Google Analytics is a free data-gathering tool for your website to help you evaluate how your website is doing, both in terms of how much traffic it is bringing in and how good it is at keeping people on the site.
If you have the analytics code in your website, it will give you a wealth of information relating to what kind of traffic you’re getting and what they are doing on your site once they get there. Not all of the information you will get will be of much use to you, but this article will cover some of the key pieces of information that will help you evaluate your web presence.
The Analytics Dashboard
When you first login to your Google Analytics account, you’ll be brought to your “Dashboard” as shown below. There is a lot of useful information here and you can drill down to more specific information in each one of these categories.
How much traffic are you getting?
By looking at “Users,” you can see how many visitors have come to your website over the course of the selected period of time. In the case of this report, the time of the report is 30 days around May 2014 and shows 7,346 users. While the number of users will vary depending on your practice area(s) and the geographic scope of your practice, this particular website in San Francisco receives a very large quantity of visitors.
If you are in a narrow practice area in Contra Costa County, you may have 500 or 600 users and it may be a very good number. On the other hand, if you are a personal injury lawyer and you serve the entire Bay Area, your traffic levels should be much higher.
If you find that your number of users is very low, then it indicates that your website is not very visible. As your visibility increases, the number of your users will increase as well.
How are people responding to your website?
“Bounce Rate” is the percentage of how many people come to your website and leave before viewing a second page. In the case of the graphic above, the bounce rate for this website is 36 percent. This tells us that about 64 percent of the website’s visitors are drawn to visit at least one other page on the website.
Your website’s bounce rate is significant because it indicates how inviting people are finding your content. If your bounce rate is 80 percent, for example, then that is a clear indication that there are problems with your website. If your bounce rate is under 50 percent, generally speaking, then people are finding your website attractive.
By the same token, pages per session and average session duration are important measures of how much time people are spending reading your content. The higher the number, the better your content. In this graphic, this website has about three pages viewed per session and three minutes per page, which is terrific. If your pages per session is 1.2 and your average session duration is 45 seconds, for example, that is a strong indication that people are not finding your content very interesting.
Where is your traffic coming from?
While not viewable from your Dashboard, another extremely important piece of affirmation is where your traffic is coming from. By navigating to “Acquisition/All Traffic,” you can view traffic sources to give you an idea of how people are finding your website. Since Google has an overwhelmingly large share of the law-related search market, you want most of your traffic to be coming from Google (for most practice areas). If Google is not your primary traffic source, then your website is not visible enough in Google.
In this chart, from the same analytics account as above, you’ll see that 77 percent of this website’s traffic comes from Google.
You will want certain types of information at your fingertips without having to navigate to it every time you enter your account, and it is now possible to create custom dashboards whereby you can select the information you want to display when you login. For example, if you want to see your traffic sources at a glance, this is an element that you can add to save you from having to remember how to navigate to that data.
Creating a custom dashboard is beyond the scope of this article, but your website content manager should be able to assist you in setting one up containing the information that is most important to you.
There is a lot more information than has been described above that can be gathered about your law firm’s website from your Google Analytics account. For example, you can look at the bounce rate or average session duration for a particular page or see the path users take through your website. For what it’s worth, you can view your users’ geographical location, operating system, type of mobile device and more.
If you do not have Google Analytics installed in your website, or if you’re not sure whether you do or not, please talk to your website content manager to find out. Once it is in your website and you have gathered a month or two of data, login and see what it’s telling you. You’ll be surprised at the amount of information that Google is collecting about your website and its visitors.
Ken Matejka, J.D., LL.M, is a California-licensed attorney and President of LegalPPC, Inc., a San Francisco-based Internet marketing company for solo practitioners and small law firms. If you have questions about this article or his services, Ken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Spotlight