As a website owner, you may be wondering about your own website statistics.
- How many people visit my site every month?
- How did they find my website? Was it through Facebook or other social platforms? Through Google search? Or a link from that guest post I did?
- Which are my most popular pages?
- How do my visitors view my site? Are they using their computers or mobile?
- How do I know if they’re interested in what I have to say?
Analytics is the answer to these mysteries.
We compiled data from 40 of our clients
We looked at the data from the last 30 days, September 2015 to October 2015.
We collected the data with Google Analytics – a free service that just requires a Google Account. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and will start returning results within hours.
If you’re using Wordpress, you can use this plugin to connect Google Analytics to your site.
Today, I’ll answer the questions posed above, and offer some tips so you can act on the data to improve your site.
Let’s unlock the door.
1. How many visitors does the average author website get per month?
The average author website gets 849 visits per month.
Naturally, this is an obvious first question. Don’t get too hung up on this ‘vanity metric’. Generally it’s better to focus on quality of visits over quantity.
Tip: Know where your visitors come from
To get more visits, break down where visitors come from, and what they’re coming for. To work out a strategy, let’s look at the next question.
2. Where do visitors come from?
Here are the averages from our study, along with an explanation of what each term means.
Traffic that comes from directly typing in your website address, or clicking on a link that’s not on a website, such as in an email.
People that click a link on another website and are sent to your website.
Visits that come from searches in search engines (Google, Bing, etc...)
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc..
Email newsletter mail outs. These differ from regular email because they contain click tracking in the email’s links. Regular emails that contain links count as direct traffic.
Tip: Leverage your successful channels. Do more of what you’re doing well.
Know where visitors are coming from, then leverage existing successful channels to produce more traffic. Here are some quick tips for each of the channels we looked at.
- Direct: Add your web address to all possible places. In your email signature, print handouts, business card, and posters. Promote your website at every opportunity.
- Referral: Publish high quality blog posts that people want to link to. Then, reach out to people to for back links. Add your web address when you comment on other blogs and in forums.
- Organic: Consistently publish blog posts. Each on a different topic in your subject area. This will increase the number of pages in search results. Plus, when people link to your posts, it sends signals to Google that your content is valuable. This in turn increases your ranking in search results and gets more organic traffic.
- Social: Post helpful and interesting social media updates with a link for the full content.
- Email: Subscribe visitors to your email list and notify them when you have something new.
3. Are my website’s visitors new or returning?
Average percentage of new visitors: 82%
Average percentage of returning visitors: 18%
Does it matter whether visitors are new or returning? It’s all traffic after all, right?
Your new vs. returning figures show how engaged your followers are over time.
Also, keep your resources in mind when trying to build website traffic.
Just like in a business – attracting new customers costs a company 5x more than keeping an existing customer.
Tip: Focus on getting your existing audience to return
Repeat visitors have the potential to become true fans. After all, their return means they’re interested! To encourage return visits:
- Create an email list (heard me say this before?) and engage the contacts on that list with compelling reasons to come back to your site. My stats are 62% new visitors, to 38% returning. How do I do it? My articles and email list.
- Encourage comments which need a return visit to continue the conversation. Comment on other blogs and forums to build relationships. These relationships first encourage a small group to comment on your blog. Once you have a comment culture established, it’s much easier for new or casual readers to join in.
- Use your social channels to drive traffic to your site. Remember your social account is the vehicle, not the destination. Plus, being social gives you the opportunity to stay top of mind.
4. What is the total duration of their visit?
The average time spent on site is 1 minute 44 seconds
Various factors can affect the length of time that visitors hang around. A few include your website’s design, the user experience, and of course your content.
Tip: Make sure you have a distinct visual design and amazing user experience
One thing that attracts and keeps visitors glued to your website is its design.
- Have a remarkable visual design that stands out. Consider matching your site’s design with your book cover design. Did you know that book designers and web designers can work together on an author website?
- Use multiple unique page layouts for each section of your site where possible. This way, when visitors move from page to page, the experience changes. It encourages exploration of your content rather than glazing over and mindless scrolling.
- Create a unique user visit that leaves people feeling like they’ve experienced something special. If you’ve published fiction, you’ll have no trouble creating imaginary settings and experiences. Use those skills to create a simple but engaging journey through your site.
5. How many pages do people view per visit?
Our study shows that on average, people view 2.2 pages per visit.
People are time poor. They visit a staggering number of new websites everyday, not to mention social media consumption. Unless they’re engaged they’ll leave.
You’ve spent all that time labouring over your website content, to find that visitors aren’t even reading it. Here’s how you can increase your pages per visit:
Tip #1: Clear main menu navigation
- Navigation should be like a good friend: there when you need them, but good enough to give you space.
- Consistency is important in ensuring visitors don’t get lost. Navigation should always be simple, unadorned, and direct. The aim here is to help visitors navigate effortlessly to what they’re looking for.
Tip #2: Simplify everything
Design is an art and a science – so this tip might be a bit contentious – but my philosophy is to:
- Make the user experience more linear.
- Make pages simple, clear and focused. Consider removing your website’s sidebar.
- Reduce the number of options the visitor has to choose from.
- Guide the person with a suggested next step – a call to action.
In his book, Barry Schwartz, argues that when presented with too many options, people get overwhelmed. They experience ‘analysis paralysis’. Take a look at Barry’s TED Talk: The Paradox of Choice.
6. What is the most popular type of page?
In order of popularity:
- Home page: 41%
- Books page: 28%
- Blog Post: 19%
- About Page: 12%
No real surprises here.
You already know how many visitors you get and how long they stay on your website. Knowing which pages people are looking for helps you optimise the site’s experience.
Tip: Use standardised names for your pages
- Use obvious and pre-established names for your key pages, so they’re easy to find in the main menu.
- Naming a page with your book’s title can be confusing to visitors that are new to your work. For example if my book was titled The Voices Above, what does that mean in the main menu to a new visitor? Create a page titled ‘Books’, then create a sub-page with your book’s title. The benefits are:
- Way finding is easier for new visitors.
- When you publish additional books, your site structure is in place.
- It creates a nice URL for search engines, e.g. ‘sarahauthor.com/books/the-voices-above
- Another place to use standardisation, is if you’ve given your blog a name, such as Whimsical Words or Dan’s Desk. A name is good for your blog’s identity, but in the main menu it’s less meaningful and can be confusing. My suggestion is to call it ‘Blog’ in the main menu, and add the name to the top of your blog page instead.
7. On what devices are visitors viewing my website?
- Desktop: 70%
- Tablet: 13%
- Mobile: 17%
Nowadays, there are many different ways to view and access a website.
Although I’ve separated them here, I generally think of mobile and tablet as a similar user experience.
Tip: Invest in a Mobile-Friendly ‘Responsive’ Design
Since everyone is now using smartphones and tablets to access the web, you can no longer ignore the need for a mobile-friendly website.
If you’re write for a YA or millennial audience, this is even more important.
Also, Google has started rewarding mobile-friendly sites with better rankings.
Try Google’s Mobile Friendly test on your website.
If it doesn’t pass, install this Wordpress plugin.
From this data, here are my top tips for increasing visits; getting people to stay longer; and have a better time.
- Create a distinct and remarkable experience, by using multiple unique layouts for each section of your site.
- Get your books designer and web designer to work together to create the ultimate brand experience.
- Know which of your marketing channels are bringing in the most visitors and leverage these channels.
- Work on improving low generating channels, this is often where you’ll get the best immediate improvement.
- Focus on increasing return traffic via an email list and your social media accounts.
- Make sure that your website contains all the essential pages mentioned above, with standardised page names.
- A mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. Invest in a mobile-friendly ‘responsive’ design.
Got questions about using Google Analytics to your advantage? Post them in the comments section below.
Need help setting it up? Happy to hear from you.
Are you running analytics on your site, care to share some stats?