Download: Finger On The Pulse: Web Analytics
Whenever we are involved in an activity, there are phases that we go through. With each moment we make headway, and can see for ourselves, how far we have come. Looking back and measuring progress allows us to gauge the level of success in that particular task.
I have found it essential over the years, to always measure my progress, to have a yardstick on how far I have come. I call this putting a finger on the pulse. Doing so has several advantages, and you can do well to incorporate the habit of measurement into your activities.
One of the activities that is well suited for the habit of measurement is managing a website. Websites are well suited for the act of taking measurements, because the technology makes it easy to readily do so. Another great thing about measuring website activity, is that the process can be completely automated.
In order to measure something adequately, it is important to understand the units of measure. One important measure for a website is website traffic. Website traffic is analysed in order to gain insights about the visitors of that particular website.
For example, website traffic can be analysed in order to determine if a certain marketing campaign is delivering the desired results. In another case, website traffic may be used to gauge the popularity of a business.
By analysing the interaction and website traffic patterns on a website, a website owner can gain insight into the type and nature of website visitors, which in turn drives strategy formulation. Strategy that is based on actual data is more likely to have a positive impact on the business than strategy formulated without data as a basis.
There are many metrics that a website owner can focus on, when measuring traffic interactions on a website. Web metrics refer to the specific attributes of recording and interpreting website analytics. The major metrics can be divided into three major groupings: Audience, Acquisition and Site Content.
Audience metrics deal with analysis of data that provide more insight into the website visitor and involve elements such as page views, bounce rate, pages per session, demographic information, and device types.
Page views measure the number of pages that are viewed by visitors over a given period, whilst the bounce rate indicates the number of website visitors that do not meaningfully engage with a webpage before leaving.
Pages per session is about the number of pages that a unique visitor visits on the website during a single site visit. There is often a distinguishing criteria called unique visits, to distinguish repeat visits from total number of visits. Demographic information provides data on visitors such as location.
The device being used by the visitor is also an interesting metric, as it is possible to tailor experiences based on the device being used.
Acquisition metrics are concerned with understanding the nature and source of website traffic. These include considerations such as organic search traffic, social traffic, referral traffic and direct traffic.
Organic Search Traffic, refers to traffic coming from search engines that is not paid for. You might want to know how much traffic search engines are bringing to the website in order to better carry out Search Engine Optimization.
The Social Traffic metrics indicate which social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, are bringing in website traffic. This is an important metric as social media has taken off in a big way in recent times.
Sometimes website visitors will come to a website by clicking a link on another website, this is referral traffic. It is important to have other websites link to your website, as this means more traffic and also good search engine rankings.
Direct traffic on the other hand is simply traffic arising from people putting in your website address in the browser.
Site content is all the material that goes on a website for the consumption of site visitors. Content is the reason that people visit the website in the first place.
Landing pages are a critical part of a website, since they are the starting point of interaction with a website. Before the prominence of search engines, it used to be that the landing page was most likely the home page, but this has now changed as it is possible for visitors to be directed by search engines to land directly pages deeper within a website. By noting the popular landing pages, a website owner can incorporate the insights into an effective strategy.
Speed is another crucial site content metric. After all, people are guaranteed to leave a website that is too slow and taking too long to load. By measuring page loading times, a website can be better optimised.
Every trade has its tools and web analytics is no different. Whilst there may be several tools out there to use to measure website metrics, very few, if not none, can beat Google Analytics. It is free and does an amazing job of tracking website metrics.
Google analytics works when the website owner creates an analytics account with Google and creates a property for the website. After this is done, Google Analytics generates a small piece of code which is embedded into the site to be tracked.
Google Analytics has a lot of metrics on which to focus, including great clean graphs and charts. There is even a real-time metric where website traffic can be analysed as it happens.
Impatience is a trait that most of us suffer from. For keeping your finger on the pulse, you have to be willing to play the long game. You have to be prepared to analyse data and do it over a long period of time and tweak your website accordingly.
You can learn to do all this yourself or you can hire a developer to assist your or do it for you. After all, that is what Web analytics is all about: finding the trends within the data that will ultimately drive strategy.
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