Most home business owners probably don’t have a problem with the word ‘Google’. Indeed, it’s a godsend to reach the answer to pretty much anything with just a few taps of the keyboard. Add the word ‘Analytics’ into the mix, however, and all but the geekiest of small business owners are likely to run a mile.
It’s not just that it doesn’t sound fun. It’s that it sounds like something that someone else should do. And it doesn’t sound easy, so compared to the sexier parts of running a business – R&D, sales, networking – analytics and search engine optimization (SEO) can usually be found fairly low down the ‘to do’ list.
There are two myths to bust, here. The first is that Google Analytics is rocket science. In fact, up to 50 million websites already use the service – and they’re not all run by geniuses. The second is that a carefully monitored SEO strategy is in any way optional to a home business that considers its website to be its shop front. It’s not optional: it’s essential.
Google Analytics will show you how many people are finding that shop front, and indeed which ‘aisles’ they’re visiting and how long they’re spending there. It will also give you clues on how to improve traffic if the numbers are not as high as you expected or needed. You will learn new insights about who your customers (and near-misses) are: from where on the net do they arrive? What are they looking for? Are you accidentally attracting a market to which you don’t cater – and might it be possible for you to capitalize on this?
The free service will also help you figure out whether your social media channels are pulling their weight or wasting your time – and whether those paid ads in which you’ve invested and proving their worth.
How to get started
You just need a free Google log-in to get started. If your business is a one-person show, you might want to use the log-in associated with your Gmail account; if your business is a bit bigger or you’re planning to expand, it’s worth setting up a Google profile specifically for your marketing or tech department (even if that’s just you for the moment).
Head to analytics.google.com and use that log-in to, well, log in.
You’ll add a few details to your account, such as your website’s URL, and then be guided to add a line of tracking code to your website. If you use a content management system such as Jetpack or Drupal then it should be straightforward; otherwise, it’s no biggie – or at least, no more annoying than those other web tasks that take you twenty minutes longer than expected and have you sighing, ‘couldn’t they have made this simpler’?
The Analytics homepage can seem a bit busy at first, so it’s a good idea to spend some time getting to know it so as not to become overwhelmed. Here is where you can track where your users are coming from, whether you attract return users, and other demographic and statistical trends. If you’ve dabbled in AdWords – Google’s pay-per-click promotion service – you’ll also be able to trace how many clicks you’re getting and how profitable they’re proving from right here on your homepage.
Analyzing your website
There’s a lot you can do with Analytics, so if SEO isn’t your main game it’s best to take it step by step and use the data to tweak a different facet of your website each day. This excellent new infographic from Headway Capital offers a visual guide on how to take it one bite at a time.
After a few days you should start to feel that your website is optimized, clutter-free, and bringing in traffic. Great. Now you can simply use Analytics to monitor how things are going, make minor tweaks where necessary, and make a thorough check at regular intervals throughout the month. Suddenly Analytics is working for you and the word takes on positive associations as your business website thrives!