If you’re new to web marketing then you may not be aware of the different options you have for measuring the effectiveness of your web site. There are many different tools out there that measure everything from the pages that people visit all the way down to what sections of a page visitors are focusing on.
Each of these four tools provides different insight into what is happening on your web site. The first two tools should be part of every site. For those looking for deeper information then I highly recommend integrating heat map and A/B testing tools into your site.
Analytics software tells you how many visitors come to your site, what pages they are viewing, and where are they going. You can view the paths that people follow through your site, see which pages are causing your visitors to leave, and measure the performance of your campaigns. If you have a web site, you need to have a web analytics tool setup.
Google Analytics is a great free option and one of the best web analytics tools on the market. Setting up an account is simple and adding the necessary code to your site requires little to no coding knowledge depending on how your pages are built.
Adding Google Webmaster Tools will give you insight into how Google views your site. With Webmaster Tools you can diagnose problems on your site to ensure your pages are being crawled and that there are no errors with any of your pages. Webmaster Tools also shows you which search queries your site is showing for and how many click throughs your search results receive. Google allows you to optimize what is being crawled by submitting a site map listing. This is something every site owner should do to ensure all of their pages are being crawled. To get started visit Google Webmaster Central.
Heat map software tells you where a visitors attention is focused on a page. It measures the mouse movement of individuals visiting your site. The combined mouse movements from as little as 50 visits can give an amazing amount of insight into how a page is performing. Heat maps that rely on mouse movement aren’t as accurate as eye tracking but it can give a close approximation of the most important areas of a page.
There are several heat map tools available. Two of my favorite are:
Crazy Egg: For as little as $9 per month, Crazy Egg allows you to measure up to 10 pages on your site for up to 10,000 visits. Crazy Egg was the first heat map tool that I used and have found it to be very effective.
ClickTale: Depending on the type of site that you run and the amount of data you want, you will want to give ClickTale a try. ClickTale is similar to Crazy Egg but where they differ is that ClickTale allows you to view individual visitor sessions. You can go back to a recorded visit and see exactly how individual users are browsing your site. This can be a very effective learning process but it can also be overkill for the average person managing a web site. ClickTale offers a free plan which records up to 400 page views per month.
Testing applications allow you to setup A/B tests on your site to measure how changes on a page impact visitor actions. Testing is a more advanced practice but it’s one that can have significant results especially if you run an eCommerce site or a site where form completion is important.
Some example of test that you could run:
- Long form vs. Short Form
- Text Ad vs. Image Ad
- Different link text to see what gets more click-throughs
- Positioning of calls-to-action on a page
To get started, I recommend setting up Google Content Experiments. If you have a Google Analytics account in place then there is no additional code setup required. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, then you will need to set one up.