Why find out?
Finding the busiest time of day for your website is important because it can impact the response to new content. This is especially important where your website shows time-sensitive content such as promotions in your latest blog article or if your newest products are shown somewhere prominent, be it on the front page, an excerpt in a sidebar, or somewhere else altogether. Promotions that might only be valid for 24 hours published right before the busiest time of day for your website will get a much bigger response than at any other time of day. This makes it very worthwhile to work out.
What tools do you need to find out?
There are lots of analysis tools available, and if your website is hosted on a server with cPanel (many Linux based servers do), you probably already have basic traffic statistics available through it. The easiest way though is to install Google Analytics on your website.
Google Analytics is freely available and is one of the most comprehensive website analysis tools available. It can give you much more detail than just the busiest times of day, so if you don’t already use it, it is worth installing so you can analyse your traffic in detail. Once you sign up you will be given a tracking code to place on your website. If you need a hand, just get in touch.
Once it is installed, it will begin gathering data. After about 2 days you will have enough data to begin working with, but you will have the best data for analysis after 30-60 days.
How do you use Google Analytics to find the busiest time of day?
Now that we have some data in Google Analytics we can see when the busiest time is. When you log in to Google Analytics you will see your Visitor Overview.
By default, this overview is set to daily statistics and will give you an idea of the number of visitors you have in a day. To see hourly statistics, all you need to do is click the “Hourly” button on the right-hand side, above the graph. This will give you statistics on an hourly basis instead. Other options include weekly and monthly.
How to read the data
As you can see in the screenshot below, the graph has become much more jagged and there is a pattern showing. If you hover your mouse over a particular point in the graph it will tell you what time and day it is as well as the number of visitors. The time shown is based on the timezone you have set in your account, so to ensure the data is accurate for your purposes, make sure your timezone is set correctly.
On this website, the busiest times of day are on average 4 pm to 6 pm. If you change the default time period to a smaller period, such as the last 7 days instead of the last 30 days this will make it easier to see the times, but it will make patterns less obvious. This can be done by using the drop down date box on the top right.
The next step
Some of the other reports allow you to break them down to hourly statistics as well, some only go down to daily, so you may be able to get even more detailed information by experimenting with other reports. The key thing though is that now you know how to find out the busiest time/s of the day on your website, you can start to use that data to improve your marketing efforts. Depending on your target audience and their timezone, not every website will have clear busy times, but it will still give you an idea of when your visitors are coming and allow you to focus your publishing efforts better.
If you are an e-commerce store or even a physical store with a blog. Try publishing new promotions just before the busiest times on your website and see if it improves the uptake of the promotion or enquiries about it. Make sure you have social sharing options available on your website and see if it gets more shares, likes, retweets and so on. The more people that see your promotions when they are fresh, the more that will share it with others.
If you have other time-sensitive information to share, try posting it just before your busiest times and see what happens. Do you get more comments on it, does it get shared more?
You may not notice a difference, there isn’t anything guaranteed about customer responses, but if you don’t get a bigger response to a clear, busier time of day, you know that something needs tweaking. Maybe it’s the content, maybe it’s the time, maybe it’s the target market. Perhaps your content needs some work to better encourage conversions, or perhaps you haven’t quite got the best time yet. Perhaps you are targetting the wrong market and there is a better one out there that you haven’t discovered yet.
Online marketing relies heavily on experimentation around your business and it’s online presence. There is no sure method that will work for every business in every market to bring in more traffic or get more conversions. If you have the tools to analyse your efforts though then you are on your way to discovering what works for your business.