Basic web analytics: Four important questions
Having a website is just the first step. It's also important to understand the trends behind your website traffic.
Web analytics can be the key to unlocking precious information about who is visiting your website and what they're doing while they're there. By way of collecting data and measuring it, you can analyze your website traffic in a meaningful way. There are a variety of website metrics available, and they can help you find better ways to engage with your customers and identify tactics for attracting new ones. If you're just getting started with web analytics, it's crucial that you understand and track the metrics that answer these four questions:
How many visitors does your website have?
Although it seems that this question should have one simple answer, there are many ways to track website visitors.
Page views: This refers to the number of times a particular page was viewed by any website visitor. Higher page view numbers indicate that a page is more interesting for your visitors, or perhaps it has been linked to another high-traffic page.
Visits: This shows the number of visitors to a particular site. A visit can consist of many page views or just one.
Unique visitors: This metric indicates the number of site visits by different, or unique, users. Comparing this metric with visits can reveal whether people are visiting your site just once or coming back multiple times.
For more help understanding the differences, check out HubSpot Academy.
How are visitors getting to your website?
Now that you have a general idea of how many people are visiting your website, you can dig deeper to learn where they are clicking from. Some helpful metrics for this include:
Referrals: These are external links that send visitors to your site. By examining your referral opportunities, you can identify the best places for advertising and opportunities for potential collaboration partners.
Search keywords: These are the words or phrases that the visitor typed into a search engine in order to find your website. It can help you identify the words that users are targeting to find you, so you can use those keywords more effectively in your content.
You can also use features such as profile information and distance reports to learn more about the visitors themselves. This includes the browser they are using, the country or region they are from, and more.
How are your visitors interacting with your website?
Now that you know how many people are coming to your site and how they are getting there, it's helpful to understand what they are doing once they arrive.
Bounce rate: This marks the percentage of visits where the visitor left after viewing only one page. If people quickly come and go, you'll have a higher bounce rate. A lower bounce rate means they are sticking around. Knowing this allows you to gauge the quality of your content and pages and whether you need to improve them.
Click paths: A click path is a graphical representation that shows the visitor's journey through your site, so you know exactly where they go and in what order.
Site speed: Also known as page load time, this tells you how fast your website is. A slow site can drive customers away. Knowing your site speed means you can take the measures to speed it up if necessary.
Platform: Platform analytics tell you what devices (mobile, desktop or tablet) visitors are using to access your website. This allows you to design your site for optimal interaction with the devices that people are using to visit you.
Web analytics offer powerful insights into how your business is performing online and how your customers experience your website. By taking the appropriate steps, you can use each of the metrics listed above to make positive changes, such as optimizing your site for mobile viewing. This can help you better connect with customers, old and new.
Where can you get web analytics that meet your needs?
You have to find the appropriate tool to help you analyze these metrics. The most popular option is Google Analytics, which is a free tool that allows you to see analytics and examine reports. Other free alternatives may include host-provided software from your web host and Piwik. If you want more specific and in-depth reports, you can choose a fee-based package or explore options from a marketing or IT consultant.