(As published in the Sunday Star Times, June 21,2015)

From the response I have been receiving to these articles, it seems that a growing number of business owners would love a website that did its job well and delivered a steady stream of high quality leads. Unfortunately, what’s more common is that business owners spend time building a new website and then tear out their hair wondering why it’s not made a jot of difference to their business. Alas, with websites, it’s not a simple case of build it and they will come but Google Analytics (GA) does a good job in helping you understand what areas you can improve or tweak your site in order to improve its performance.

Time is a good metric to keep an eye on. It needs to be optimised in two ways: firstly, by increasing the amount of time your visitors spend on your website and, secondly, by reducing the days between their – hopefully – multiple visits. It’s a bit like making sure those in your bricks-and-mortar shop keep walking around and browsing instead of dashing for the door. In the real world, you’d perhaps achieve this by adding nice couches for their partners to sit while they wait or installing an in-store cafe to keep them there and highly caffeinated.

To tune the time spent on your website, there are a number of strategies you can employ:

Content renovation.

Number one on your list should be improving your content. Last week we talked about how to use GA to find the 20 percent of your website pages that are shown to 80 percent of your visitors. Start with that 20 percent when upgrading your content – you want to make sure the pages that most of your visitors see are at their most captivating. Be aware that your content may need more of a renovation than a cosmetic makeover: think beyond tweaking words and look at your images, design and overall content.

If one of your pages is word-heavy and hard to digest (read: daunting and boring), consider using a well-designed infographic or an embedded video to share that content instead.

Email marketing.

Enticed your visitors to sign up for your newsletter? High five! Your ability to get their attention has just sky-rocketed. Now they no longer have to return to your site to see what’s changed and you have a direct line of contact. Deliver a value-packed newsletter and each edition will move them closer forward to becoming a customer.

Use remarketing to bring them back.

This is a nifty type of advertising that helps reduce the time gap between visits. Remarketing is a Google product that allows you to show banner-style advertising on sites other than your own. The brilliant thing is that your advertising is only shown to those who visited your website. You can set these ads to reach visitors who didn’t convert (ie buy), encouraging them to come back and have another look at your site, as well as those who have purchased from you before, reminding them to come back and purchase again.

So there you have it – three good ways to improve your GA time metric.

Speaking of time, there’s another time issue we should mention: pages that take an age to load.

Don’t expect your visitors to wait too long for that next page to appear. The faster your pages load, the more likely your visitors are to stick around. Look at the “Behavior” part of your Google Analytics account to see the current selection of “Site Speed” reports available. Not only does GA tell you which pages have the most room for improvement, it also tells you what to suggest to your web developer to get the problem solved. How thoughtful is that?!

Chris Price owns Ark Advance, a web optimisation business that specialises in online marketing. Ark Advance also offer a free monthly email newsletter focused on helping business owners grow their services online – sign up for free at www.arkadvance.com.