One of the major keys to success for any website is to know how you’re doing. You need to know why is visiting your website, how they found it, what pages they looked at, etc. Most web hosts include free software for that – often Webalizer or Awstats. Check in the control panel for your website and you’ll probably find something in there.
Regardless, I strongly recommend that you check out Google Analytics. It’s another free perk from Google, and it does a great job of tracking stats for your site.
As you may have noticed from this blog, I am big into search engine optimization. I think it’s important for your church to rank well when people are using Google. By going into the “Marketer” section of Google Analytics and then into “Overall Keyword Conversion”, I can see every search phrase that led people to our site. I can see them grouped by year, by day, by week – whatever.
By looking at stats for this January (1st – 18th), I find that most of the queries are for some form of “Mt. Bethel” or “Mt. Bethel UMC”. Very normal. However, I notice that we’ve had 23 visitors arrive after searching for “must ministries”. Sure enough, if I go to Google and search for it, we come up fourth. Very cool. Now I just need to make sure our page that it lands on is in good shape, which it is.
Another interesting one is “church scrapbooking”. We just started a scrapbooking group a few months ago, and it’s nice to see that we already rank for this.
Of course, the golden queries are ones that might actually lead to visitors. While it’s great to rank well for “must ministries” and “church scrapbooking”, neither of those have any geographical phrases in them, so the odds aren’t very good that the user lives anywhere near us. They might say “oh, they have a nice scrapbooking program”, but if they live 1000 miles away it doesn’t help us much.
A good example of that is “marietta day care”. Two visits this month so far from people searching for that. This is good, because it’s someone that lives near us, is looking for a daycare, and found our daycare page. Google Analytics also tells me that they viewed an average of six pages each, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that they’re interested in our facility.
If I sort the results by “pages per visit” it gets kind of neat. We had a user that searched for “church gym weights, atlanta, ga”, found our site and then viewed 47 pages! Another one was a user that searched for “bible studies cobb county ga” and then viewed 21 pages. Another was for “grief support groups in marietta ga” that viewed 13 pages. There is a good chance that at least one of those three users visited our church.