We set up Google Analytics reports for all of our authors who have their sites hosted with us. Unfortunately, I think a large majority of those authors don’t really understand — and thus, don’t value — the report for all of its valuable information.
With that in mind, here are the five things that you should be looking for in your report, and how that information can make a huge difference in the success of your website.
1. Most trafficked pages. Pay close attention to which pages on your site are getting the most eyeballs. Then make sure that you use that page to accomplish your goal. If, for example, your goal for a website is to sell copies of your book; and, for example, people are looking at your homepage far more than your book page; then make sure you’re promoting your book properly on the homepage and offering an easy way for visitors to buy it from there.
2. Most read blog entries. If you blog on a regular basis, pay close attention to which of your blog posts are getting the most pageviews. Do humorous posts do better than serious ones? Do longer posts do better than short ones? Only by figuring out which ones are most read can you master the art of blogging to a wide audience.
3. Sources of traffic. How are people arriving on your author website? Are they getting there via a keyword search? From Facebook? See what’s working and stick with it. Then see what you can improve in the areas that are not working.
4. Visits vs. Unique visitors. First, let’s start with a definition of what these are. Visits are the number of “arrivals” on your website in the specified amount of time. Unique visitors are the number of individuals who visited your website in that same amount of time. So if you had 100 unique visitors and half of them came back twice, then you’d have 150 visits. These numbers are important because they let you know how often people are coming back to the site. If there’s not a big differential between unique visitors and visits, then you need to think about ramping up your efforts to keep the site current and to offer an incentive for people to return.
5. Landing pages and exit pages. A landing page is the first page that someone sees on your site (i.e. where they land). An exit page is the last page someone sees on your site before they leave. Make sure your landing page is exciting and really encourages people to stay on the site. You’d be surprised how often a site’s homepage is NOT its landing page. And pay attention to your exit pages, too… those are the ones that aren’t doing a good enough job keeping people engaged.
See how valuable this information is? It could mean the difference between selling thousands of copies of your book … and only selling a few. It could also mean the difference between having a marketing list of thousands (a HUGE boon for authors when they approach publishers) and a short list of friends and family.
Pay attention to your analytics, people!