Today’s look at the backend of our site was particularly useful. Especially as a content creator, Google Analytics provides some interesting information breakdown that’s really helpful for our site. Even though I understood that there was some degree of information that websites were able to keep track of, it was still surprising to know how detailed the information could be.
For example, within the Audience menu in Google Analytics, there’s a report that shows how traffic flows through your site. It starts off with users’ origins, with visual links between the initial landing pages and subsequent pages that the users go to, as well as what pages they dropped off on.
That’s helpful, for example, when I’m designing my site to know where people are going. If there’s a large number of people visiting a certain page after another, I might design it so that there are more handy links available, and/or feature them more prominently. On the flip side, if there are pages that are not leading to clicks, I’ll be able to investigate and see why (ex. Are people not aware that it exists?).
The data on the time of day and sessions by device are also important information.
Right now, my site shows users accessing the site at random times, probably due to search engine bots that are scouring the site. However, even with the limited information that I have, I can tell that traffic typically peaks around the early afternoon. That information would definitely help me when I schedule posts or make changes to the site. I might do so ahead of time, in preparation of when the traffic flow will be heavier.
In terms of devices, I’ve accessed the site mostly via desktop, so of course, my design choices catered to this perspective. However, there is a significant minority of users on my site that access via mobile, which has definitely led me to reconsider how this site functions on that platform. I’ve spent more time adjusting small things to make sure that everything still flows relatively well on different platforms, which is certainly something that’ll help the overall user experience.
SEO, or search engine optimization, was another useful discussion. Most people find sites via search engines, making this an important factor if content creators want to grow their audience.
Words and titles are something that they rely on quite a bit to get the right results, particularly by identifying key words. However, the most essential part is also having more links to your site. The more that you have, the higher the reputation is considered, and the higher the placement on the search results.
As a small content creator, that’s probably the hardest hurdle to get past in the beginning. It’s like a chicken and egg situation; how do we get more links and mentions before we develop an audience? But what I’ve done is at least try to focus on those first aspects, making sure I’m putting out content that engages the audience and also clearly identifiable aspects, for example, keywords and headers, if Google tries to index my site.
In a related discussion from our readings about the Dark Web vs the Deep Web, I found it to be an interesting little read. I remember first hearing about the ‘Dark Web’ years ago, and I knew that it was often a haven for illicit transactions. But that term was often used interchangeably with ‘Deep Web’ which turns out to be something totally different.
To recap the readings, the ‘Deep Web’ is simply something that major search engines are unable to index, for example, the archives within government agencies. I’ve looked through old maps from the City of Vancouver’s site, which definitely would be very difficult for a search engine to find. The ‘Dark’ Web’ are sites that are not even accessible to users with conventional browsers.
Knowing this difference I think is useful for content creators. People might think that their sites are perfectly accessible because of how much we’re typically able to find on Google, but in some instances, that’s clearly not the case. While government archives are not expected to go viral, certainly if creators want to grow their audience, they need to closely monitor their sites and not simply expect that Google will do the work for them.