How to measure my website visitor numbers?

How is my website performing, how do I know the number of visitors to my website? For almost all photography businesses their website is a key tool in their marketing strategy. For most people that want to use a photographer they are going to go down one of two routes. The first is to think about who they know in their network (so as a commercial photographer having a strong local network is vital), the second is to search on their phone. As we know people search Facebook, TikTok and other tools, but for most people (unless your target audience is very young adults) Google is the go-to place to search. And so, ensuring that when someone does a Google search for a photographer near them, your name appears on the search is vital. The next logical question is how is my website performing? To answer this many people, search for something. It might be their business name and it might be terms like photographer near me. And if your website appears, bliss and if not worry. But, it’s not as simple as that. Google searches are based on your location, search history, preferences and many other factors. Often you are searching from the very location your business is registered (your home). And given your location, you are a photographer really near you! But this isn’t very scientific or realistic. This doesn’t tell you if your audience are finding you on Google, or what search terms they are using when they do find you. We need to use a data based approach that will give us clear facts about our website’s performance. We cannot improve the performance of our website on Google if we do not know how it is performing now.

So how can we get this data?

This is a free tool provided by Google that provides data about your website. To use it you need to setup a Google Analytics account and connect it to your website. There is a blog coming shortly showing you exactly how to do this. Once you have Google Analytics setup you have access to all sorts of data about your website. Data such as visitor numbers, which pages are visited and by how many people. Where visitors came from (Google search, social, email marketing etc). It tells you how long visitors spend on your site or page. If they then leave or go to other pages. What the bounce rate is (percent of visitors who leave with zero interaction with your website). This is a very powerful tool. The default reports are easy to use and browse. As you spend more time with it there are lots of ways that you can dig much deeper into your data. There is a blog coming soon giving you a tour of Analytics and the data this provides. There are two key pieces of data that Analytics doesn’t provide you with. Which buttons or links were clicked and what search terms visitors used to find you. The clicks can be added in Google tag manager, but this is a more advanced tool. It is not needed for most businesses unless you want detailed analysis of certain buttons, or you are running Google ads. But search terms is something that’s useful. To get access to your search terms you need to connect to another Google service. Google Search Console.

Google Search Console

As with Google Analytics, this is another free tool. This time it’s all about search instead of your website (or how your website performs in Google search). As with Analytics, you need to set up an account and connect it to your website. A blog is on the way explaining how to do this. Once Google Search Console is set up what does it do for you? There are a few extras not relevant to the data we want here, but which are really useful. These include:

· Submitting your site map to Google. This means you are informing Google your website exists. And giving it details of every page so it knows your website is there and can add it to its search engine.

· Checking Google’s “Core Web Vitals”. These are a set of stats that Google uses to judge your website.

· You are connecting to a Google service, that emails you if there is a problem with your website. This is vital to ensure that Google is not pushing you down the search rankings without you knowing about it.

There is a blog coming that goes into these in more detail. For you at the moment, the most important thing is that Google Search Console allows you access to the search terms visitors have used to find you.

Combining Google Analytics and Google Search Console

The two tools are really powerful when combined. There is a blog coming showing you how to connect them. Once they are connected Google Analytics can show you whether people used Google search to reach a particular page and you can start to drill down into the search terms used. Google is very careful here not to reveal individual searches and so data is aggregated as much as possible. This can mean if your visitor numbers are really low, you can’t get much useful data here. It doesn’t tell you what individual visitors searched for. But once you have a good number of visitors some valuable data can be seen here.

In conclusion

Once you have Google Search Console and Google Analytics setup, and connected together, you can collect relevant data about your website. You will need to wait some time after the services are connected for the data to collect. but once it does you are then in a position to look at the hard facts about your website. How many visitors are there, when do they visit, what has directed them to your site and what are they doing once they are there? This is all vital information. If you want to improve how your website performs in Google searches you need this information to see how it is performing now.