Monday, May 4, 2009

So You Thought Chasing Ghosts was Easy

You have proven to be a top notch Internet marketer and you are diving thousands of visitors to your site each day. No? That's not happening? Don't fret. There's more to chasing ghosts than you think.

I see driving traffic to your site similar to hand cranking a generator. As long as you keep cranking, the lights stay on and traffic flows to your site. Once you stop, the lights go out and your traffic goes away. The key is content and frequent content. So make sure you have interesting material and you update it at least once a week or more.

Just six reports will tell you all you need to know

Now that you have the basics, there are really just six reports that will tell you all you need to know. And you can create a customized dashboard on Google Analytics showing just these six key performance indicators (KPI).

Here are the coveted six KPIs:

1. Where visitors are coming from; what websites or links are bringing people to your site.

You can find this information under the Traffic Sources link on your Google dashboard.

Under Traffic Sources you will see Direct Traffic. These are visitors who know your site URL and either typed it directly into their browsers or have it as an RSS link or saved in favorites. These are loyal visitors who want to make sure they find your site again. So work on driving up your direct traffic by posting your site address, emailing it to friends, relatives, and coworkers and just shamelessly promoting it.

The other KPI under Direct Traffic is Referring Sites. This information will tell you which sites are driving the most traffic to your site. These are the blogs and sites where a link to your site is listed if you had done your homework and asked to exchange links or left comments on blogs. The highest traffic generator this week for this blog was Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 blog where he was gracious enough to run my post announcing this blog. My post drove traffic to this site.

2. What search engines and keywords are driving visitors to your site?

You will see the link Search Engines also under Traffic Sources. Here is a list of the search engines used the most by your visitors. When you first start using analytics only Google will show up since it is most popular. In a few weeks, you should see others. You may want to place an ad on the search engine home page that drives the most traffic.

Keywords are probably the most valuable KPI in the mix. When you click on the Keywords link you will see the words your visitors put in the search engines to find your site. These are the words you want to make sure are always used on every page of your site or in all the posts on your blog. For this blog, I'm finding "dog chasing ghosts" are the most popular keywords and that is the title of this blog. I purposely chose that title because it intrigues most people and is easy to remember. And analytics is proving me correct.

Keywords are the words you want to make sure are always used on every page of your site or in all the posts on your blog.

Keywords are also important when you bid on adwords through Google. If "ghosts" is my most popular keyword, I could buy (bid) on its ranking for this blog. Depending how deep my pockets are would determine how high in the search list my site will appear when visitors search for "ghosts" on Google. There is a lot more information on adwords at Google so check it out if you want to know more.

3. Content. This is what it is all about.

If you don't have good content nothing you do will keep your traffic flowing. Under the Content link on your dashboard you will see which content generated the most visitors. This is a highly important indicator because it will show you what your visitors want to read, and what subject matter is most important to them.

With a website, the content metric will tell you which content is most popular. With this information you can then optimize the other pages with similar content.

With a blog, you can see which subject matter is most important to your visitors and post accordingly.

With my other blog, The Writer's Edge, the analytics tells me that the most popular posts deal with how to articles on writing and publishing. This tells me that the majority of the audience is composed of aspiring writers and just published authors.

4. Top Landing Pages

A nice metric under Content tells you which pages are most interesting to your visitors. Analytics also gives you the bounce rate for each page. Remember bounce rate are visitors who stayed less than 10 seconds. This metric will not only tell you which page is most successful, it will tell you which pages need to be changed or fixed to make them more attractive.

5. Top Exit Pages

Just the opposite of Top Landing Pages. Did the majority of your visitors exit from your home page? If so, there is nothing there to entice them to explore further on your site. Or did they exit on the last page of your navigation tree meaning that they viewed your entire site before leaving.

6. The Site Overlay

A really cool feature and its free! When you launch it, a new window with your site pops up and in a few seconds boxes appear over your links with percentages in them. When you scroll your mouse over the boxes, it tells you how many times visitors clicked on those links in a given time period. This is especially helpful on a home page because you can see if your visitors clicked on your navigation links to go to other pages. If you find that your visitors are clicking on links that take them off your site, I would eliminate those.

Another cool thing about this tool is that you can change the layout of your page to see the best place to position your navigation links or checkout cart.

Well, that's it for now. Don't tell me your brain hurts - just open your dashboard and use the information to optimize your site. Happy ghost chasing.

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