Earlier this week, I posted a blurb about what people are looking for on author websites. Today, I want to continue the thought and discuss Google Analytics and why every author website should have it.
First, for those who aren’t familiar with it, Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google to anyone who has a Google email address or account. It involves taking a bit of code and adding it to the footer of every page on your website. Google can then track all the visits to your site, including how people got there, what kind of browser they’re using, what country they’re in and — most relevant to this conversation — which pages on your site they’re going to.
At any point in time, you can then go into your Google Analytics account and take a look at your site traffic statistics. You can also have it set up so that you automatically receive a report on a weekly or monthly basis with the pertinent information. We set this up for each and every one of our clients, and they each receive a free monthly report with their web traffic statistics.
It’s only with this type of information that an author can figure out exactly what people are actually looking at on their website, and then he or she can deduce which elements of the website they should dedicate more time to, and which may be a waste of time.
Let’s use SmartAuthorSites.com as an example. According to Google Analytics, other than our homepage, the page on the site that gets the most traffic is called “clientele.” That makes sense, because the first thing people want to see before they decide whether to work with us is which sites we’ve created in the past and what those sites look like. After that, the most popular pages are the ones on our services and the process, followed by this blog. The FAQs page and the About Us page don’t get much traffic at all. So, in my case, this means that I need to make sure I update the clientele page regularly, but I don’t need to pay a whole lot of attention to the FAQs. Without Google Analytics, I’d be making these decisions blindly.
This is why an author needs to use Google Analytics. It’s the only way to know what people are looking at. Otherwise, you’re just taking a stab in the dark when you decide that you’re going to post photos every week, but you don’t update your blog. Or vice versa.
And I keep citing blogs because this is the part of an author website that Google Analytics helps with the most. Too many authors I’ve worked with have a blog, but don’t update it. And why not? Because they feel like they’re writing something that no one is reading. If there are no comments on a post, they’re prone to think no one saw it. And who wants to waste their time writing blog entries if no one is reading them? But Google Analytics will let you know how many people are actually looking at your blog. And it can be a real eye opener. Because even if no one has commented on a post, you still might have had up to 100 people that read it! If that’s not motivation to keep blogging, I don’t know what is.