Small business owners know that their customers are headed online. That’s why you’re working hard to create a Web site that attracts customers, understands their problems, and sets your business up as the answer to that problem. But how do you know if your site is working? If it’s meeting the objectives you originally set out and if you’re connecting with your customers?
You could guess or you use Web Analytics to help you understand exactly what is happening on your Web site.
If you’re a site owner and you don’t have an analytics platform running (Google Analytics  is powerful and free), you’re missing out on all the ways analytics can help grow your business. How can it do that?
Below are just a few examples.
- Understand Your Keywords BetterWe all thinkwe understand the words and phrases that are driving people to our site. However, your analytics will actually tell you. You’ll be able to dig into your organic search traffic to see which phrases are most powerful in helping people to find your Web site. You’ll also be able to take a big step forward to see not only the rate at which people search a term, but how searchers looking for [keyword x] perform on your site.For example, how many pages do users looking for [custom cowboy boots] look at per visit? How long do they stay? Are they new or returning visitors? Does that search term lead to a visit or a conversion? Once you understand this information you can cross-reference it with other data to help make important site tweaks and segment keywords.
- Understand CustomersOf course, by understanding your keywords better, you’re also working to understand your customers better, as well. You start to see patterns in their behavior and can segment them the same way you’re segmenting your keywords. You may find that users who come to your site after reading reviews about you on Yelp are more likely to convert, even though they view fewer pages. Or you may find that users are taking a different funnel through your site than you had anticipated. Maybe you’re finding they need more information-heavy pages before they’re ready to make a purchase or they need more trust factors. By looking at your analytics and becoming familiar with the path and the activities your visitors take, you set yourself up better to target them and improve their experience on your site.
- Understand Social ActivityBack in May I outlined the new Google Social reports  designed to help business owners better understand the social activity on their website. If you missed that post, give it a read now. I truly believe these social reports offer SMBs some of the biggest bang for their buck. They allow SMBs to tie social engagement to real dollar conversions, find conversations on the Web to participate in, show how users from certain social networks behave on their site, and more. If you’ve stayed away from social media because you weren’t sure how to track social ROI, these reports help you to accomplish that.
- Understand Page QualityBy tapping into your analytics you’ll also be able to find which pages are helping users complete their goals…and which are maybe sending them off track. The Visitor Flow visualizations in Google Analytics are really helpful in showing you how your pages are performing and where they’re sending (or not sending) users. Pages that are found to NOT be sending users deeper into the conversion path should be rewritten to better address goals. By highlighting problem areas on your site, it allows you to fix and handle them.
- Understand Offline SuccessesSo not everything related to your business is happening online. You’re participating in events in your community, you’re speaking at local workshops, and you’re constantly creating new brochures or commercials for local television. Your Web analytics can help you measure these successes as well, and it can help you do it in a number of ways.For example, maybe you decide to set up different URLs for radio and print ads to allow you to track which advertising method was more successful. Or you can use radio advertising to encourage people to search for specific search term and monitor that activity. Or you can skulk which terms visitors are using to find you and match them to offline actions. Just because something originates offline, doesn’t mean it won’t end up back on your Web site. Your analytics can help you track it.
Studying your Web analytics allows you to see exactly what is happening on your site, allowing you to respond to it and your customers. Over time, these insights can help SMBs create stronger businesses that are more focused on the needs and wants of their customers.
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