How to Understand Website Statistics

Is your business suitable for online sales or is your purpose in having a website to increase brand awareness and drive people into a bricks & mortar location to buy products or services?

Do people understand what you want them to do when they go to your website?

Do you analyze your traffic statistics?

How do you know if your website is working if you never look at this great tool that gives you specific information on who is visiting your website and how they are finding your site?

If you check your statistics do you know what they mean?

What’s the difference between visitors and unique visitors?

Some people talk about hits? What does the term “hits” mean?

Do you know what your prospective customers need to hear, read, see, and feel, for them to push the Buy Now button?

Websites are more than just getting traffic. It has to be the right traffic and your site has be able to close the sale.

It’s important to attract visitors and while they are there, capture their contact information; even if they like your website and bookmark it, they may never come back again.

Here’s the most important information you can glean from your web stats and what you can do with that knowledge.

1. Number of visitors – These are the total number of visits to your website in a month, week or day, depending on the time frame you requested the report for.

You want thousands of visitors not hundreds. If you examine how many visits there are to your site and look at the number of unique visitors you have an idea what people think of your website.

2. What is a unique visitor - When someone visits your website the first time, they are a unique visitor, however it’s not that simple. Each statistic package counts visitors differently so it’s important to understand how the technology you are using counts unique visits. Some programs have a 30 minute default which means they reset after 30 minutes which affects stats this way.

1. Mary, Joan and Gail visit a website at 2pm.

2. Mary and Gail go away and come back 25 minutes later to take another look.

3. Joan and Gail come back 3 hours later and then again an hour after that.

Total unique visits would be counted like this:

1st Visit Mary, Joan, Gail – 3 uniques

2nd Visit Mary, Gail – 0 uniques

3rd & 4th Visits Joan, Gail 4 uniques

The same 3 people have generated 7 unique visits in one day.

You may be able to set the parameters for tracking in the program options of your stats package. If you need help send an email to your host support and ask them to walk you through it so you know what your numbers are telling you.

If your stats package is set to reset in 1 month and if you have high visitor numbers and low unique visitor numbers it means that people go to your site often once they have found it but you are not attracting enough new visitors and will have trouble building your contact list. If you are selling products with a long shelf life or a one time purchase tye of product your sales will suffer unless you are constantly adding new products/services.

3. Length of time on site – If people aren’t staying on your site then either you aren’t attracting the right visitors or you aren’t giving them what they want or expect when they arrive.

4. Number of pages viewed – Your goal is to have people stay on your site long enough for them to take some sort of action, either sign up for your ezine, buy something, contact you or plan a trip to your store. The more pages you can entice people to view, the better the chance you have of getting them to do what you want them to.

5. Pages most viewed – This tells you which pages people find most interesting on your website. You have an opportunity to create more pages on this same topic and provide additional information or sell more products of the same type or just add to the content on that page to increase traffic. You may decide to create a whole new site on this topic alone. Is there something different about the design or layout of these pages that is more appealing than the other pages on your site?

If pages you think should be popular aren’t, you’ll also see that here. You can then research to see if that topic/product is not as popular as you thought or if the text on the page, keywords, design, organization of the page needs to be changed. Maybe there are errors on the page and you need to run it though some of the free online assessment tools such as http://validator.w3.org/checklink, or have your webmaster run it through the free Google webmaster tools.

6. Entry pages – Every page on your website is a doorway in to the site. Top entry pages indicate that either traffic is being is referred to that page, or the page is coming up on natural search due to the subject, keywords/phrases on the page.

7. Exit Pages – If the majority of your traffic is leaving when it hits a certain page then it’s time to revisit that page to see what you can change to stop that from happening.

8. Visitor Path – Some stats packages will let you track where someone goes once they land on a website. This is a good indication of what is catching their attention on the page and the site and is another opportunity to give visitors more of what they want.

9. Top Keywords & phrases – It’s important to find keywords/phrases that have good search numbers and not too much competition but it can be a difficult task. Placing keyword in close proximity in the order people use them when searching can also positively impact your natural search results. This tool tells you which words people are searching for when they find your site. If they are only finding you by your business name you know that it’s your offline marketing that is driving traffic to your site and it’s an opportunity to do some optimizing work on your site and add new keywords/phrases to expand your results.

10. Top referrals – This is where you find out who is sending traffic to your website. Links to your site are important and more so if they come from a site that is an authority site (an educational site for example) or a site with a high Google page rank (download the Google toolbar free http://www.google.com/tools/firefox/toolbar/FT3/intl/en/index.html ) . It’s also important to get links from sites that have synergy with your business, businesses that would typically send you customers in the offline world.

If you have a page on a social networking site you can see if people are clicking through to your website to find out more.

11.Top robots – Robots or spiders are sent out by search engines to scan website for new content, check to see a site is still online, index it in their search results, rank it and collect data.If you are adding new content on a regular basis and/or have high traffic to the site the search engines will visit more often which allows your new content to come up on search soon after you post it.

12. Search engines – This lets you see which search engines visit the site and how often they visit. Do a search for engines other than the ones that already visit your site and submit your site to them to be crawled.

So what do “hits” mean and how is it relevant to the traffic volume of your web site.

The short answer is it’s not.

Hits are the number of files downloaded when someone views a webpage and can also include a spider’s visit to the page. Although the page may seem to be one download, it’s not; each piece of code relating to design style, a photo, a link, and a button is a hit so one view by a visitor may result in 15 to 45 hits or more making it irrelevant in quantifying the traffic your website receives.

For example a new website may receive an average of 650 visitors a month, 1670 page views and 8400 hits.

What does all of this mean?

If you are serious about doing business or attracting business on the web it’s important to understand what your prospective customers are looking for and if you are giving it to them. You don’t have to wonder or guess if you take the time to look at your statistics and find out the metrics your statistics package is set to report on.

When you have a website you’re open 24/7.(and it’s not costing you to be open)

You are there whenever your prospects want information or to shop for the products and services you sell.

So tell me, “How much is a website worth to your business?” and “What can you to increase that value?”

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