Friday, September 18, 2009

How To Target Your Website Users Through Analytics

by Gary Klingsheim

"If you build it, they will come" is a fine quote from a fine movie about hope and dreams in, well, a field of dreams. But just because you make something - like, say, a company website - doesn't mean that a single person or an appreciative crowd will peruse every page of it and become your biggest fans and greatest repeat customers.

In today's fast and fickle world of electronic online communication, fighting for the attention and wallets of computer users is a game with stiff competition. There are likely many more people and companies who do what you do than you think - if not down the road, then somewhere else in the world where they can use overnight delivery to reach the same customers. But like any match or event, if the coach creates a solid game plan, then the team has a fighting chance of coming out ahead. It takes good, thorough analysis of what happened before and during the game to help make sure that the next one is won.

Focusing on the targets

In the game of website creation and marketing, companies and people who are represented online ultimately need to focus on their target users and potential customers. One of the best methods of doing this is through web analytics. Web analytics enable website creators and the site owners a way to see the daily trends of users, such as how long they looked around a website, which way they came to the site in the first place, what pages they looked at on a particular website and whether or not they left the site or clicked over to a related, yet different, site.

One thing that web analytics let us know is among the most important pieces of information, namely, where the web target users actually came from. Where did they enter? Through a common search engine like Yahoo or Google? Through a specialty clearinghouse site that lists current links related to your company? If you know the answer, you can easily redouble your forces and pump up your presence at those sites (and/or similar sites) to increase traffic.

Key keywords

Another thing that web analytics do is help to determine which keywords on your site have been hit most frequently. Say that common search engines have driven your visitors to you and turned them into paying customers. Many analytics applications can tell you what words were the magic ones. Often, customers take action immediately after they see certain words and later retain these for many site visits and searches to come. This kind of information will obviously help you to strengthen the presence of these terms on your site and that, in turn, will "organically" pop up online in search engines.

The statistics that are rendered through analytics help to show you what ideal position your site can be in. If you look at other sites for similar businesses that show up maybe ten pages back on Google, it is easy to look at feedback on those sites and exterior sites about what appeals to users and take that information to heart when trying to lead your field. When you couple that feedback with analytics about what names created traffic, what links were clicked on, how many people left the site, etc., then you are heading in the right direction towards exposure success.

Back to the blogs

With analytics, you can easily find the best-hit words used in your field that you can, in turn, use for the site and ancillary blogs that will help direct visitors back to you. It is best to use words that have a track record. Familiarity, in this case, breeds traffic and sales, not contempt. Analytical applications may be able to predict the number of clicks such individual words may have every 30 days. Those with larger numbers, of course, are the ones to think about incorporating into your site text.

Sometimes it is worth it to appeal to your unique audience, though, and not simply string together easy "high hits" text and phrases on your site. There are sophisticated audiences who like unique content and headings and expect it. Those same people may also want to read more than less. So even though your analytics say that viewers tune out after, say, an average of a few hundred words on your first few site pages, a crowd that looks at book excerpts that encourage them to buy books may actually read over a thousand words. You have to read between the lines, too, in some cases like this.

In the end, knowing your audience statistics - what viewers do and how they do it - will allow you to make the best site that you can for the people who love what you do. Just make sure that you understand how your audience relates to this information and you'll be able to keep your expanding customer family coming back for second and third rounds of the "main event," whatever it may be.

About the Author

Moonrise Productions is a full services San Francisco web development company. They offer complete design services, web application development, ecommerce development, social network hosting and more. With New York, San Diego, San Francisco and a Los Angeles presence no matter where you are, we've got people to serve you.