Got A Website? Use Analytics to Make It Work Harder

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Credit: Thinkstock Your website needs constant checking and updating to communicate well with current clients and attract new ones.

Credit: Thinkstock Your website needs constant checking and updating to communicate well with current clients and attract new ones.

Most equine businesses have a website. With the technology available today, anyone can have a simple presence on the Internet that potential customers can find that lets them know who you are, where you are, what you do and how to connect with you. And if you are serious about your business, you probably have a much better website with images, testimonials, hours of operation, special events, news and so on.

I’m always surprised by the number of people and businesses who have websites and have never looked at their Google analytics. This is a free service that gives you a tremendous amount of information about your website, visitors, traffic sources, and much, much more.

Google analytics has tutorials to help you make the most of their free services. (Editor's note: There is a website called lynda.com that has tutorials on many topics, including Google analytics.)

Whomever created your website has to set it up to be accessible to the bots/spiders sent out by Google to create their analytics. Then that person (or you) have to sign up to get an account with Google analytics with a user name and password. Again, it's all free.

Of course numbers don't mean anything without analysis, but Google analytics allows you to look at your website in a variety of ways that are based on date parameters that you set.

One basic number you should be looking at each month is how your traffic is growing (or not). If your website is a portal to your business or provides communications to your customers, then you want not just more people there, but the right people there. Having 1,000 people a month on your website won't really help you unless they are the right 1,000 people. (Okay, if you are using Google ads and getting some money with random advertising clicks, then you might just want traffic. But for most equine businesses, you want customers and potential customers on your website who are looking for your facilities and the services you offer.)

You can look at a date range (say, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015) and see how many visits, unique visitors, page views, etc. that you had. For those of you new to analytics, please note that visits means how many times your website was seen (how many times a page was loaded on a computer). Unique visitors means how many individual people came to your website. Each is important, as you want repeat visits by qualified people. But continuing to get unique visitor numbers to rise throughout the year should also be a goal, as that means different people are seeing your messages, and might connect with you for lessons, boarding, shows or other services you offer.

You also should look to see where your visitors are coming from, or referrals. This can help you to know if your Facebook, Twitter or newsletter are gaining you new visitors.

Knowing what pages on your website are the most popular will allow you to continually update your website in order to serve your visitors and attract new customers. If your photo gallery is your most popular spot, then continue to add images and make sure to share those on your social media to drive people back to your website. If your blog is the favorite page, update it regularly.

If most people land on your services page, make sure everything you offer is listed there, with updated times and availabilities. And ensure your contact information is on every page of your website, especially those most popular pages!

This is just a first step to Google analytics. It can do much more. If trying to decipher this information isn't intriguing to you, find someone in your barn who understands this and barter some lessons or services for this analytical help. You might be surprised what you learn from Google analytics that can help your business.