google analytics

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Church Website: Google Analytics

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Church Website (Google Analytics) (1).png

How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? For Community Bible Church our primary goal of the website is to lead people from website visitors to worship attenders.  That’s very hard to measure though.  While it’s hard to measure, we still try to measure all that we can and strive to enhance our website to become the most effective ministry tool that we can.  In order to measure the effectiveness of our website we primarily measure 4 things via Google Analytics:

  1. Overall Website Traffic - we believe that the better we make our website the more people will visit it. People will come through social sharing, personal invites and Google search results. We desire for our church to grow and often that church growth is directly in line with the growth of our website traffic.  

  2. Time On Site - while we don’t want people to live on our website, we do want people to spend significant time on our website finding out more about how they can get connected, watch sermon videos, and more. We primarily measure the time on site of our first time visitors to see well we are engaging this audience.

  3. Google Search Traffic - optimizing our site for Google search results is very important. People primarily navigate the Internet through Google and we want people to find our church through their searches.  

  4. First Time Visitors - the primary goal of our website is to reach new people in our community. If all we have are returning website visitors we are providing value to our church members, but we are missing our primary target audience.  

How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? What other opportunities do we have to measure the effectiveness of our websites?


Google Analytics Real Time Reports

Google Real Time Analytics
Google Real Time Analytics

When it comes to Google Analytics this is probably my favorite thing to watch yet also possibly the least useful.  Real Time Analytics will tell you how many people are on at that exact time, what pages they are viewing, how long they have been on, and how they got to the site.  It's pretty incredible.  I'm also a map guy and love the map that is displayed letting you see where people are logging in from displayed on a map.

You get to Real Time Analytics from the Home Screen Going to Standard Reports --> choosing Real Time --> then choose Overview and you are there.  You can then browse around and check out the incredible reports that Google pulls together in real time!

While most of my viewing of this page can be an ineffective use of time and just fun to watch, it also can provide great value.  When posting at specific times or publicity events that you think might drive increased traffic are good times to monitor Real Time Analytics.

If you have some uses for this tool, I would love to hear them!  Even if you don't I think you too will enjoy watching your web traffic and their behavior in real time via Real Time Reporting.  Enjoy!

Google Analytics: Understanding Your Need for Mobile

A couple of years ago the word mobile started becoming the buzz around technology circles.  Web developers discussed the need for mobile apps or a mobile friendly website.  People often blow it off because they don't use mobile to surf the web or they embrace it blindly trusting the "experts".  With Google Analytics you can track your website and see how many people view the site on a mobile device, here's how: When you enter Google Analytics first go to the "Audience" Tab, then click "Mobile", then "Overview".  Scroll down below the graph and you will see this information:

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 8.47.43 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 8.47.43 PM

The "No" tells you how many people are viewing your site on a laptop or desktop computer.  The "Yes" tells you how many people are viewing your site on a mobile device.  My guess is that your statistics will look much like ours if you track over the past two years and the mobile number continues to grow steadily.  Because of our tracking this information we have chosen to move forward with both a mobile optimized website and a native mobile app.  I will be eager to see how these numbers change as we not just understand that mobile is important to our audience, but we optimize the web experience for those mobile users.

By the way, I noticed that around 30% of you on this blog prefer to view the site on a mobile device.  Yet another reason why I love having the Standard Theme with their natural mobile friendly functionality!

Have you gone mobile or considering the need to be more mobile friendly?  Do you see similar trends in your web analytics?

Google Analytics: Traffic Sources

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 11.18.55 PM One of the most important features that you can utilize in Google Analytics is analyzing the traffic sources.  If you look on the left hand side you can open this page and in the middle of the page you will see a pie graph that looks similar to the one above.  People always want to know or at least should know how people find their website and thanks to Google Analytics you can easily know this information.

To quickly clarify all of these numbers/names, let me highlight each of them here:

1) Search Traffic- this is the number/percentage of people who arrive at your site due to searching in Google, Yahoo, Bing, or another search engines.  Below the graph you can see a list of the top 10 keyword terms that lead people to your site.

2) Referral Traffic- these are the websites/locations that people are clicking on a link that leads them to your website.  You can click on the link that says "Sources" below the graph under Referral Traffic to see this list.  It can be very valuable to see what leads people to your website/how they are finding you online.

3) Direct Traffic- these are the people that are typing in your domain name in their URL bar and going directly to your site.  This is often a good reference as to how well you are promoting your domain name both among your congregation and in your community.

4) Campaigns- this refers to any traffic that might have come to your site due to a Google Adwords campaign.  If you run Google Adwords campaigns you should see a high number here and if not you should see little to no traffic from these.

People always want to know or at least should know how people find their website.  Almost always people assume that 90% of their traffic is from people directly typing in their domain and are shocked when they find how many people find the site due to search engines (Google specifically).  You can actually dig into these numbers much deeper finding out from each external website how long people stayed on the site, how many pages they viewed, etc.  It really is fascinating, but we'll stay focused on the basics of the feature for now.

Knowing your traffic sources and what people are searching for can be very valuable as you think about who is coming to your site and how effectively you promote the site externally. These numbers can give you a great indication to both how effectively optimized your website is to search engines as well as how well you are promoting your website both through Social Media (referral traffic) and domain promotion (direct traffic).

Please comment to share any thoughts or questions that you might have about the Traffic Sources functionality of Google Analytics.


Getting Started with Google Analytics

As I've shared before, I love to count things and tracking analytics is honestly a lot of fun for me.  In a previous post post I shared my use of both StatCounter and Google Analytics to track web traffic on my blog, but Google Analytics has been my go to when it comes to all of the sites that I track.  It is important to understand the platform, what you can track, why you should track, and how you should track the traffic on your website or blog.  Before I get into the how to of Google Analytics, let me answer a few FAQs about the platform first: What can you track?

You can track how many total visitors are visiting your site, how long they are on the site, how many pages they look at, where they live (city not address), how they got to your site, what device they are using, and much much more that I will get to later.

Why should you track?

It is important to know who your audience is, what content they're engaging with, what drives your traffic, etc.  Without this understanding you can waste a lot of time creating content that no one engages with or in promotional efforts that are ineffective.

How often should you track?

I recommend checking Google Analytics at least once a week for 15 minutes and once a month for close to an hour.  Honestly I check multiple times each day, but that's not necessarily healthy and the best use of your time.

So let's get to the meat of the post: where to start.  Here are the practical 1st steps if you don't yet have a Google account.  If you like many people already have a Gmail account you can use your Gmail credentials to setup your Google Analytics account as well.  Here are the steps:

1) Go to and setup your account

2) Add your website or blog as a property: Instructions here.

3) Install your tracking code into your website or blog: Instructions here.

With these 3 simple steps, you're all set and ready to start tracking traffic on your site.  Know that Google Analytics can only track traffic from that point on and can not track back traffic.

Now, what should you begin tracking first?

When you first open your Google Analytics report for your blog or website make sure that you are in the "Standard Reporting" section and this should be what you see on your screen:

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 12.42.37 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 12.42.37 PM

1) Check the Graph: The first thing that I always look at is the graph checking for spikes or dips in traffic.  I want to know what might have caused a spike or dip in web traffic.  You can put your cursor of the tip of the dip or spike and it will give you the specific day that this took place.  We will discuss later how to dig into these peaks in more detail, but you will likely be able to pinpoint it to a specific post or link that led to the spike.

2) Visitors: The next thing I look at is the Total Visitors number to see how many people all together have seen the site.  The total number will count people multiple times if they visited your site multiple times through the designated time frame.  I then look just below it the Unique Visitors to see how many different visitors came to the site (everyone is only counted once in this number).  The pie graph just to the right of this will display then how much of your traffic is new visitors vs. returning visitors.  It's important to see if your audience is primarily the same people or if you have a great amount of traffic that are new visitors.

3) Time on Site: The other very important thing to look at on this page is Avg. Visit Duration which will tell you how long people stay on your site on average.  You can also see if they browsed your site looking at many pages or primarily just looked at the 1 landing page.  These numbers will tell you how engaging your content is and how appealing the other links/pages on your site are to visitors of the site.

These quick tips will get your started and tell you a great deal about your web traffic, but know that this is just the beginning of all that you can track and all of the value that you can gain from understanding the behavior of those who visit your website or blog.  Google Analytics can be an incredible tool if you learn to use it wisely.  I look forward to sharing with you all that I am learning and would love to hear from you as well.

Please share how often you use analytics and what questions that you might have about Google Analytics specifically.