Web Analytics

When it comes to tracking the activity on your website there are a number of ways to gain insight into the behavior of your visitors. Long gone are the days when simply tracking how many hits you get had any validity. Traffic and hits are just a red herring, they distract you from your goal and the quest for traffic causes bad decisions. You stop focusing on the objective and start looking for hits.

In a previous TechTalk I asked about your web goals? Is it to sell something? To receive email? To start a revolution? Every website should have a defined goal. The goal of Bradslavin.com is to get more subscribers to the newsletter. If it is meaningful to you, probably it can be measured.

The definition of analytics in the business environment is the process of taking the aggregation of data, segregating into measurable sub components, the interpretation and timely reporting of these critical metrics. On the web this critical data includes:

Google Analytics

The software that I am going to be introducing to you is Google Analytics, but more importantly I will introduce the key concepts of using web statistics software. Remember keep your eyes on the goal and the rest of the information will make sense.

Web Analytics software uses statistics from your website to create visual reports that represent key indicators of your website. There reports are interpreted, adjusted and tested to provide insight into the behavior of your visitors, the responsiveness of your advertising and the reach of your marketing message. If you are using PPC or PPA advertising, analytics can help you to determine your ROI on each campaign.

Here are some key terms that you will need to understand to harness the power of web analytics.

Hit – The number of hits received by a website is frequently cited to assert its popularity, but this number is extremely misleading and dramatically over-estimates popularity. The total number of visitors or page views provides a more realistic and accurate assessment of popularity.

Visit / Session – A series of requests from the same uniquely identified client with a set timeout. Basically it is how long one visitor stays at your site during one specific period of time.

First Visit / First Session – A visit from a visitor who has not made any previous visits, this is a completely new and unseen visitor. You need to track where these people come from.

Visitor / Unique Visitor – A distinctive visitor to your site and the actions that they perform during a specific range of time.

Repeat Visitor – A visitor that has made at least one previous visit.

Bounce Rate – The percentage of visits where the visitor enters and exits at the same page without visiting any other pages on the site in between.

Have you read my 99 Tips for Using the Internet for Your Business?

Some key reporting areas are:

  • Referring keywords and search terms from search engines – This report will tell you what key terms users are utilizing to find your site. This report is crucial because it is so difficult to determine the intent of the searcher. I know the blogger who runs mindfulness.com and the majority of his referrers are not for his specific industry. He speaks about mindful running and his visitors are also searching for mindful health information. By reading this report you can understand how your visitor found you and what they are expecting to find one they are at your site.
  • Page Popularity Report – The top ten or fifteen most popular pages on your site can lead to a breakthrough on what your visitors are looking for and what they are reading. Sometimes these top performing pages reinforce that your visitors are following your funnel and other times it can uncover huge miscalculations and other interesting data that you had not anticipated.
  • Calling Home – The percentage number of visitors who visit the home page. Most organizations spend days or even weeks optimizing and updating their home pages. They may be surprised to see that somewhere between sixty to ninety percent of your users see your home page.
  • Bounce Rate reporting – This report uncovers that number of visitors who only visit for a few short seconds. They get to you site don’t like what they see and move on to something else. These bounces are a direct reflection that your visitors did not find your information compelling and that you basically failed them. What can you do about a high bounce rate? Take a look at the sites that are sending you referral traffic, perhaps there is some promise that they are making that you are not delivering on. May be there are keywords that you are ranking for that you did not optimize intentionally, the search engines are sending you the traffic, maybe you need to cater to your customer’s latent desires.

Your website wants to tell you everything about itself. How many people visit, how long they stay, where they come from, what they did basically you just need to know how to listen and interpret the data. All of the data has validity but you should focus on the information that converts viewers into customers and customers into advocates. It all starts with defining a goal and working your way to convert the highest percentage of users to that goal – remember conversion ratios from last week?

You can sign up for Google Analytics. If you need help understanding the basics of Analytics let me know and I would be happy to set the account up for you and run some of the reporting features. Make sure that you really understand what the data is trying to tell you and then start Goal Tracking. This information will be paramount to your success.