Get Anal-Retentive about your Anal-ytics

A short month after I was bestowed the auspicious status of SEO-Chick, I finally got let out of my SEOmoz cage and am thus just now authoring my first post. (Sorry Lisa, it’s been a busy month at the MozQuarters. Please don’t abuse me in yet another one of your drunken stupors.)

Anyway, one of the tasks I was busy with was putting together extensive site reviews for a couple of clients. One of the sections of the site review was an analytics overview, detailing what actions should be tracked, how to use your analytics, and specific action tracking recommendations. I’m sure a lot of you are rolling your eyes and thinking “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is all common sense stuff.” To that I say clearly you’ve never had clients, because you’d be surprised at how even the most basic stuff flies over their heads.

Not that analytics is basic, of course. All of those numbers, pie charts, and links can be pretty damn overwhelming, especially if you’re a non-math, non-business, non-anything analytics-related whatsoever major like me. Like anything worth getting the hang of, however, analytics can be conquered if you simply try, try, try. And by try, of course, I don’t mean log in once a month, poke around a bit and ooh and ahh over the purdy charts, and leave.

No sir (or ma’am), you have to get anal-retentive about your analytics. I’m talking obsessed. Like logging in every morning and checking your stats from the day before. Checking in every half hour to bask in the traffic bump from the Digg (or Sphinn?) Effect. Not noticing your non-SEO friends’ eyes glaze over as you spout on and on about referring links and search terms and reduced bounce rates. Once you get into the habit of checking regularly, it won’t matter if you studied home decorating in school–you’ll know what the hell you’re doing.

That is, of course, if you know what to look for. Any schmuck can log in every day and click around frantically like a coked-out bunny rabbit trying to hop across the freeway. What the hell are you supposed to focus on? Well, this post is a good start. The article recommends keeping track of the following:

  • referring search terms from search engines
  • referring URLs
  • your site’s most popular pages
  • visits to the home page
  • site overlay reports
  • site bounce rate

To that list I’d also add anything that converts on your site–any call to action, such as an email link, any “Request a Demo/Brochure/More Information” link, add to cart links, checkout links, etc. Basically, what’s the point of having calls to action on your pages if you’re not keeping track of which ones work better than others? Also, be sure to pay attention to your analytics after you’ve made any changes on your site so that you can track whether or not those changes worked well.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should essentially pay attention to any data or stat that can help you improve whatever your site’s inherent goal is, whether that be to sell products, increase sign ups, encourage user participation, etc. Also, don’t wet your pants over a sudden spike in traffic in the assumption that OH MY GOD it’s a trend! You need to watch your analytics over a larger chunk of time in order to analyze long-term results.

There ya have it. Get off yer ass and start obsessin’!

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