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Google Geeking our Website

on Mon, 11/30/2015 - 14:49

Does obsessing on analytics mean you're anal-retentive?

So we created a new website and made some changes (which we hope were improvements), was it worth the effort? Our expectations were pretty realistic since we know we're not offering Game of Thrones spoilers or anything like that, but it has taken time and effort, so it would be nice if it did something. Time to dive into Google Analytics and find out.

This was mostly written at the beginning of Dec and should have been published then, but then Christmas came along and things got crazy. We only activated analytics at the end of October, so one months worth of data is all we had. Even so, it's interesting what we find.  We got 127 unique visitors even though November is hardly peak cycling season. Quite the opposite, so that's not a bad start; if that's average then it would be around 1500 people who might not have otherwise known about us.

Of course "hits" can be pretty meaningless, so the other numbers are even more reassuring. The "bounce rate" of 38% means 60% of the hits thought the site was worth checking out. In fact the averages of 4 page views/visit and a mean session duration of almost 3 minutes are pretty high by internet standards. Sixty people per month may not be huge numbers, but those 60 felt they had found something that might interest them or offer them something they wanted. That is actually excellent.

Since so many of our site visitos seem to feel they may have found what they want it is not surprising then that the majority of visits are from people in the Ottawa Region, which is also as it should be. It doesn't help us or the site visitor if they are not local since we are a local organization with little to offer anyone else.

Curiously the majority of our visitors come to us directly. There are some referrals from other sites (thank you Re-cycles and others), but 2/3rds of the visits are "direct", ie they used a bookmark or typed our name straight into the URL field.

This suggests that they are our own volunteers, clients who know us, or members of the Ottawa cycling community. For the most part that is not a bad thing per se, but we also want new people finding us as well. Of course, as noted above, November is not a time when a lot of people are searching for a used bike or for bike repairs, so maybe it's just a seasonal thing. This is something we will have to watch and see if the numbers shift. Right now only about 5% of the traffic is coming from search engines (lines 5 & 9), and we definitely want to do better than that.


The site still does not have much in the way of content, so the analysis of what people are looking at is of limited value, but still tells us something. The most visited page is the current inventory, ie what bikes we have for sale right now, followed by pages saying how to find us. While there was some traffic to other pages, the `time on page`is longest for these two and only about 30 seconds fro everywhere else. That`s pretty much how we would expect it would be given what the site currently is.

Finally there is flow, how people move through the site, what they look at in what order. Here again, our site is still so basic that there is unlikely to be any surprises, and that is indeed how it is. People primarily arrive at the home page and then mostly go directly to either the inventory or the location information. While not startling this tells us that people do not find our site randomly and immediately leave. They were looking for us (home page), and having found us they then go to the information they wanted, either what bikes we have for sale or where to find us.

All in all it would seem that the website changes were worth doing and people are using the site the way we had hoped, at least for now. Another reason this was worth doing is that it gives us a baseline. As we make changes and improvements to the website we can look back at what and how our traffic has changed, and whether we achieved what we wanted to achieve. Of course whether we make any other changes or not it will be interesting to look again once the season is well underway, perhaps in May or June, and we probably will.