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Deciphering Web Analytics

By Matt Jackson (c) 2007

Want to optimize your online sales? Improve your understanding of your target market demographics? Need to improve your marketing ROI? What right minded webmaster or online entrepreneur doesn't, right?

Your web analytics are your gateway to measurable success and provide a lot more information than most people give them acknowledgment for. Yes, they track the number of visitors you receive and indicate your most and least popular pages. However, they also guide you towards your best performing keywords, the countries that provide you with the most active visitors, and essentially provide you with a blueprint of the exact steps each visitor takes on your website.

Armed with this kind of information you should be able to improve the overall perförmance of your website and your online business. You can also improve your marketing efforts, enabling you to concentrate on the more effective, and ignore the least effective.

Keywords, Search Engines, And Popular Landing Pages

For many sites, the search engine is the leading producer of traffíc. An SEO campaign can produce excellent levels of highly qualified leads with comparatively little spend. The key to a good SEO campaign, though, is to continue the optimization process.

Good analytics packages provide detailed information that is vital to your SEO campaign. You can view a líst of the keywords that visitors have used in order to find your site. This information can be used to identify those keywords that are providing the most traffíc and any that can be improved upon.

By reading the referrer of each visitor it is also possible for most analytic programs to determine the search engine that directed visitors to your site. Again, it is possible to use this information in order to improve your optimization efforts, with a little online research.

Landing Pages And Referrer Pages

A good avenue of pertinent information is the líst of landing pages and referrer pages. The landing page is simply the page that a visitor first lands on when they reach your site, while the referrer is the page that directed them to your site.

Don't be fooled into thinking that all of your traffíc emerges on your home page. At least, for most websites this shouldn't be the case. Each page on your site is a potential source of search engine traffíc, and if you have well categorized pages then PPC campaigns should also be page dependent.

Alternatively, if you use any kind of advertising, it will pay to keep track of how each campaign performs. The referrer statistics will help you determine this very fact. If you have links all over the Internet, then this can point you to the more beneficial of those links so that you can attempt to gain more, similar ones.

Visitor Experience

How your visitors reach your site shouldn't be your sole fascination. Once a person reaches the fold of your domain, you should attempt to learn whether they had a positive experience, and, if not, then why not. Fortunately, web analytics typically provide some very good statistics to help you with this.

Visitor and page load statistics. Whenever a page is loaded in a browser it is logged as a page load. However, any single individual can open numerous pages or may even open the same page numerous times. The unique visitor figure is the number of individual people that have accessed your site.

Visitor paths. You can track the actions of a visitor from the landing page to the exit page. This includes every page they visit in between, the amount of time they spend on each page, whether they make a purchase or click any links while on those pages, and more. This information is crucial to determining any problem areas on your site. If a particular page is leading to a lot of people exiting your site, then address it immediately. These statistics can also provide you with hot spots you weren't previously aware of.

Translating The Results

Translating the results need not be any more complicated than actually reading them. Doing so, though, can seriously improve your profits. Here are a few guidelines that can be used when next viewing your analytics.

Lots of Visitors But No Conversions
A lot of people place too much emphasis on driving traffíc to their site, and not enough emphasis on actually converting those visitors to customers. If you find that the pages of your site are frequently being visited, but surfers are leaving without becoming customers then you need to take action quickly. Typically, your site content may need improvement or the traffíc you are gaining is not targeted to the topic of your website. Look at visit lengths and paths to determine which is the case for you.

Visitors are Leaving From a Specific Page
Again, this can usually be combated with improved content on that page. If the content of an individual page is poor, but the rest of your site is good, then you will usually see that your visitors are navigating happily around your site until they reach this one page. Look for broken links, inappropriate content, or just poorly written content.

Traffic From a Specific Source is Particularly Inactive
If you look at your referrer statistics and note that one source of traffíc is sending a lot of inactive visitors to your site there may be one or more explanations. Review where the visitors are being directed to and ensure that this page is well optimized for conversions. Also do some digging on the referrer's end. A banner or link placed on an irrelevant page is unlikely to yield the positive results you are looking for.

These are just some of the ways that analytics can help you and your website. Experiment and look for trends. Question anything that you notice until you find the most reasonable answer, and then take action accordingly.

About The Author
Article by Matt Jackson. WebWiseWords, website content that sells.


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