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Using data from Google Analytics and Webmaster tools, what data should I be looking at to improve my websites performance?

I want to improve the SEO, usability and just general performance of my website.

EDIT: It's a portfolio website that we've done the initial SEO for, also optimised all images etc and made the site as fast as possible.

What kind of things should I be looking out for in the analytics and webmaster data to improve performance for both the SEO and each individual page.

EDIT: Is there kind of a weekly/monthly checklist of things to check to improve SEO and performance.

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Give us a little more details about the kind of site you're running and what you've done so far in terms of improvement. –  Renan Jun 27 '11 at 11:44
    
@Renan - just added an update. Usually my question is edited to remove such extra info! –  Rob Jun 27 '11 at 12:44
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Webmaster Tools has a nice feature called "Site performance", under the Labs section. It will show a graph of average load time over the past few months. Unless your site is completely static with low traffic, it will almost certainly be in the red area so don't worry about that.

In some cases (I assume for bigger sites) it lists some of your slowest pages and some suggestions to improve page speed. Those suggestions come from Google's Page Speed tool, so your best bet is to install that, and Yahoo's YSlow tool, to help diagnose any speed issues. Search Pro Webmasters and Stack Overflow too, there are several questions on improving site speed here.

I don't think Google Analytics has anything that shows page speed. There is a "Connection Speeds" page, supposedly showing your visitors' internet speed, but for me this has always shown "Unknown" and nothing else.

In terms of usability, "machines" cannot really help you with that since it's a human reaction. Do some user testing yourself. Accessibility is a useful goal; as usual Wikipedia has plenty of information. There are accessibility checklists around too, just search for them.

For general SEO, you'll want to keep an eye on your top pages and referring keywords in Google Analytics. Use Google's Adwords tool to check if there are important search phrases you are missing out on.

GWT also has a slew of features. "Search queries" shows what your visitors are searching for, similar to GA. Here though you can sort by your average search position, clicks and click-through rate to find potential improvements. "Links to your site" is also pretty useful.

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In regards to site performance I'm at 0.6secs loading (better than 97% of sites according to Google). So I think in speed terms we're fine on that front. We've done several user tests across many departments and eliminated all the niggles. I guess I need to let the site settle (it's only been up a week or two!) before analysing the rest of the data. –  Rob Jun 28 '11 at 14:34
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If you're looking to improve traffic from SEO the best things to look at are your referring traffic, to see which keywords are sending you traffic and from which search engines.

In terms of general improvements it sounds like you main goal is to get people to look at your portfolio. Assuming that's the case I'd say look at bounce rates (this tells you what % of people aren't sticking around) and try to get them as low as possible, then also look at PageViews per Visit this will tell you how much of your portfolio get's looked at by each visitor you'll obviously want to get this as high as possible.

I'll also assume since you have a portfolio you want to get hired for something, if that's the case then conversion rates and revenue will trump all.

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It's still unclear to me what you've been doing in terms of improving the site speed but here goes a small contribution. A small change in the Google Analytics javascript allows the tool to measure each page load speed. It also reports conditionals regarding geographical and technological influence on the loading speed.

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