owners in non-competing areas)? Or are they coming directly to the home page?

“The direct user is your most valuable—they’ve specifically sought you out online. Dig deeper and find out what secondary pages they visit.”

Each acquisition avenue means something different. The direct user is your most valuable—they’ve specifically sought you out online. Dig deeper and find out what secondary pages they visit. Or, if they aren’t going anywhere at all, you can look at doing something with the home page—a pop-up or some other call-to-action-to move them deeper into the site.

Coming In From Search

If it’s a visitor from a search engine, Congratulations! Your site clearly has some content valuable enough to be recognized by Google and presented in search results. Now, approach your website like a user—where the secondary page that they landed on is treated like the home page.

This is the online equivalent of a person appearing in your store through an aisle in the middle, having never visited you before. If that were possible, you’d be sure that every aisle had clear instructions explaining how to get to the front of the store. Also, you want them to know what you do and have some way of keeping in touch with them. Treat your most popular search engine pages the same way.

Time Is Money

Look carefully at the amount of time spent on the site. In the real world, you’d give more attention the prospect who came into your store and carefully perused several items with obvious interest — even if that came at the expense of the person who popped their head in the door, looked around quickly and left.

The number of people spending worthwhile time on the site may be a small percentage of the overall traffic, but those people are more likely to spend money on you. So look at what they’re doing, and figure out how you can make them happier.

Mobile Rules

What percentage of your traffic is mobile based? If your site is typical, it’s the majority—maybe even a sizable majority. Can they accomplish on their smartphone what you hope they will when they visit your site? As a local store, someone might be out and about trying to locate you or get your store hours. Make sure the information is quickly presented to them in a mobile friendly way.

“You’ll begin to know – in a data backed way – how to make your website a better sales machine.”

These tips scratch the surface of what you can learn from Google Analytics. If you grasp these basics, you’ll begin to know – in a data backed way – how to make your website a better sales machine.

Want to know how your website is really performing? Contact our Google Analytics experts today.