Do you know how many visitors your website is attracting?
I remember learning in management training school that you can't improve anything until you start measuring it. And one of the most important things for you to measure when it comes to your website is...
I remember learning in management training school that you can't improve anything until you start measuring it. And one of the most important things for you to measure when it comes to your website is the number of visitors you are getting.
The more you know about how much traffic is coming to your website, which pages your visitors are viewing, how long they spend on each page, which page they land on first, which page most of them leave from, what proportion come via search engines or other websites... the better placed you are to understand what is working and what isn't. And once you start to understand that information, of course, you can start to experiment with changes and improvements, knowing that the results of your changes will be measurable.
You may or may not already have access to your webstats. Some hosting packages include them, some don't. So if you don't already measure, record and analyse your visitor numbers on a regular basis, your first step is to check if the information is already there for you. If it's not, don't worry - there's a very good and free service you can subscribe to through Google.
Google Analytics is the free webstats package that I use for all my websites these days. It does involve a certain amount of setting up and will require you to add a small piece of HTML code to each of your web pages (which should be a particularly straightforward task for your website designer). But once it's done, the information is phenomenal.
You can access data at a simple overview level if that's all you want, or you can drill down to the minutest detail. You can also set your account up to send you a weekly report (or multiple reports if you want) by email.
If you don't already have a Google account, you will have to register yourself, but it's a simple sign-up process.
Once you start looking at your stats, there's any amount of data to play with. So it's important to know the difference between some of the terms you'll come across. The key piece of information for you to look at is the number of 'unique' visitors to your website. If you just measure visitors without checking how many of them are unique, you'll get a figure that tells you, for example, that 5 people have visited your website when actually it's only one person who's visited 5 times. Web statistics will often also tell you how many 'hits' your site has had. This information is pretty useless when it comes to analysing visitor numbers, so I don't advise paying it much attention beyond idle curiosity.
There's also a useful distinction to be made between visits by living, reading beings and visits by search engines (often referred to as spiders or bots). So if you can get stats that break that information down for you, it's useful to know.
Once you have an idea of visitor numbers, the next step is to calculate what conversion rates you are achieving. If you have a sign-up box for a free report, you can calculate what percentage of visitors are actually signing up. Even if you don't have a sign-up box yet, you can still calculate the percentage of your website visitors who are contacting you. And then you can measure the percentage of sign-ups or contacts that actually convert into paying clients.
You see? Once you have the data, you can start to make changes to your copy, to the positioning of your sign-up box, to pretty much anything - and you can measure the results. Instead of making changes blindly, wondering if anything will ever make a difference, you'll be able to make informed decisions about your website, measure the results and be very clear about the effectiveness of your improvements.
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