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What do Analytics Tell You about Your Site Structure?
While most webmasters and small business owners typically use analytics software to monitor traffic, it is also a powerful, albeit underutilized, tool for auditing and improving the structure of a website. If you can use analytics software to its full potential it will have a major impact on your site structure, your SEO, and how you construct all of your online marketing strategies moving forward.
Why is Site Structure so Important?
The structure of your website is one of the key areas that Google will look at when their search spiders crawl your website. They are looking to ensure that your site benefits from a logical layout, has a strong internal link architecture that improves the user experience, and is generally easy to navigate in terms of reference points and menu functions.
Out of all the key factors that combine to give us a picture of SEO, it is arguably this one that is discussed the least, particularly in terms of using analytics as a guide. Here are some pointers for using analytics software to audit and improve the structure of your website.
How Visitors Use Your Site
Go beyond just looking at the numbers and actually look at how visitors use your site and behave when they’re on it. Most software gives you options to look at the ‘visitor path’ taken when browsers land on your website. This is useful as it goes beyond simply seeing what your hit rates are and how successful certain landing pages are; you could get that information from anywhere. Instead, you can look at where people typically go from your homepage, and how many pages they visit. Putting this together with your knowledge of your conversion rate and revenues will give you a clear picture of how effective your website structure is at getting browsers to do what you want them to do.
What steps might you take at this point?
Is there a particular page that browsers always visit that isn’t a successful landing page? If so, you might want to identify key information on this page and integrate it into your homepage. Alternatively, you could put additional SEO efforts into this page so that it becomes a higher ranked landing page in its own right.
Improving Your Content
Do certain pages have a high bounce rate? If browsers are travelling through your site, it might be that the structure is fine, but the quality isn’t good enough to inspire a sale. Come up with a content marketing plan or hire a professional copywriter to improve the copy and make it more engaging for readers.
Streamline the Structure
While having internal links is great for SEO and for demonstrating your talents as much as possible to everyone who visits your site, having a site that is little more than a series of links isn’t going to get you anywhere. A central component of a strong structure is getting browsers to call to action or buying pages quickly. Yes, you’ll have your contact details and social media buttons at the top of every page, but what are your targeted pages that are going to inspire someone to hand their money to you for a product or service?
Identifying Broken Links
You can do this yourself, but human error can creep in from time to time, and who wouldn’t want to take advantage of using a machine to do the job instead? Broken links, especially internal ones, can do a lot of damage to your website both from an SEO perspective and with users. If a browser finds one broken link, it’s likely they’ll expect more and simply head elsewhere.
Which Analytics Software?
Many webmasters and small businesses stick with the general analytics platforms that are provided within their web-hosting package. While these are okay if you just want a basic overview, you ought to be using something like Google Analytics or AWStats, while hiring a professional SEO company to take care of your site structure and other elements of your marketing plan might also be useful given the overall range of services they can provide.
Using Analytics for a Better Site Structure
Don’t just use your analytics software to measure traffic and to see how many people are finding you through search. Of course, they are important metrics that we all have to measure, but if you’re not using the data available and thinking about it in terms of the structure of your site and about where you can make improvements, you’re not maximising its potential.