Website analytics offer immense insight to help you fine tune your web presence.
More firms are beginning to understand the necessity of having a website. In an “online” world, the web is where people go first to research products and services. In essence, it has become the new “front door” to business. And the same is true for accounting firms.
The profession has made significant strides. Today, more firms have a web presence than ever before. However, just having a website isn’t enough. You must also understand how your site is performing in order to consistently improve your “front door” and make it more inviting for visitors to not only enter…but to stay.
Web analytics are still a fairly new concept in the profession, so we compiled the following questions and answers to help you. Hugh Duffy, noted web analytic and SEO guru at Build Your Firm, offers helpful, seasoned advice.
Question: What are website analytics? And why should firms care?
Answer: Website analytics provide you with diagnostic feedback about how many people are visiting your website, where they are going, where they came from, how much time they are spending on your site, and other visitor behavior such as:
- How many pages visited while on your site
- What page were visited first or from which page they exited
- Where they came from— another website, search engine, organic listing in search engine results page, pay per click ad, or where in the country or outside the US
- What keywords were typed in (if coming from a search engine)
- What types of browsers used—IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome
This diagnostic information can help you diagnose problems and better understand the path users take while on your website. Ultimately, this type of information enables you to improve a visitor’s overall website experience.
Question: What is a common misperception that most accountants have about their website?
Answer: Most accountants believe that everyone comes to their website at the home page. Website analytics indicate, however, that search engines and advertising drive website visitors to a wide variety of pages. In other words, they may come in the front door, side door, or back door. For example, search engines may drive most traffic to the About Us page, which is not typically the most appealing page and may result in a visitor hitting the back button and proceeding to the next accounting website. This means websites need to be designed so that a user can easily get to the information they need in one to two simple clicks…so they don’t quickly exit.
Question: What website analytics tools should firms consider?
Answer: The best fit for small accounting firms is Google Analytics. It’s a powerful and free tool, and most accounting website providers should be able to support its installation. However, it’s important to note that the analysis work itself has to be regularly performed by the firm. Appointing a dedicated staff member to the task is recommended. Google Analytics is by far the industry leader and it is more than adequate for a firm’s needs. To set up a Google Analytics account, simply go to google.com/analytics.
There are fee-based analytics programs on the market; however, most firms may not wish to invest the time and money required to adequately support them. For those interested, a few fee-based tools include Omniture to Webtrends.