The turn of a new year is a great time to pause and take stock. This is as true for your online author platform as it is in anything else. In fact, your platform is a great place to apply this, because of the rich amount of data available to you.
How do you put that data to work? If you want to take your online platform to the next level in 2018, a website audit is the perfect place to start.
What’s a website audit?
A website audit takes stock of every piece of content on your website. Then you can use this information to assess your website’s performance and gain a deeper understanding of what’s working, what’s not, and how to proceed from there.
Where to start?
To get started, go to your website’s Google Analytics page. Or if you don’t have a Google Analytics account, go to the analytics page of your website’s back end.
(If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, what are you waiting for? It’s the most robust data you can get. Set it up now.)
Before you start, write out a few questions about what you would like to learn. This will help you determine what data you prioritize. Then, review your web pages and how the traffic to your website has fared. I like to start by looking for year over year growth, and month to month activity.
Anywhere you see a jump or dip in traffic, look closer to find out why. Did you do a promotion that day? Did you publish an especially effective blog post? Did you release a new book? Make note of these correlations.
Look closer at your pages and posts to see which ones have performed the best. What patterns can you see in the content that has done well? Did you release these posts at a certain time of day? Are they focused on a particular topic? Are they in a particular medium, like video?
Understanding these common threads can help you identify what your audience wants and how to make strategic decisions to do even better in the coming year.
What else should I look at?
There are a few other things to look at in addition to popular content:
- Low traffic pages – Some pages can be expected to get lower traffic than others. For example, a contact page will not get as much traffic as a home page or most blog posts. But do you see any important pages in your low traffic pages? If so, think about what you can do to change it. Don’t be afraid to get creative, such as restructuring how your website is organized.
- Conversions – Pay attention to important conversions on your website, such as subscribers to your email list and book purchases (if you sell directly). If you don’t have a conversions metric set up for this in Google Analytics, you can still calculate it fairly easily. Conversions = (total conversions) / (total visits to the web page)
- Social media – If you want to take your audit to the next level, apply this same assessment to your social media. Most networks offer some basic analytics these days. What posts have done the best? Do you see any commonalities that might indicate why?
Evolve With Your Audience
Website analytics can be overwhelming (especially if, like me, you’re not a numbers person). But you can be as simple or sophisticated in your audit as you’re comfortable with. Whatever information you glean is more than you had before, right?
Even if it is completely new to you, no time like the present to start learning. It’s important to audit your website every so often. What works for online users is shifting constantly. Studying your audience in this way can help you evolve with them.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is an author social media coach and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.