Every author must have an author website, and you will need to engage in online activities to drive traffic to it. This may be by engaging on social media, guest blogging on other sites, sending out newsletters, advertising, or other methods of driving people to your site. So, how do you measure your success in a) driving traffic to your website, and b) having visitors stay on your website, view your content, and hopefully purchase your books?
Getting this feedback is essential. You have to know if your website and promotional activities are working for you. It’s important to know what specifically is working well so you can do more of it, and what's not working so you can cut back on or improve upon it. The easiest and most effective way to track your website progress and discover what’s resonating with your visitors is connecting your site to Google Analytics with a little bit of tracking code (don't fear – it's really quite easy).
If you are new to Google Analytics here’s a little overview to help you get familiar with the data you can collect and review about your author website, and how to interpret it.
Number of Visits/Sessions
Your number of visits is the number of times people come to your site. If the same person comes back more than once, that’s tracked as two visits.
The number of unique, or distinct, people coming to your site. Each unique person is counted once. So if Mary visits your site ten times that's one unique user.
Page views are the number of pages on your site that were viewed. An increase in page views indicates that more content is being viewed across your author website. You can see where people are going on your site and how many pages they view per visit. Obviously, the more pages viewed per visit, the better. It also tells you that visitors are “sticking” – they are not just arriving at your homepage, taking a quick look, and leaving, which is referred to as bouncing and reflected in your bounce rate.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who see one page and then leave the site or “bounce” off the page. Aim for a low bounce rate. It means people are finding content they like enough to keep them on your site, and you are likely achieving reader engagement. If you have a very high bounce rate on your website pages you might want to reconsider the content or layout – does it immediately convey who you are and what you write? Is it compelling? If you are confident of both, then maybe the wrong type of visitor is coming to your site, in which case you might want to consider where you are promoting your site. Is it the right audience? And what your promotion is promising. Is your message not quite right for the page on your site you're directing interested visitors to? Are they not finding what your ad promised once they land on your site?
Average Time Spent on Your Site
This indicates how long someone stays on your site. This is a good number to track to see if it’s improving or declining. In conjunction with page views it gives you an idea of what people are doing on your site. For example, did they spend a few minutes viewing many pages, or did they spend five minutes on one page, maybe reading an excerpt or blog post?
Track the content that gets the most page views and best traffic to show your high-performing pages and then you know what works and you can do more of it.
Find out what social media sites send the most traffic to your website by going to the Traffic Sources section of Google Analytics. You will be able to see the websites that send traffic to your site. If your Facebook posts are driving traffic and your Twitter posts are not, you know where to focus. Or maybe it was your guest blog post on XYZ site. Whatever works, do more of it.
Traffic Source Keywords
Track the keywords people use via search engines to get to your site. This gives you insight into the words and phrases people are using to find your author website. You might want to consider using more of them throughout your site, especially on the homepage if possible. For example, a popular search term might be “western romance novels.” If that's your genre, make sure that phrase is on your homepage and sprinkled throughout your site.
Keyword search engine optimization (SEO) is important, but so is sounding like a human being. People expect authentic communication not marketing copy packed with keywords that are great for search engines but less ideal for human readers. Make sure your site isn’t so optimized for SEO it hardly reads well. Book websites are usually text heavy with lots of keywords and phrases, so it's more a matter of fine tuning. Consider the traffic source keywords, above, in crafting your SEO.
This is just a basic overview of Google Analytics. You can find more in-depth information on any of the individual topics by searching online or visiting Google Analytics to learn more. Understanding what's working and what you may have room to improve should be a vital part of your book marketing strategy. The more you understand your marketing's performance, the better you'll be able to perform.