This is a guest post from one of our part-time interns – Zak Auerbach (@zaksoup)
“I’m already using Google Analytics” is what most people seem to say when asked if they’d like to try a new analytics solution for their site.
Google Analytics is great if you’re looking at trends, and seeing how your site has been doing in the past. It’s a fantastically advanced tool that does almost anything you could want a reporting tool to do. But it’s never up to date – it’s never instant. Google Analytics is great at finding out why things happened. Sometimes you need to know what’s happening right now.
GoSquared LiveStats is about deciding how to make changes now, how to improve your site to maximise the effects of what is currently happening, rather than what’s happened.
When you tweet about your latest blog post – you likely want to see the immediate response. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could see exactly who was on you site before and after you post on Twitter? Wouldn’t it be great to see if the people who saw your tweet actually stayed around on your site?
Observe flow of new & returning visitors.
Ever wish you could watch your visitors as they browse around your site? Keeping an eye on them as things happen makes support responses much easier when you can see exactly what they’ve been doing.
A user visiting a website browses through the siteÊ¼s pages, rather than staying on a single page or tab. As a user looks at your website they â€œflowâ€ around the site. Knowledge about flow of your website is an incredibly important tool for a content provider to have. If you know which links are being followed the most, and which get the least attention then you can very easily serve users the pages you want them to see. Knowing where on your site users are lets you know where to put your high-profile information.
A website is like a city, and it must be treated as such. In order to be profitable you must stay streamlined. If there are areas of your site that have extremely low traffic get rid of them. Make sure the flow of your site sends users to the areas that you want them to be. If you know where users are at this moment, then you can find out where theyÊ¼re going and where theyÊ¼ve been. Use that information to figure out how to map your site out.
What works? What doesn’t?
Real-time analytics can be incredibly powerful for planning your siteÊ¼s flow. Watch your users move through your site and keep track of where they go. Pages that attract more users have more potential to be profitable in the end.
Know which pages donÊ¼t attract or bore users. If a user has been on a page for an abnormally short time then perhaps they are not finding what they’re looking for fast enough. Visitors that never show more than a green light on any page are probably leaving pages too quickly to absorb most of the info on each page. These pages are cruft and might distract users from the rest of your site. Often times these pages are an unnecessary step in between a user and their goal. For every user that goes through them, one just leaves your site. Same for pages that have users for an abnormally long amount of time, although often if a visitor keeps a post open for a long time they may have left the tab open while making a coffee or eating some toast – they may return to use the info at a later point.
Real-time analytics can give you some incredibly detailed and powerful data. If you know what to look for. If you use that data successfully you can improve the flow of your site that will benefit not only you as a content provider, but your users as they will be able to navigate your site with increased ease.
Interact with your users.
LiveStats doesnÊ¼t just give you data, it gives you an in with your users. DonÊ¼t let that potential go to waste. Get in touch with your visitors. Because LiveStats shows you where and when (what time zone) your users visit your page from you can change your site to reflect your users. If you have a lot of Canadians visiting at certain times of the day, start offering deals for Canadian users at those times. Target your advertising as well. Interaction is just as important as the content on your site. If you want to reach your visitors you must act.
Create a rapport with your visitors and users, even if it isnÊ¼t actual communication. Make it known that you see where they are and what they want. When you choose to improve the site, people will be more likely to come back.
Respond to Traffic spikes.
Knowing where your users are coming from is great during a traffic spike. If you just got linked from TechCrunch you may want to update your article to appeal more to technically minded visitors. DonÊ¼t wait until the spike has passed, do it immediately. Spikes are a blessing and a curse. If your site is experiencing increased traffic you will want to know exactly where these users are coming from and where they are ending up. Use this info to make your site ready for the traffic.
When instant gratification is everything, you canÊ¼t ignore your users. Make sure that you are paying attention to the data you are getting from your analytics and that you are using it to change your site for the better. The results will be astonishing if you can harness the power of real-time analytics to improve the interaction visitors have with your site, and you have with your visitors.