Right here, right now – learning from visitor tracking


I’m taking a small amount of time out of a heavily scheduled day of creating websites, logos and drawing up online marketing plans to watch page view graphs and a top location map on my mac screen for one of our websites www.blackshed.co.uk

Sounds boring huh?

It would be if I wasn’t gaining an invaluable insight into what visitors do when they visit your website. [update - they saw a +1400% increase in visitors]

So, what’s it telling you?

First things first – a little background. The Black Shed (self-catering contemporary accommodation based on the Isle of Skye) featured in an online article in the Guardian Travel section. Visitor tracking on the site is provided by Google Analytics and we are able to use one of the beta tools to see visitor trends in real-time i.e. as it happens.

It gives us the following information:

Top Referrals – how did they arrive at the site – a link from another website or a search engine

Top keywords – if they came via a search engine such as Google, what keywords did the visitor use to find your listing.

Active Visitors – the number of active visitors: new or returning (been to the site before)

Pageviews – the number of page views per minute and per second.

Top Active Pages – what content the visitors are looking at

Top Locations – from which countries / cities are the visitors

It was a very interesting exercise. We were able to make some useful customer generalisations as we watched the next wave of Guardian website readers visit the site: geographically and the pages on the site they looked at and in what sequence.  Of course all of this information is available as a report for specific periods of time but there nothing like the excitement of real-time numbers refreshing on your screen akin to the countdown on an ebay auction is there!

What can we all learn from this?

1. Monitoring website visitor trends is important.

All business owners are busy but experience teaches us to make time to monitor the progress of our endeavours, whether it is the responses from traditional newspaper advertising or resources put into a social media campaign. We need to check what is working and what content is wrong. The tools are there, we just need to get using them.

2. The importance of referral links

The article featuring The Black Shed and a link to their website was a bonus, but over the months it is just one of many referring sites.  It’s important to build/encourage links to your site, especially non-reciprocal ones.

3. The importance of social media

Social media was the catalyst in all this, from building up initial referral sites, getting editorial awareness to publicising the appearance on the Guardian.

If you’re not doing these three basic things, get started now (shout if you need help) and you’ll start to reap the rewards sooner than you might think.

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