Web Analytics and What They Mean
Web analytics are an important part of Internet marketing. By keeping track of your visitors’ behavior, you will be better equipped to adjust your website to increase sales.
When it comes to running a business, tracking is everything. You need to monitor sales, of course, but if you have a website, you should also understand how much traffic you’re getting and what those people are doing once they arrive on the website. Where do they go? What do they click on? If they leave before buying, what made them go?
Web analytics can share all this information with you, but even once you understand it, it’s up to you to turn this knowledge into something you can use. Knowing that you get more visitors to a specific article on your website, for example, will let you know that you should provide more information on that topic. If you notice a large percentage of your visitors are from a specific area, you might want to tailor some of your content and services to that geographic.
A Web analytics program will cover a lot of new terminology, so you’ll need to understand it all.
Most people assume that the number of hits they have is the number of visitors on their website, but it is just a record of how many times a file has been requested from the server. The more complicated a web page is, the more hits it will have from a single visitor. Just one page can contain dozens of files.
A page view is defined as the viewing of one page, so one page view could generate a number of hits and one visitor could look at a number of pages, generating plenty of page views. This can be interesting because the difference between this number and the number of visitors will give you an idea as to how many pages each person is looking at. This can also be tracked by some programs.
There are several different terms under Visits.
- Unique visitor/visits (only counts the first time the person visits in the past 24 hours/week, etc.)
- Repeat visits (counts repeat visitors within the same time frame as above)
- New Visitor (first time someone has seen your site)
Each visit can consist of multiple page views and even more hits. While most programs track both unique and repeat visits, the unique visits are usually what you will want to share with advertisers and the general public.
An impression is counted every time an ad loads and is important if you are making money off of outside advertising. Your potential advertisers will want to know just how many impressions, on average, they can expect. This will also help you set your advertising prices.
A bounce is when someone lands on your website and then leaves again without looking at any other pages. In cases where the bounce rate is very high, it can indicate a problem with the page (only an error is showing, nothing loads, etc.) or a number of spammers hoping to get your attention.
Knowing how long visitors are staying on your site is always a good idea, since it can give you an idea as to how well your pages capture people’s attention. This is not always accurate, though, since someone can leave the site and then come back a short time later, which can confuse the analytics program, which may count the two sessions as one long one.
Page View Duration
This measures how long visitors spend, on average, on a single page. This will let you know how sticky your site is and can also let you know if there are problems in the content, if people are only spending a few seconds per page. Again, this isn’t always accurate. It’s possible that someone has opened the page and then opened other tabs, giving the impression that they spent an hour reading your content, but really they were doing something else.
Also referred to as Sessions per Unique, this covers how many times a person visits your site. This is important because it keeps track of how loyal your visitors are. If the same people are constantly checking your blog or website, you know you have some loyal fans.
Now that you understand what web analytics mean, you’ll need to keep track of them. The most important data includes visitors and unique visitors, as well as session length. You will also see what searches brought people to your website which can help you optimize for keywords. Another useful piece of information is which sites are sending you traffic, as this can let you know where your marketing is working.
Your hosting company should have a Cpanel or something similar where you can check your stats. Usually, there will be at least one or two options to choose from, with AWStats being the most popular. You can also install Google Analytics on your site, which allows Google to monitor and report on your traffic. This is usually more comprehensive than AWStats and can give you quite a bit more information that will help you optimize your site for visitors.