Improve your website’s performance

You have a website with all the information about the products or service you offer. Yet nobody subscribes to your newsletter or training course and you sell few products. How do you get more out of your website? Get insight into the behaviour of your visitors with web analytics. With the right data, you will know exactly how to improve your website in a targeted and profitable way. Online marketing specialist Jelle Althuizen gives you concrete tips.

Free analytics tools such as Google Analytics or statistics from Wordpress or Strato, provide you with a wealth of information. "Entrepreneurs are often surprised at all the insights they can get from web analytics," says Jelle Althuizen, owner of Digital Layers. "Even with small adjustments to your website, you can achieve more turnover."

8 targeted analysis questions

"Prevent getting lost in all the data later and ask targeted analysis questions that you can get started with," Althuizen stresses. These 8 questions to analyse will help you find out what improvements your website needs.

1. Where are your visitors coming from?

In your analysis tool, you can see which channel visitors came to your website via. These channels are also known as 'traffic sources'. Examples of traffic sources are search engines, social media, your newsletter or a referral from other websites. With this information, you can do the following:

Put time and money into successful traffic sources

Google Analytics allows you to set specific goals for your website. For example, people requesting a price quotation. This is called conversion. "If you plot your goals against traffic sources, you can immediately see which channels give you the most success," Althuizen explains. "Have you spent a lot of money on an ad on Facebook, but see that it does not yield much? Then stop that ad and put money into marketing activities that do perform well."

According to Althuizen, many organisations are surprised by the conversion rate of their newsletter. "A wellness company I worked with wanted to clean up their newsletter e-mail list and remove 80% of the addresses. We intervened immediately, because traffic source analysis showed that more than half of their bookings came in through the newsletter. So deleting email addresses would have cost them a huge number of customers."

Approach relevant websites

When you see that there were suddenly a lot of visitors on a specific page of your website, check where those extra visitors came from. "Maybe a blogger wrote about your site or visitors are referred to your page via another website. This is called a referral. The sources of referrals give insight into the interests of your target audience. Suppose you have a diving school and you see many visitors coming in via websites of men's magazines. Then ask similar websites to refer to your website as well. Or ask them about advertising opportunities."

2. What are your best-visited pages and how do they rank?

The homepage of websites is often well visited, but also make a top 3 or top 5 of your other most visited pages. Analyse how these pages contribute to your goals. "Is a page well visited, but visitors do not perform any action on it, such as placing an order? In other words, is this page not generating conversions? Then improve the page to get more turnover.

For example, add a so-called call-to-action. A call-to-action is a link, prominent button or banner that entices your visitor to actively do something, such as buying your product, registering for your newsletter or signing up for your course. Getting in touch via a contact form can also be a goal.

With a call-to-action, be clear about the desired action. It is less clear to a visitor what happens if he clicks on 'click here' than on 'book now'. If you have a special offer, you can make the button more enticing by using 'save 10%' instead of 'buy now'.

3. What keywords are your visitors using in search engines?

Do you want to rank higher in search engine results and attract more potential customers to your website? Then start working on search engine optimisation (SEO).

Searches with and without your company name

A free tool that allows you to see which keywords are driving visitors to your site and how your website is performing, is Google Search Console. "With this tool, you can also differentiate between searches with and without your company name. If customers already know you, they will search Google for a product in combination with your name. But people also search for products you sell without already knowing you. For example, a florist from Alkmaar discovered that she often got traffic through local searches like 'Bloemetje Alkmaar'. She then applied this combination in her web texts, which brought her extra visitors and new customers."

Have you written or adapted some texts based on SEO? After a month, check whether you are indeed seeing an increase in visitors from search engines. You do this by looking at the traffic source 'organic traffic' in the tool. Take as the period for your measurement a month before you adapted the text to 1 or 2 months afterwards. This will show you if the changes lead to more visitors from search engines.

4. What keywords do visitors use on your site?

Also, check which search queries visitors enter on your website. "Internal searches are a valuable source of inspiration and information for your website. You can see which topics are popular among your visitors and what your target group needs. Do you often see the same keywords, e.g. 'lunchbox' or 'garden design', but you do not yet have information about them on your website? Then write a new page or blog about it. It might also give you ideas about expanding your products or services. Do you have information on your website that matches the keywords? Then find out if this information is easy to find. If necessary, adjust your menu structure."

5. What devices are your visitors using?

Analyse on which device people are viewing your website. Do most visitors view your website on their mobile phone, but most orders come from people using their laptop? Then maybe your order page is less user-friendly or visible for mobile phones. Or the fields where visitors enter their address details are not large enough, for example.

"One gym offered free trial classes, but they got few sign-ups for this via mobile users of their website," Althuizen gives as an example. "We saw that the call-to-action for registering for the trial class was at the very bottom of the page, but otherwise not visible anywhere. Mobile users generally do not scroll as far, so we recommended moving the trial lesson higher up the page and also including it clearly in the menu. That quickly generated more interested people."

6. Are your visitors engaged and captivated?

Do you mainly have an informative website or do you write blogs regularly? Then make sure your readers are engaged with your texts and read on. The more readers you have and the longer they stay on your website to read, the more attractive you are to advertisers.

Reader engagement is shown by the average time a visitor spends on a page. If that percentage is low, improve your texts to keep your readers captivated. For example, use stimulating headings or alternate with images and infographics. "In your text, always include links to other relevant pages on your website. Do this not only at the bottom but also higher up in the text. Visitors do not always scroll all the way down, but they might be more interested in a link to another page. That way they stay on your site longer."

7. Why do visitors leave my site?

Look at your website's statistics to see when customers drop out. Do you have a lot of web visitors on your product page, but do most visitors leave without making a purchase? Check whether your product information and information about the buying process are complete and correct. Lack of clarity about shipping costs (in Dutch), stock, size or colour can cause a customer to go to a competing website. Also, compare the product information on your website and that of your competitors. Complete any information that may be missing.

Consider accessibility

How accessible is your website? Over 2.5 million people in the Netherlands have a disability. If your website is not accessible, you will exclude a lot of potential new customers. A user-friendly website ensures more site visitors and more turnover. Moreover, you score better in Google when your website is well designed. You can check your accessibility with the digital self-scan (in Dutch). Your website is accessible when the texts are easy to understand, your navigation is clear, and the use of colour does not get in the way of readability. 

8. Why is an order not completed?

Do many visitors place an order but leave without completing it? Then it could be because of your check-out page (in Dutch). This is where visitors fill in their personal details and choose a shipping and payment method. Consider whether you need fewer details from your customer when making a purchase. Or add a postcode checker plugin. Web shop entrepreneur Nicolaas Koedam says: "Our customers only need to enter their postcode and house number. The plugin automatically fills in the address for them. Not only is this faster for the customer, we can be sure that the order will arrive at the correct address."

Get expert advise

It takes time and knowledge to do the above web analytics, but it is indispensable if you want to get more out of your website. Is there no one in your organisation with experience in analysing websites? Then try the Google Analytics Academy's online tutorials or watch explainer videos on YouTube. Several organisations offer training courses, such as Frankwatching, NCIO or ICM.

Are you short on time? Then hire a web analyst (temporarily) to help you install and set up Google Analytics or another analysis tool on a one-off basis. Ask the web analyst to create a dashboard for you. This is an overview of the statistics that are most relevant to you. With a dashboard, you can see at a glance how your website is performing.