“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
It’s true. If you want your business to grow (and I assume you do, which would explain you being here) then you need to know what’s actually moving the needle in your biz, and what’s just a big ol’ waste of your time!
Turns out, the only way to know this is to measure it!
(More on which stats you should be measuring later in this post).
The stats you track will pretty much be the same no matter which software you use, so which software should you use? Great question!
This is Squarespace’s solution to learning all about how your people are interacting with your website. This handy little dashboard is built right in to the platform, so you don’t have to leave your site to see just how well it’s been performing.
The great thing about having Analytics built right in to your site building platform is that your stats are available from the minute your site goes live to the world.
But heads up! Not every plan comes with complete Squarespace Analytics, so you’ll need to read the fine print of what’s really included in your plan.
For more deets on that, check out: A guide to Squarespace plans & premium features.
While Google Analytics may not be native to Squarespace, they’ve made it incredibly easy to integrate the two platforms and get them talking!
Google is pretty smart, but it won’t have access to anything that went down on your site before their software was installed.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you’ll ever need their services, it’s worth taking the time to set it up anyway, so it can start quietly collecting all that data in the background until that day you decide you need it.
Oh, and it’s free to sign up!
The data you get with Google Analytic’s basic free tier should be more than enough for most small businesses to track and improve their site. (I’m pretty into the analytics of my site, but even I years into my business I am yet to find a need to upgrade my Google Analytics.)
You know me. I’m a Squarespace fan forever and ever. Amen!
So why would I reach for a third party software when Squarespace offers a similar feature built right in to my site?
Google Analytics is known as the industry standard for collecting data about your site and it’s visitors no matter which platform your site is built on!
It offers a muchhh more in-depth look at exactly who people are, what they tend to get up to on the internet, and the path they are taking before, during, and after they visit your site.
If you’ve ever searched something, then seen an ad for that exact thing the next day, you’ll know just how creepy and all-knowing Google can be! So why not use that to your business’s advantage!?
Google’s software can track things like the amount of time a visitor spends on your site, how many pages they visit while they are there, whether they are a new or returning visitor, as well your site’s bounce rate.
You’ll also be able to learn about your visitor’s demographics like age and gender, and where in the world they are coming to you from (shout-out to the one guy in Mozambique reading my blog! )
Wanna spy on who’s currently visiting your site this very minute? Google Analytics lets you do that with their Realtime reports!
It can all feel a bit nosey, but these are honestly useful bits of info to have when it comes to decision making in your business like:
Creating in-demand free content and paid offerings (read: not wasting time on things your audience isn’t asking for)
Understanding which pages and areas of your site seem to be serving your business and which simply a distraction from what you do/offer (say it with me now… “distractions kill conversion!”)
What changes you need to be making to your site to attract the people you actually want to be working with & would genuinely be interested in your offerings based on past online behaviors
How to better market your biz on and off your site
Oh, and there’s even whisperings that having Google Analytics installed can improve your site ranking. Shhhhhhh…
But don’t quote me on this one. Google is pretty tight-lipped about things like this, as they don’t want people loopholing the system without ever having to create legitimately useful websites or content.
So there’s that, and the fact that Google analytics is free (whereas it may take upgrading your Squarespace account to get access to what you really want to know).
In the end, the most helpful stats are going to be the ones that are easiest for you to understand and consistently track.
Again, you don’t even have to use Google Analytics if their user interface feels space-shuttle-dashboard-level confusing to you, but it’s legit sooo easy to install that you may as well go ahead and do it now so there’s no chance of you kicking yourself down the road.
Whichever you use (heck, use both!) just make sure you are clearly comparing the same measurements from the same consistent source.
Each software has it’s own special type of math for accounting for all those for clicks and visits, so rounding it all up in the same way each time will make it easier for you to clearly spot any trends happening.
Ok, so this is a pretty obvious step (but a necessary one!)
You’ll need an actual google or gmail account before Google Analytics will let you get started with your free account, FYI. So if you don’t have one of those, you best go get one here.
Got your Google account? Fab! Now use it to sign up for a free Google Analytics account here.
Pro-tip: Squarespace automatically took care of making sure your website was secure, so when you fill in your new Google Analytics account details, make sure to select https:// from the website URL drop down instead of http:/.
Ready to follow along?
From your Google Analytics account, head to admin (bottom left gear icon) > tracking info > tracking code.
You now have two options: using Google Analytic’s Tracking ID, or the Tracking Code.
I personally use the Tracking ID, since code can get a bit tricky and it’s easy to lose track of where all you’ve included it on your site. Plus, Squarespace is already set up to seamlessly integrate with the Google Analytics through this simple ID.
From your Squarespace’s home panel:
click settings > advanced > external API keys
paste that ID in the Google Analytics Account Number field
That’s it! You’re officially a member of the Google Analytics club!
Wondering what you should track? Here’s a few pointers to get you started!
As in, actually write it down somewhere.
Better yet, create yourself a fancy spreadsheet so that you can easily input info and track trends! It takes a minute to set up, but once it’s ready, you can consider this your business dashboard for success!
You have a million things going on in a day, and the last thing you are going to remember (or feel like doing) is to read over a bunch of reports.
Set a recurring task or timer to remind yourself to track these stats so you can get real data from it and stop spinning your wheels with your website.
Did you create a new freebie? Include a new CTA on your home page? Make a note of it in your spreadsheet so you know exactly what caused any spikes or dips in numbers that week.
Since you’ve already committed to scheduling a time to sit down and view your stats, you may as well make it a standing date.
Measuring stats at consistent measurement of time apart will make it so much easier to compare the results of one time period to the next!
Do you track your stats once a week? Try to change just one thing that week so that you know what to attribute your successes or flops to!
These numbers mean zero to your biz if you never actually go back and look for those trends that are happening. Make sure to set a time each quarter to review your progress and plan out your strategies for the coming chapter!
Are your new users on the rise each week! Congrats! That means your marketing efforts are finally paying off! But people tend to act a bit differently when they are the new kid on the block. They are less likely to convert from visitor to whatever your site goal is (client, customers, subscriber, etc.).
And since they don’t know you from Adam yet, they probably aren’t going to dig around in your site too much to find what they are looking for, unlike a returning visitor who has benefitted from your crazy helpful content in the past and knows it’s worth taking the time to poke around the other pages of your site too.
Basically, if both these numbers are steadily on the rise, you’re on the right track.
To view this report, head to audience > behavior > new vs. returning
You don’t need to know every last place your visitors are coming to you from, but taking a peek at those top referrers will give you an idea of where to be investing your time and dollars on marketing efforts.
This is the quickest way to see if actions you are taking off your site (ie. your social media marketing) is actually paying off and giving you a solid ROI for the time you spend storying or in your DMs every day.
To view this report, head to acquisition > overview
These are the people who somehow land on your site, but then immediately peace out after viewing just one page. ✌️
This could mean one of a few things, some good, some not-so-good.
If someone Googled something, your result came up, they clicked, got their answer/learned everything they wanted to know and left satisfied, yeah they only went on one page, but that’s a good thing, because your search result/page satisfied their question right away.
On the other hand, a high bounce rate could mean the site visitor maybe got impatient waiting for your super slow page load, couldn’t find what they were looking for and got annoyed, or took one look at your site vibe and thought “nah.”
Because your bounce rate could mean both good and bad things, there’s really no magic number here.
To view this report, head to acquisition > overview just as you did for referral source, to see the % of visitors who bounced after just one page based on which source they are coming from.
What’s your main site goal? Get visitors to book a consult call? Sign up for your newsletter so you can use email marketing to sell your thing to them down the road?
Whatever your main site goals are, take a look at how many people took that action vs. how many total people visited your site or the page where that CTA (call-to-action) lives.
If your conversion rate isn’t looking too hot, some site tweaking or landing page improvements may be in order!
To view this report, you must first enable and set up your goals.
To do that, head to conversions > goals > overiew and click set up goals.
Once you’ve told Google Analytics exactly what to track, you can follow the same path as above to view your conversions for each period.
Heads up! This is another thing that won’t track until it’s set up, so if you have some goals in mind for your site, don’t put off adding them to Google Analytics!
Here’s a a freebie opt-in sign up goal that I just created as an example using an after opt-in landing page as my “goal destination” to track future number of sign-ups and opt-in page abandoners!
“Was it something I said?”
Want to keep people around your site longer? Find out what’s causing them to leave!
Obvs a visitor can’t live on your site forever (though some might want to if you’ve done a good job of making your site their happy place), but if a ton of visitors seem to be exiting your site from the same page, you may want to ask yourself why.
Perhaps you haven’t made it super clear where they are supposed to go next – which can easily be sorted with a super clear CTA, btw!
Or maybe you missed toggling that “open in a new tab” button when creating your link to an external resource you mention, and are accidentally sending people away from your site.
To view that report, head to behavior > site content > exit pages.
Did your article on three-toed sloths get a ton of traffic?
Good. Write more on that.
Being able to see what was a big hit, and what visitors seemed to find less relevant helps you understand which type of content to be creating in the future to keep your audience satisfied and coming back again and again.
To view that report, head to behavior > site content > all pages.
Like I said, the most helpful stats are those you will actually follow through with measuring, so pick the ones you think are most important to you!
It can feel like just another thing to add to the laundry list of to-dos that you already have to try to juggle as a business owner, but faithfully tracking your numbers will inform the way you do a lot of things in your business.
…things you might have otherwise just had to take a stab in the dark at.
Not a super solid business strategy.
And honestly, it does start to get pretty dang interesting and even addicting when you start to see results!
Before you know it, you’ll be poppin’ in to your Google Analytics Dashboard to nerd out on those numbers on the regular!