To the savvy website owner, tracking a site and conversions may seem like a basic and obvious thing to do. After all, it is imperative when looking at ways to improve a website’s performance, that you understand how users interact with a site’s pages and its content. This being said, it still amazes me how many website’s we look at that lack even basic conversion tracking through Google Analytics, or an Analytics tracking code at all in some cases.
The following article will discuss the essential tracking tools in a website marketer’s arsenal, which must be implemented before starting any new digital marketing campaign, whether it be SEO, Google Ads or Social Media.
This is one of the most basic forms of website tracking and is something every website should have installed. The data offered by Analytics if used correctly, can provide a plethora of information about the way in which users interact with a site. This data includes but is not limited to, the number of new users to visit a site, the total number of users to visit a site, the average time spent on a site and the average number of pages visited, all within period of time which you define.
Conversions goals can and should be setup within Google Analytics to track any valuable actions which take place. These can include things like contact form submissions, click to calls and email clicks. For ecommerce website’s, setting up purchase tracking is also something which can and should be done through Google Analytics to maximise the conversion data at your disposal.
Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console acts as a portal between Google and a website owner. If a website receives a manual action (penalty) from Google, a message will be sent through the site’s Google Search Console account to notify you of this. Search Console also provides helpful data to ensure that a website is performing as well as possible from a technical perspective and is error free. If 404 or other error pages appear on a site over time, Search Console will pick these up.
Search Console also has another benefit, back in 2010 Google stopped displaying what keywords users who visit a site had used for Google organic search traffic within Analytics. Search Console still tracks and displays what keywords have led to organic visitors coming to a website, thus making it an essential component of an effective SEO campaign. Being able to see how visitors from Google organic search have found a site allows for a clearer understanding of an SEO strategies development and gives the ability to focus on areas which are delivering new traffic and potential customers.
Google Tag Manager
Once installed on a site, Tag Manager allows you to remove all your other tracking codes or pixels (such as Analytics and Facebook), moving them into Tag Manager itself. There are several reasons why going the extra mile and setting up Tag Manager as opposed to a more traditional tracking setup benefits a site.
Firstly, website load speed is an important factor not only for user experience but is also a ranking factor nowadays in Google’s Algorithm. Having multiple tracking codes embedded in every page of a site slows down a page’s load speed. As every platform you advertise on generally requires their own tracking to be installed, you can very quickly end up with several different codes installed and drastically slowing a site down. Tag Manager allows you to consolidate these codes within its system, therefore meaning that the only code which needs to be directly installed on the site is the Tag Manager codes itself. Once this is installed correctly, all other tracking codes work through there.
Another benefit is that Tag Manager allows for much easier tracking of key conversion metrics. Where traditionally further HTML code would need to be embedded within a site to track valuable actions through say Google Analytics. By installing Tag Manager and then running your Analytics account through that, it negates the need to embed further code into the site (extra code will slow a site down further). This is because Tag Manager allows you to setup tracking actions within its system, which can then be imported across to other platforms, like Analytics, a Google Ads account, or Facebook Business Manager.
Ensuring that your tracking is consolidated, and cleanly setup is a key component in today’s website marketing world, Google Tag Manager plays a big role in making this possible.
Hotjar – Another Level of Site Analysis
If you are prepping to redesign a website which is already operating and generating revenue for a business, it is imperative that the new layout is well thought out and focused towards making a user’s journey as clean and simple as possible. By installing Hotjar on your current site, you can record videos of users, following their journey around the sites page structure. This means that you can then assess if there are any areas which need to be kept, because they work well and should therefore not change drastically or should be improved within a new design. Hotjar also generates heat maps of each page of a site, showing which areas of a page receive the most attention, whether that be on desktop through mouse interaction, or mobile through screen taps.
Hotjar can also be a helpful tracking tool to use if a website is receiving traffic from the various platforms which it is being advertised through, but it is not converting. Using the videos which Hotjar records as well as the heatmaps which it generates will give you a much more detailed perspective of how people are interacting with a site, than using traditional site tracking such as Google Analytics alone.
From our perspective, all websites should have a minimum of Google Analytics, Search Console and Tag Manager installed, to effectively track users coming to a site and the valuable actions which they make. If you are running campaigns through platforms like Google Ads or Facebook, you will be able to sync and consolidate your website tracking across each platform, providing everything is setup correctly.
Over and above standard website tracking, there are tools such as Hotjar which can be used to boost the information which you have about a site when this is needed.
Any digital marketing agency which you choose to engage to assist in promoting your site, should ensure that setting up tracking for your website and its conversions is the first thing they do, before starting any marketing campaigns. If it is not, this should serve as a red flag, as they will not be able to properly report on a campaign’s performance due to a lack of data, or optimise your accounts effectively, thus meaning wasted budget.