I was asked by a therapist where she can find her website traffic. So here is the long, complex, simplified, confusing answer. Ready?
We need to break you down by type. I’ll start with those who can edit their own websites then move on to those who have a webmaster.
If you can edit your own website, you will want to go to the main area where you log in. Start poking around to see if they provide anything already. Ideally they’ve got a program installed that automatically tracks your statistics. You may find an “on/off” switch that lets you START tracking things.
Sometimes all you can see is total number of page views. Or visitors. Or not a whole lot else. In that case you will want to get a piece of code put at the bottom of every website page. HOPEFULLY you have access do the code behind the scenes, but if not, ask customer service.
The best FREE source of getting website traffic is Google Analytics. You have to create an account with them and then get your personalized pieces of coding. Just an FYI, Therapy Sites makes it easy once you set up an account, to “plop” the code into one area and they make sure the code is on every page of your website. I’m sure some other hosting companies do the same thing.
If you do not have access to editing your own website, this means you have a webmaster, friend, or family member who is helping you out. Hopefully they’re still around and not annoyed any time you want an update! You will also have to set up an account with Google Analytics and ask them to put the special code on your website – on every single page.
Then, the game is to wait! From the moment you put the code on your website, it will start to track anyone who comes to your website. If you have a low traffic website that means you’ll want to wait at least a month, if not longer, to even log back in and see what’s up. A lot of business decisions can be made, a lot of how to rearrange your website can be made, and some VERY interesting learnings can be made from your website traffic.
I talk about website traffic and business decisions at length in the Website Content CD. But one example is a page I think is very useful (Why Do Parents Care?) on The First Dance website gets a much lower readership than other pages. I need to figure out where it’s linked from and potentially move it to my homepage or somewhere else. I also decided to Tweet the article and got about 20 more people to read the page in one day. The idea is… more people read it, find it interesting or insightful, share it, or, at the very least, get a slightly better sense that we’re not “just another” wedding advice website. Or maybe they never did visit my website even while following me on Twitter for a year, so this is their first visit. They get to look around. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but I had someone by 10 copies of our book from Amazon sometime after I Tweeted that article. And that may have because we know of someone (the matriarch) who ordered 25 copies for her entire family to read, so while wedding planning, they all knew the emotional and family drama that often unfolds (and DID unfold for her family.) I mention that 25 copy story on my website as a way to inspire people and get them to think about how and why they may want to buy our book.
I hope I haven’t lost you! It’s a wild crazy world online…lots of twists and turns, web surfers who start in one place and end up in an entirely different place 5 minutes later. This is the fun side of the internet and the reason I love this stuff. And hey, my random article, on Twitter, may have linked someone to getting premarital counseling who wouldn’t have otherwise…because he or she would have seen we have tons of counselors all over the nation. That makes the article worth it.