Almost all websites have some sort of analytics incorporated into them. But if you do not understand how to read website statistics one can easily get confused. To make it even more confusing there are many different free and paid analytics programs available. No analytics program is really better than another they just work differently. The website analytic programs used vary from developer to developer but WebDuck Designs prefers to use Google Analytics along with server stats. Looking at both server and installed stats allows us to get a better overall understanding of a website’s effectiveness.
If read properly website analytics can tell you a lot about your site like: if your website is accomplishing its purpose or if there is a problem with your website. Our goal in writing this is to give less internet savvy individuals a better understanding of what their statistics say about their website. It is also pertinent to know the meanings of certain web terms in order to know what they can tell you about your website.
One of the very important statistics that site analytics give you is visits. Analytics typically show total site visits and unique visitors. Unique visitors are the actual number of visitors which come to your website in a certain period of time. For example, if I went to a website 10 times in a month that would be only 1 unique visitor.
The number of total visits is the total amount of times your site was visited including people returning multiple times. A lot of people mistake hits with visits, they are not the same thing. Hits are the total number of http hits on your site. Each time a web page, image or any other file is being requested counts as a hit. The total number of visits can tell you if people are only going to your site once or if people keep returning to your website. If you have 500 unique visits and 2500 total visits that means that people are going to your site more than once. If website stats for an e-store show there are multiple people returning to your site that could mean your site and products are well liked and your website is working for you.
The amount of time visitors spend on your website can also be an indication of the quality of your site. If your site is not working the average time visitors spend on it will be low. If you had 1,000 visitors last month and 800 of them left within 0-30 seconds than you have a problem. Finding out what the problem is can be difficult which is how understanding your site statistics can help. If you fix something on your site and you notice on your site analytics people are now averaging 5 minutes on your site you now know you fixed the problem.
One problem could be that the keywords bringing traffic to your site are wrong and directing the wrong visitors. Maybe you are confusing visitors with too much flash or your site does not look professional enough and people exit immediately. Or maybe your site is difficult to navigate and instead of trying to figure out where to go visitors just leave. The number of pages visited and/or pages which were visited in your site statistics can help you determine where your problem lies.
Bounce rate is another important website statistic. A site’s bounce rate shows what percent of site visitors are leaving the site immediately, usually within 30 seconds. If your bounce rate is under 50% that is good, but if it is above 50% than people are leaving your site immediately and you know you have a problem. You want visitors to look around your site and if you have a high bounce rate that is not happening. If you have a high bounce rate that means your site is not showing the information visitors are looking for, your site is not professional looking or it has other issues. The best way to find out what is wrong is through trial and error. Fix one thing and give it a month and check back your site stats to see if your bounce rate has decreased.
You can pinpoint specific problems by looking at how long visitors are staying on certain pages. If you have a page which 90% of visitors are leaving immediately you know there is something wrong with it. If you cannot locate the problem on that page it would be best to get feedback from others. You know the problem was fixed when the analytics show the time visitors spend on that page increases drastically. In contrast, if you find that a large amount of people are viewing a certain page and are staying on it you should adjust your page to add “buy now” or other act now buttons.
Most websites have exit pages, which are pages which are intended to be the last page visited, like a checkout page in a store or a contact form page. Looking at site statistics can tell you if people are leaving quickly from a page which is not intended to be an exit page. People are going to exit from various pages, but if a significant number of visitors are exiting from a page not intended to be an exit page you have a problem. The home page for example should not be a high exit page; if 80% of people are exiting your home page you have a problem. By reviewing the page you should be able to pinpoint why people are exiting from that page. Once you fix those potential problems give your site statistics a month and then review them again. If the number of exits from that page has gone down drastically than you have fixed your problem.
Site analytics can show you traffic sources including referring sites which are the sites which send traffic to you. If you have a link on another website and someone clicks on it they are brought to your site and that is counted as a referring site visit. Referring sites show you where your visitors are coming from which allows you to see what marketing tactics are working or not working. Once you your traffic sources you can adjust your budget to put more money towards what is bringing you traffic.
Traffic sources will also show how many visitors are coming in from search engines. If you rank high in search engines you are likely to get more traffic from the search engines than referring sites. You can also tell when search engine spiders crawl your website by looking over your site analytics. Monitoring when spiders crawl your site will allow you to make sure they are doing so on a consistent basis and you can tell if they have crawled it since you made any adjustments to your site.
Website analytics will show you the search terms for your site, which is a list of terms used by visitors to find your website. Search terms can either be search phrases or keywords which people typed in to search engines to get to your website. Analytics will also tell you how many times people found you under each term. If you are looking to get more traffic under certain keywords this data will tell you if you are or aren’t successful. If you are getting a lot of traffic from certain keywords than you more than likely show up high in the search engines for that term. On the other hand, if you are not getting a lot of traffic from an important keyword than you should further optimize your site with that keyword and after a while review the statistics again.
As you can see website analytics are vital to the success of a website. Website analytics can show you how many people visit your site, where people are finding your site, how much people look around your site, what pages people are exiting your site from and much more! Now that you are able to understand your statistics you can tell: how well your site is doing, if there are any problems within your site and can even locate where you have a problem. Site analytics can allow you to transform a low traffic website into a profitable marketing tool. If you are running any type of advertising campaign by reviewing your site statistics you can adjust your marketing efforts to give you a better return on your investment.