I have zero background in web analytics so first my first blog post I decided to start with the basics and create a sort of web analytics for dummies. Together with some smart people I found via the internet, I've compiled a top five things to do when starting to analyze a company.
1. Before you even begin going through web analytics make sure to take a good at the website you are analyzing. Go through every aspect of the website and try to get a feel for the company. Make sure you understand the company and its mission. Also look into understanding the customer before you even start, so you know what customers are interested in the company and who the company should be targeting.
2. One of the first things to look at when analyzing data is the traffic source data. You want to make sure that the company has data coming in from a variety of sources. If it overly weighted to one category it is important for them to begin on focusing on the areas of their web traffic before you even start on more complicated issues. Once you get further into the analytics of the sight you can set up a goal scenario in google analytics, that helps you follow traffic sources and try out different leads.
This is important because you don't want only people that know you searching for your company. One of the main reasons you have a website is to help your company acquire new customers, by having a larger variety of web traffic coming to your sight you will be better positioned to reach those new customers you are looking for.
3. It's extremely important to find out how often visiters visit the sight and how long they stay once they are there. You want customers to be attached to your sight. On google analytics you can look at the standard visitor loyalty report, Length of visit, or the visitor recency report. All of these help you to see how often people visit or how long they stay. Giving you an idea of how important your website is to your customers, and which pages they reference the most.
4. You have to find out what to do with the data that you find, and make specific recommendations. A useful tool for easy recommendations is looking at the standard report in google analytics. This can help you see the bounce rate for your site, and the bounce rate for certain pages. This will help you to know which pages of your site are bad and need to be improved (The bounce rate is how many people come to your site and immediately leave without moving to other pages.)
If you are not able to communicate your findings and find a recommendation to make from them, they are worthless to a client. Knowing what customers are doing with out creating an action from that knowledge won't do you any good. Look for results that you can communicate.
5. Look further into how people are searching for you on the internet. www.wordle.net is a great resource for conceptualizing searches people used to reach you. When you create a tag cloud with all of your search data and enter it into wordle.net it allows you to visualize the dominate searches. You want to make sure there isn't only one word that people are searching, but a large amount of keywords that also lead people to you.