Analytics data is great at showing trends in your site's visitors. These trends may be useful for making certain decisions about your site but they're not necessarily the most important focus of your campaign.
Natural versus paid visitors: Be sure, when using analytics, that you're aware of whether you're viewing your natural or paid visitors. If you're not running pay-per-click advertising campaign then this is a moot point. If you know your conversion rate for paid traffic can be critical for the profitability of your campaign. Pay careful attention in Google Analytics because the default setting is to lump all traffic together into one report.
Exit pages: The last page that someone on your site sees before they leave. If it's not the 'Thank you for ordering' page then you should pay attention. If you're seeing a lot of people leaving on one particular page, chances are good that there is something wrong with it. Take a look. How can you make it better and more attractive? Do people need more options or less? How about an exit survey?
Bounce rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of people that enter your site, view the one page they came in on, and then leave. If you wrote a particularly interesting article, that's getting a lot of links, then it may just be that people are coming to read the article and then leaving. This is especially true for how-to articles like 'How to tie a necktie' or 'How to write a testimonial'.
People are there to find out something, and then they leave. Keep them around by offering related content. 'Two more ways to tie a necktie' might get them to stick around and read a bit more if that's your goal. Bounce rate might also be an indicator that your site is targeting the wrong crowd. Maybe you sell windows but people are searching for Microsoft Windows software. It's important to understand what terms are great and which ones are over-used for you to target.
Hits are just plain bad. You shouldn't use them because they are greatly misunderstood and can be so misleading. This is one of the easiest numbers to fudge simply add more graphics to your site's banner and your hits will move up. If you're performance-tuning your server then this might be a good metric but from a marketing standpoint, it just doesn't help. Fortunately, this stat has just about gone the way of the dodo. But, you'll still occasionally run into someone who will insist that hits is a good measure of the site. Run from that person, quickly!
Let's say you sell widgets. The metrics you're measuring for each keyword are Rank in Google, Orders, Revenue, Profit and Profit Per Order.. For the sake of simplicity, we'll say that you only sell one product: the widget.
You may end up with a chart similar to the following table:
From the look of things, you should focus your efforts on increasing your ranking for easy widgets! If you're on the bottom of page 1 of Google, imagine how much you could sell if you were at the top.
How would cost per conversion affect profit per order? Cost per conversion includes the amount of time on the phone that you spend with customers helping them make a purchasing decision as well as the cost of the 800# and product returns.
Now, with that single data point, you see that it's probably in your best interest to put your SEO resources into the terms widget and fast widget. With their far lower cost per conversion, these terms are far more profitable per order.
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