Without this capability and know-how, it is near impossible for a business to grasp if its blog content is striking the right tone and reaching the right audience, whether the site itself is functioning as it is meant to, or if users are ending up on the page(s) that are required for the site to be considered effective.
Even in the case of e-commerce sites – where a business has a clear indictor in sales to monitor success – there are still a number of issues created by not monitoring website performance. Are users finding the page they want? Or, are they dropping off before they reach the desired page to make a purchase? In this case, using the right tools to monitor a site could result in changes that help to substantially improves sales.
Unsurprisingly, there are a host of options online that claim to be the best tool for tracking users, viewing user activity and generally monitoring how a website is performing. But, for us, there are three tools that should be above all of the others.
It shouldn’t be a huge shock that first up, we have Google Analytics. Without a doubt, and for good reason, the most widely used monitoring tool available. Google analytics is able to provide in-depth and instant data on how a website is performing, where it is underperforming and a range of other features.
Some of our favourite data channels provided by Google Analytics include:
- Audience – The platform allows website managers to see where users are from, how old they are, their gender and even what they are interested in more generally. For example, sports, computers, food and drink and travel. Information like this is invaluable in terms of knowing if the right audience for the business in question is visiting the site.
- Acquisition – Another really useful feature. Google Analytics allows a business to monitor where its web traffic is from. So, at the end of a month for example, a business can see the percentage of users that found the site via organic search, paid search (Google Ads), and social media – which it breaks own into channels. It also lists if a user found the website directly or if they were referred from another website.
- Page Views – It sounds simple, but knowing what pages are and aren’t popular on your website is a great way to shape both content creation and google ads campaigns. If particular pages are of interest, a business owner may want to add something extra – like a contact link to help drive sales or new business.
- Behaviour – This is one of our favourite elements. A behaviour flow chart that shows exactly what users do when they land on a page. This shows where a user lands, where they go next and how high the websites bounce rate is. Once a business knows the direction a user moves in, it can help understand the potential client base.
Another interesting aspect of Google Analytics is the ability to view real-time activity. So, for example, if a company has just put up a social media post to drive traffic to the website, the incoming users can be monitored. This helps the business know if what they are doing to drive traffic is effective.
Hotjar is a fantastic tool which focusses more on a users’ individual sessions on a website, and can be used very effectively in conjunction with Google Analytics.
The centrepiece of this tool is the ‘heatmap’ feature. This means that a web manager can see a heatmap of exactly where users have clicked on each page of a website, with red (or hot) areas showcasing where on a page is clicked the most – a great tool for monitoring the behaviour of users once they have reached a website. This is particularly good for homepages that contain multiple links.
Other highlights include video recording of users’ sessions, to see exactly what they are doing, form analysis, opinion polls (allowing the opportunity to ask users why they have or haven’t performed a particular action) and feedback options for users.
Google Search Console
Another tool from Google that we had to include is Google Search Console, and this one is all about a websites SEO.
Google Search Console is a free to use tool that gives an insight into what search terms users are using to find a website, whilst also helping to find and fix technical issues such as 404 errors and other page issues.
Anybody running or managing a website should seriously consider making use of this free tool, with other benefits including the ability to analyse website health, confirmation that google can crawl a site, a list of backlinks that exist to a website, the ability to analyse how mobile friendly each page on a website is, fixing indexing problems and loads more.
The Benefits of Using an Agency
The tools discussed above can be used to monitor websites by both experts and those who aren’t quite as savvy. However, when you have a professional agency such as WADEDIGITAL managing your website, we are accustomed to using these tools on a daily basis, we know the more obscure features and are well positioned to get the very best out of them.
In turn, the ability to properly monitor a website means being able to make the right changes to optimise a website – in terms of content, layout and SEO. So, if you feel we could help improve your digital presence, feel free to get in touch.