Hit or miss: essential website analytics
Many of you have heard the buzz word 'hits'... as in "Wow! My website gets 500 hits per day!". The number sounds impressive, but what does it actually mean? The answer is maybe not much. Hits refers to the number of times the web server has been accessed for individual files. Files may include HTML pages, images, and scripts. A single web page may provide tens or even hundreds of hits depending on its complexity. If for example on a given web page there are thirty images to download, each time someone lands on that page the number of hits would be recorded as 30. As a result, this statistic is very ambiguous at best. Here are some others to consider.
Much more useful than hits, this statistic indicates the number of people that visit your website in a given period. The better statistics tools will also provide you with the number of 'unique visitors' - the number of different people accessing your website in a particular period. Looking at these numbers you can see how many people are going to your website for the first time and how many are coming back for repeat visits.
Page views per visitor/ average time spent on site
These give you a bit more insight into what your visitors do, as it tells you how many pages they are viewing and how long they stay. If a significant number of visitors are not remaining on your site for long, or if they are not looking at many pages, this may be telling you something your site's overall impact. It could be that your site is not giving the right message to your target market, or that the visitors are confused by the layout of the site and decide to leave. Or it could be that you are attracting visitors who are not looking for what you have to offer. In any case, it may something you want to look further into.
Most/least requested pages
If you want to know what is most important to your visitors, here you have it. This statistic tells you the most and least popular pages of your site. If there is something on a least requested page that you really want your audience to see, it is time to apply a new strategy to get them to that information. From a customer service perspective, if you can see what your visitors are interested in, you can give them more of what they want.
Top search phrases
Which search phrases are bringing you the money? Do you know? If so, you may be able to capitalize on them in other online marketing directions. Are many visitors are arriving at your site via search phrases that are irrelevant to your offerings? If so, that might explain why you are not getting the most out of your web traffic. It may be time to look at optimising your site for some more strategic keywords. Are visitors searching on your company name? That can indicate that your brand is making a name for itself or that your offline advertising is working well.
Good thing you're still reading! This can be one of the most interesting statistics of all. Referrer statistics tell you where people were directly before they arrived at your site so that you can see how people are finding you. These stats can give you excellent insight into your marketing. If you are in the search engines, you can see which ones are bringing you the most traffic and where you rank in those search engines. Maybe you have some online marketing in place. You can see how much traffic that is bringing you. Also you can see how many visitors are coming to your site by directly typing in your URL or from a bookmark.
Your investment makes a difference
As you can see, there is a great wealth of information out there. I've covered a number of the most relevant statistics that can help you measure the effectiveness of your website. If you don't have access to these statistics now, it may be worth your while to get them. Invest some time into finding out what your website is really up to, and you may find that a few small changes can bring you a great harvest of rewards.
Remember, your website is an employee with a unique and valuable job, but like most employees it requires your supervision and guidance to make sure it's hitting the mark.
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