When optimizing your site for traffic, you will need some means to see where you are, track your progress (or your lack there of), and help identify mistakes.
Here are the core elements I recommend:
- Sign-up for a Google Analytics (GA) account, it’s free and it some if the best information you can get about visitor activity and how they got to your pages. If you do PPC marketing on AdWords and don’t have Google Analytics installed you can add it under the Analytics tab in AdWords. If you already have Google Analytics and your GA and AdWords accounts aren’t linked, be sure to select “link to existing” in your AdWords account so your Google CPC traffic will be properly tracked. If you made a mistake here and wound up with two GA accounts you can get Google to unwind the mistake, but it can take several carefully worded emails to get it fixed.
- Add the Google Analytics code to your pages. There are two tabs on the page where the code is supplied, be sure to use the newer GA code not the older Urchin (which is the default). I recommend that the code be at the bottom of the page, this way the tracking code won’t be triggered if a page is clicked by accident and the back button selected.
- If you offer file downloads to documents (such as pdfs) or other files, enter Google Analytics “on-click” code to the URLs so Google Analytics can track clicks to these files.
- Add IP filters to exclude your internal traffic from the reports. You don’t need to page hits from you, or your office staff inflating your traffic numbers.
- Add Goals. For sites that don’t have a shopping cart, it’s usually sufficient to enter only the final goal, not the entire series of events leading up to it.
- If you have AdWords, turn on track conversions and the “conversion code” to goal pages so you will know which AdWords campaigns, Ads, and keywords are resonating with your audience.
- If you don’t have an e-commerce site one of your Goals (and/or conversion pages) can be your Contact page. To make this viable you need to remove contact information (phone number, email, and street address) from everywhere except your Contact page. Note: If you have a business that sells services to a region or city you should have city and state information throughout site so that you rank for those terms (perhaps in your title tags).
- Enable Google Webmaster Tools. This is a fantastic free tool that will help you see the errors Google encountered when spidering your site. It will give you invaluable information on what phrases you content ranks on, going back for months. You’ll have to create a dummy page or insert a line of code in your pages. You should check this information often as it will identify missing pages (404 errors), mistyped links, and for sites that are dynamic, malformed URLs.
Now take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Alright, not the next day, but in a week or so this background information will give you the base you need to evaluate your site and what you need to do to move it up in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).