(As published in the Sunday Star Times, May 17, 2015: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/68483238/track-your-websites-performance)

Hopefully you now view your website as a salesperson rather than a brochure and you realise you can use Google Analytics to improve how your website is working for you. This week I want to show you how to configure your Google Analytics to track the bits that really matter. How would you measure the performance of a salesperson if you didn’t keep track of the sales they made? With a great deal of difficulty. Same goes for your website. Keep its performance on track by putting some goals in place.

Unfortunately, your Google Analytics account isn’t automatically set up to measure the sales made by your website – this is something you have to sit down and do. But it’s most definitely worth your while. How can you measure performance if you don’t track it?

Let’s cover what you may want to track.

For those with an e-commerce website, the outcomes you’ll want to track are quite straightforward. You’ll want to track how many online sales you’ve made, how many people signed up online to your newsletter (or for other bait, such as a “Cheat Sheet” or “Helpful Guide to”) and possibly how many viewed your website videos.

If your business sells services (such as accounting or cleaning), it’s a bit different. Your website is probably there to generate leads – it tells potential customers who you are and what you do, before prompting them to get in touch with one of your salespeople, who will then (hopefully) convert it into a sale. While we can’t track sales on service-focused websites, we can track interest. This includes visitors who viewed videos, downloaded PDF documents, completed quote request forms or filled in Contact Us pages. Visitors doing some or all of these actions are obviously more engaged than those that don’t – they’re showing interest.

So you want to track all the website actions that show engagement (as we’ve outlined above). To do this, head over to the “Goals” section of your Google Analytics account and work through setting them up.

Once this is completed, Google Analytics will help you create the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that will let you know if you need to make any website changes to improve each goal. For instance, your reporting may tell you that 2% of your website visitors complete your Contact Us page. Or that just 3% of visitors to your homepage play the video that’s there. Or only 0.5% of visitors buy something from your e-commerce website. All of these results are on the low end – but at least you’ve started tracking them and are now aware they need work. I’ll share how to do that next week.

The main thing is now you know where you stand. Well done for getting this far and having some Google Analytics goals set up – based on my experience of reviewing hundreds of Google Analytics accounts, just doing this puts yourself in the top 35% of website owners.