When chatting with other wedding photographers, I often hear that they don’t know anything about their website analytics and what they mean or that they can’t really be bothered trying to understand it all. But before you spend money on marketing or expensive gear trying to boost your wedding photography business, understanding your website traffic is an inexpensive but essential step in the right direction.
Your wedding photography website traffic can tell you so much about who is visiting your site, which pages they are visiting and where they are from. You’ll get information about how long they stay, if they are viewing it on a mobile or desktop platform and which pages lead to inquiries. This can tell you a lot about whether what you are posting is attracting the clientele you want and if it’s making them take the next step to get in touch with you.
Understanding your website traffic is actually much simpler than it first appears with easy-to-use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. In this episode, we’ll chat about how you can use these tools and what kind of insight they will give you on your website. I’ll also explain a little about what I do to understand my website traffic and the kind of data I look for.
Even from the beginning of this podcast almost two years ago, we’ve talked about the importance of having a quality website. But this is not enough - we need to have visitors!
If nobody is viewing your photos or going to your website, nothing else really matters.
Even if you’re getting followers on social media or your family and friends are telling you how amazing your photos are and you’re even doing things like networking and stylized, if you’re not getting inquiries or bookings or making a living doing this, does all of that really matter?
Before you can get inquiries, you need to have visits to your website. It’s not rocket science! We all know this. I’m sure that 99% of you listening to this have a website or some kind of an online presence. Before anything else, you need to have some way to show your work online.
But how many of us actually know what our traffic is? I’m not just talking about installing Google Analytics or looking on Search Console to see what phrases people are typing. But how many of us are actually checking our web data and our stats on a periodic basis?
Now why this is so important? Because if you don’t know what you’re doing, forget about getting inquiries and bookings. Some of us might be spending way too much of our resources worrying about what camera gear to upgrade to or where to advertise but we have no idea how our website traffic is doing.
How many visitors are we getting? How many actually stay for a minute or more? How many end up filling out your contact form or look through your portfolio and “about” page? Do we know those kinds of characteristics about our website or the potential couples who are inquiring?
That’s something we need to ask ourselves - how many of us are paying attention to our website traffic and how many of us not only have a website but have Google Analytics installed?
So whether you’re at the very beginning, just getting into analytics or you’re already following your traffic, maybe even making some changes, we can all spend a little more time and focus on this. This is something that so many of us overlook and it’s mainly because we’re not sure where to go with this.
I’m here to say that you don’t have to feel that way. It’s not the be all and end all to learn every aspect of it. I would even consider myself a beginner/intermediate at understanding all of this. But I understand enough to make the necessary changes to my website in order to see the improvements.
Why is it important to know your website traffic?
This could be the difference between 4-5 bookings per year, getting 20-25 more inquiries each year, which leads to an additional income of $12-15,000 a year.
I’m pretty sure if you tell any conventional worker “Hey, you could get a raise of $15,000 a year if you do a few of these things.” that most of them will.
So, not to say it’s all about the numbers and finances, but money always talks and matters. If I invest a bit more time in this and make these changes, what could happen afterward? If you see that kind of reward, maybe we could be a bit more motivated and encouraged to do this.
This is something we shouldn’t wait until things get really bad to start implementing. Whatever your goals are, you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to start looking at your website traffic. We should be doing this from the very beginning and even when things go really well.
Check on a regular basis what worked during the past month. Did you see an increase in the number of visitors or more people spent time on certain pages? What was the source of that traffic? Those are the kind of insights and information you can gather.
Now let’s take a look at some of the questions you can answer by looking at your analytics:
Try to do this in blocks of three months or at the very least a month. How many visitors did you get in those three months and maybe you can compare that to three months in the previous year around the same time frame.
If you’re looking to get three bookings and currently you’re getting maybe one a month, ask yourself, “how can I triple that?” You need to get more traffic, perhaps it’s three times more! How is that going to happen overnight or in a month or so. Naturally, as you get more visitors, you’re going to get more eyes and more prospective couples to see your website and inquire.
Your “bounce rate” is the number of visitors who leave the page they landed on right away. They land and they “bounce”, they leave. You want to have as low a “bounce rate” as possible, which means they are visiting other pages on your site.
If you have a high bounce rate, that could mean your cover image is not very good or the headline is not appealing. Something about the initial aspect (the upper half of your website) needs a bit of work. People are basically going to your website, not really enjoying it and they’re leaving right away.
Now related to that will be the time visitors spend on your website. Chances are the lower your “bounce rate”, the more time they’re spending looking at other pages. Nobody is going to come to your wedding photography website, only visit your homepage and book you or at least inquire. That just doesn’t happen.
They’re going to want to look at your wedding portfolio, maybe read about you and your FAQs and, of course, visit your contact page. My average time is about one minute and 52 seconds and my bounce rate is now 43%.
Just as important is the percentage of exits. How many are staying on this website or this page? Let’s say you have a page on your website and the percentage of exits is 90%. 90% of visitors to that page leave right away. That’s valuable information that you can use to enhance that page and your website experience.
Another really important question you can answer from understanding your website traffic is how people are accessing your website. That’s something that Google Analytics can help you track.
There are four main different types of Acquisition when it comes to Google Analytics:
Let’s say you’re really big on social media and you’re trying to grow your following, get likes and comments. However, when you look at your website traffic, it’s only 2 or 5% of all the traffic you’re getting and the far majority of those finding your website is through an Organic Search on Google.
However, you’re spending all this energy and time building up your social media profile.
You should ask yourself, do I want to put all my eggs in this basket or should I spend a bit more time on something else that’s working?
Let’s say you advertise on The Knot and it’s been 4 or 5 months and you haven’t got an inquiry where a prospective couple checked “The Knot” box in your contact form to indicate that’s how they found you.
But then you look at your website traffic and go to Acquisitions and see “Hey, I am getting traffic from The Knot”. What that could mean is that it’s your website that has issues. It’s not the referrer, it’s your website that needs some work.
Another aspect of understanding your website traffic that could be really helpful in identifying the most frequently visited pages of your website. It’s under the BEHAVIOR tab where you’ll see Site Content and All Pages. These are the most visited pages on your website.
You can see where people are visiting, where they’re going and, more often than not, the most visited page is your homepage. For me, the next one is my wedding photography blog.
The third one is my galleries and the fourth my contact page. If you’re finding that your most visited pages are not your home or contact page - that’s a red flag.
On the flip side, maybe you have pages that are not in the top 5 or 10 most visited and you’re spending all this energy and time working on them. Instead, you should be focusing your resources on the most visited pages.
While you're looking at the most visited pages on your website, you should also pay attention to your bounce rate. Maybe you’re getting 300 visits to your contact page every month but only 5-10 inquiries.
What’s going on here? Do they not like the form you have? Are you not asking the right questions? Are you not presenting the pricing and that’s what they want to see? That’s the kind of discussion and analysis you can do once you understand the traffic you are getting.
Another aspect you can determine what's really important in this day and age is the mobile vs. desktop traffic, which is under the AUDIENCE tab. Do you get most of your traffic from a computer, a desktop, a laptop or is it from an iPad, an iPhone, a mobile device?
In my case, I’m getting almost 50/50, so I want to make sure my website is mobile-friendly, optimized for viewing on a phone and tablet. I can’t have this over-the-top, fancy website that looks beautiful on a desktop, but then on a mobile device is not accessible.
Another question you want to ask yourself, especially if you’re getting a good amount of web traffic from Organic Searches, is what keywords and phrases are people typing in to find your website? That’s where something that’s called Search Console comes in.
Search Console, under Google, is actually part of what’s called their Webmaster tools. It’s completely free. Just go to google.com/webmasters or search “Search Console”. The great thing is that if you have a Google account, you’re good to go. Your analytics account, your Search Console account...that’s all going to be tied to your Google account.
Google Analytics and Search Console are basically “talking" to your website through a plugin. So when I go to my Analytics account, I can see all the data directly related to my wedding photography website.
With both Google Analytics and Search Console, there’s going to be a certain code you copy and paste. Then anytime someone is using Google to search a certain phrase, let’s just say “Los Angeles wedding photographer” and they click on your website, Google is going to capture that and give you that kind of information.
Even if they don’t click on your website, it will tell you your website turned up on the first page or page number three. That’s called an “impression”.
But why didn’t they click on my website for this phrase? That’s when you need to maybe modify your meta description or your meta title - the snippet of information that Google shows about your site.
The sooner you set this up, the more information you’re going to have. And on the flip side, if you’re not showing up for a certain keyword, that means you need to do a bit of work on that.
Perhaps the images are not optimized or you need to write a bit more, use the keyword more often and get that post shared.
There are really two main tools that I highly recommend you use if you don’t already. Number 1 is Google Analytics and number 2 is Google Search Console. Both are free and both are under the Google umbrella.
There are tons of tutorials and online information that will help you get started. Just go to YouTube and type in “Google Analytics” or “Basics Google Analytics tutorial”. Same thing with “Search Console”.
There are great tutorials out there, all of which are free, that I highly recommend you watch. Then every now and then, take a refresher course to make sure you’re up to date with all the latest features.
Watch my FREE video explaining how I made $150k+ in the second year of my wedding photography business.