Do you have a nagging feeling that your website is just not performing? There are ways to find out how it’s going – at NewsBusiness we use a couple of tools to assess how a website is performing. Here are the main ones we use:
Question 1 – How many people are visiting?
First stop of course are your website’s statistics – which you can generally access through your web host’s control panel. These will normally give you an idea of eg:
- your unique visitors
- number of visits
- number of pages viewed
- most popular pages
- number of ‘hits’
- search words and phrases that led visitors to the site
- where visitors came from (eg typed url in directly, Google, other link)
There is often some confusion about ‘hits’. Each page that is viewed will normally generate multiple hits, and so you can’t take the number of hits as the number of visitors! A hit just records a file that is requested from the web server, and most web pages comprise a number of files, such as image files, stylesheet files and the html or php file for the page itself, so hits will always be a much higher figure than real visitors.
Unique visitors is a more helpful statistic, as each person (via their computer’s IP address) that visits the your site in the month is only counted once, even if they visit multiple times in that month. It’s comparable to number of ‘readers’ for print publications.
The Google Analytics system – if you install it on your site – gives you much more detailed stats than your website stats. A useful statistic is what’s called the ‘bounce rate’ for your site or for individual pages on the site. Bounce rate measures the proportion of visitors that visit one page of your site and then leave the site without clicking through to any other pages on your site. The higher this figure, the less likely it is they will complete the action you want them to take. In other words they haven’t found your website interesting enough to stick around and see more of it.
Question 2 – How many other websites link to my site?
There are a number of factors that determine where your website (or – technically – each page) appears in the search engine rankings in Google, but one of the key metrics Google measures to determine where a page should rank, is how many other web pages link to it. A link building strategy is outside the scope of this article, but it’s easy to find what links you already have. Go to www.yahoo.com.au and type into the search bar:
then choose ‘inlinks’ and then ‘except from this domain’ and ‘entire site’. You’ll then see a list of all sites that link in to your site. As a guide, if you have any less than 25 links, your site is not really getting any benefit from links in and its Google rank may be suffering as a result. You can do the same thing with a similar Google tool, the difference is that Google won’t give you all the sites linking in, just a selection. Yahoo gives you all of them.
Question 3 – How high up in Google does my site rank for my important keywords?
If you’re not number one in Google for your business name, you either have a very common name or something is seriously wrong!
The trouble is, most people searching for what you do on Google don’t know anything about you, let alone your name. So you need to rank highly for important keywords or key phrases relating to what you do. Working out what people will type in to Google when looking for your product or service is an art by itself.
Finding out your website ‘rank’ for your important keywords and phrases used to be a laborious process of manually checking position (I used to give up if I couldn’t find the site in the top ten pages – top 100 results). Now there is a great free tool that automates the process:
www.seobook.com – Rankchecker
Rankchecker is a free download from seobook – it lets you list any number of keywords or phrases and then find out where you list for each one on Google (global and Australian version), Yahoo (global and Australian) and Bing.
The great thing about this tool is it circumvents ‘personal results’, which is where Google skews the search results based on sites it knows you have visited before – Google will rank a site you’ve visited before higher than it would do for someone else. That’s why just using Google yourself to find out where your site ranks can often give you a ‘false positive’ of your ranking – it may appear to you that your site is ranking highly but no-one else will be seeing it there!
Question 4 – How ‘popular’ is my website?
Your stats or Google Analytics results will tell you how many visitors you are getting, but won’t tell you how you’re doing in relation to your competitors. This information can be pretty hard to come by, since your competitors are unlikely to share this with you, but there is a tool that can at least give you an idea. That tool is
Alexa is a US based service that ranks websites around the world by ‘popularity’. It’s a complex formula based largely on monitoring sites visited by millions of people who have installed the Alexa toolbar. Unsurprisingly the top sites in Australia are google.com.au, Facebook, google.com, YouTube and Yahoo.
To use the Alexa tool just type your URL into the search box and it will give you your website’s traffic rank globally and in Australia.
Alexa admit that the accuracy of their list declines the lower down the list you are, but it is a good general guide. As a very general rule, if you’re in the top million your site is reasonably popular, if it has ‘no rank’ then it has not been picked up at all by Alexa. Once your site has been picked up by Alexa, it can then give you an idea of whether your site has become more popular or less over the previous one month and three month periods – a green arrow is good, a red arrow bad.
David on Google+