If you’re making new years resolutions, I hope one of them is to check your website analytics more often. They might seem like just numbers, but in reality, they are binoculars that let you watch visitors as they come to your website. They tell you what brings people to your website and how they respond to what they find there.

Reviewing your web analytics doesn’t have to be a long sojourn, just set a time in your schedule to scan them weekly, and a slightly longer visit monthly. This is especially easy to do in Google Analytics (there are other products out there, but Google Analytics is still my first choice.)

When you’re new to Google Analytics, or don’t look at your stats very often, it can be hard to remember which metrics you want to be checking on regularly. (Here’s one good summary). As you develop the habit of looking at your analytics, you’ll get to the point where you can look at the data, quickly absorb what matters, and move on.

Step One: Set aside a few minutes every week (add it to your schedule) to scan your web analytics.

Step Two: Configure your dashboard so that your weekly visit can zero in on your most important stats. Add widgets so that you can track the analytics you want to glance at every week. My dashboard for active client sites usually has:

  • Unique visitors
  • Pages per visit
  • Bounce rate
  • Top traffic sources
  • Top 10 Keywords
  • Top pages
  • Content drilldown (to show top sections)

It’s pretty easy to customize your Google Analytics Dashboard (the “home” tab on your Analytics dashboard). You can navigate to any of the metrics I just mentioned (or any other) and look at the top for the “Add to dashboard” button near the top of any report. Or you can create widgets from scratch once you are in your dashboard. You can always re-arrange your dashboard by dragging and dropping items.

Step Three: Set aside a monthly 30-minute block to drill further into the stats, look for trends, and come up with ideas for what to change.

Again, put it on your calendar. If you don’t have it scheduled, you won’t do it, and you’re probably missing opportunities to improve your website performance.

You can’t be an effective communicator unless you are paying attention to how people are reacting to your content. It’s never a good idea to tune out feedback. And that’s what Google Analytics gives you: direct feedback about what brings people to your website, and how web visitors respond to what they find there.

If you’re not an analytics user… why not? Google knows everything about you already…