When it comes to performance race cars, their obvious power shows around each turn and thrust of the accelerator. But the true strength to that beast is under the hood.
So, to truly master your mission, every single nut and bolt, every gear and gasket, every inch and millimeter, are all finely tuned for maximum performance.
Ultimately, analytics are the tools that focus your machine (or website) on its mission; to be faster than the others. But that’s no one tool that does everything. Have you ever seen a mechanic’s tool box? Everything in there has its own job, but they all have the same goal.
Are hot rods a good analogy for analytics? Well, I had to spice it up a bit because the true nature of analytics can be much less sexy than a revving engine. But essentially, yeah, the things about accuracy, consistency and power are pretty much spot on, if you want to win.
Analytics are the calibration tools in such a high-octane scenario. Some tools are created for before the race to make sure everything fits. And, there are others used during the race to see how it’s all holding together. Then, after the checkered flag is waved, there are tools to improve performance, always preparing for the next race.
Analytics is the same. And, it starts in the very beginning. If done properly, that previous sentence is quite literal. Research comes before development for a reason. So, before any fine tuning on a website should begin, get a read of the land first and see where you stand with the competition.
Threats and Weaknesses
You can tackle baseline readings where your webpage is strong and where it’s weakest, just like you can with your competitors. You can research the words people use when searching for whatever it is you sell, or rent, or create or whatever.
You can see trends that affect your industry whatever it is; ballet to boxing. You can see the things that make them strong, especially in the eyes of a search engine. That includes their keyword rankings, number of visitors to their site, their web page authority, and so on.
Yes, ideally all of these things can be researched before your own web page is created. In truth though, this rarely happens. Small business owners often create websites quickly, without a plan, much less having researched available data.
So, even though many webpages are created without much forethought, the starting points of analytics are still the same. If you looked at your website’s analytics for the first time today, ever, the same information is just as critical. Knowing your keywords, competitors’ strengths and backlink opportunities (just to name a few) will help you make your next move.
Strengths and opportunities
Gathering background information before web page development is important. It gives you a firm foundation. Because if, say, your website doesn’t use the right words in the right places, you get less web traffic (if any), hence less sales/renters/readers/viewers.
Your presence online should be focused on the facts, not fantasy. Facts are measurable. Fantasy, well… fantasy is fickle and hard to read (figuratively of course).
Facts include keyword rankings, audience demographics, users of your site, their behavior while visiting, how they acquire things and how they found your site.
Of course having fantasy on your site isn’t bad. That is, if we’re talking about fantastic content. This goes beyond the purposes of this blog, but suffice it to say that great content is one of the most valuable metrics in which to attain high marks.
There’s a trick to search engine optimization (SEO), though. And, it’s best illustrated by ‘content’ being measurable: there’s no single metric. Oh, and there’s no tricks anymore either.
And that is your impossible task; to fortify your website on the back end, create killer content to slay the dull dragon, and grab the gold ring in the top three of the Google tower, in the land of Castle Internet.
Never a dull moment
Yes, I know I started in the racetrack and have wound up in roleplaying. But, both scenarios are apt allegories to the mission of analytics. The best part about tools that let you measure all aspects of your ship (wow, a third metaphor?), is that there is always something to see.
Seriously. You can see where you are at before you set sail, then launch towards the horizon with confidence that the maps are accurate, crew skilled, plan clear and your vessel is sound.
And, with analytics, you can even watch in real time, seeing how many users are visiting, where they are from, what pages they are looking at and more. It’s a bit like being on the high seas searching for treasure.
Analytics; the all-seeing eye
Remember when I talked about fantasy? Yes, I am going to finally invoke Sauron from the Lord of the Rings stories. That would be Google. And, its Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) collectively create the impenetrable fortress gate. But, it’s analytics that ties it all together as the all-seeing eye.
Yes, you too can master your destiny! Arm yourself with analytics and experience omniscient power like never before! Which role will you choose? Ranger (designer), sorcerer (developer) or elf (contentor)?
Risk everything to defeat the dragons that dog you! Capture your space in the digital realm and become a Master of the Message!
Analytics is an important tool. There is all manner of nit-picky nomenclature we could discuss; bounce rate, marketing funnels, conversions, retention, referrals, backlinks, audience, active users, conversions and so on. But, there are rules here. This is not ‘Nam.
And, as you are reading through a ‘what is analytics’ article, keeping it a light picture painted with broad strokes is probably the best use of our time together. You’re more apt to remember the lessons of happy little clouds than the gathering maelstrom of metrics.
Besides, if you want a technical overview of Google Analytics, there are many online. Some are made by the Sauron of software itself, such as the resources found at Google Analytics Academy (more like SERPwarts School of Bitcraft and Connectivity, but that’s another blog!).
You’re smart. And analytics doesn’t need a degree either. Mainly, it just needs time to get measurements, and for you to get used to the tools in the analytics toolbox.
Analytics to marketers
No matter what industry or work you do,analytics can assist your growth online. It doesn’t matter if you’re an eComm retailer or a nonprofit organization. Every website has a message (or should).
Analytics is a great way to measure the effectiveness of specific campaigns too. Detailing how people access information, use the web to find you, and what it is that converts them to a customer is detailed in many metrics.
Learn to look at the front and back end of the internet as one whole. The tech work and the information on the front end both have the same goal, to spread the message and grow the business. Analytics are the tools that fine tune the engine of commerce and community.