In an earlier article on how to read your website statistics reports we looked at the terminology of website statistics or webstats. In this article, we look at how webstats can give you greater insight into how visitors are using your website.
Being able to measure how people are using your website can highlight what’s working, what’s not and ultimately help you improve your site for a greater return on investment.
Path analysis or click path
Path analysis allows you to see how visitors are moving through your website; which pages they enter and exit by and which are the most common pathways through your site.
Do a lot of your visitors arrive on your home page and then not go any further? Or perhaps most don’t enter your site via the home page but instead arrive on a specific product or service page. It’s very useful to be able to monitor if visitors are finding the pages you want them to or taking the actions you want them to take, such as subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a product.
For example: Perhaps you are launching a new product and have placed ads on other websites or on Google Adwords. Hopefully you are directing people straight to the page about this new product and not to your home page. It will then be important to you to measure how many people are entering your website via this new page to judge the effectiveness of your copy and online advertising.
Measuring the amount of time visitors are spending on your website is also a very handy webstat. This helps you determine if visitors are taking a quick look, then leaving, or if they’re hanging around a bit longer and actually reading your material with the view to possibly taking action. If the majority of your visitors are not staying long, this is a red flag for you to review your site content and look at ways to attract and hold visitors’ attention.
Search engines, such as Google and DirectHit, also measure the amount of time visitors spend on your site and this contributes to where your site is placed in their rankings. For search engines, this measure is called Stickiness. It is calculated according to the time that elapses between a user clicking on your link on the search engine’s results page and returning to click on the next link in the search listing.
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Converting browsers to clients or customers is the name of the game. A conversion is when a visitor to your site takes a desired action. So, how do you track whether people are taking action?
If you have a fill-in enquiry form you could measure how many people visit this page compared to how many people fill it out. If lots of people are arriving on this page but not going any further, perhaps the form is too difficult to understand or requires too many details. Review your form and test the results once changes have been made.
If you have a shopping cart, or online ordering system, check how many people are visiting a product page, viewing details and even adding the product to the shopping cart but then not checking out. This can give you some clues into where you might need to simplify the ordering process.
Monthly History graphs allow you to review visitor data over time. This can help you identify your ability to attract visitors and grow your website traffic based on your promotional activities or seasonal factors in your industry. For example, nurseries and garden shops will generally see increased traffic during the spring and summer months.
Your overall aim should be to see a gain in visitors over time. These graphs allow you to compare this month to last month as well as June this year with June last year, to measure whether growth is being achieved.
Reviewing Days of the Month graphs may show patterns of usage. For example, a business related website generally has higher traffic during the week with less traffic over weekends and holidays. But leisure and entertainment sites may find the opposite.
Using webstats to measure the impact of changes
Lastly, think about monitoring these webstats before and after you make changes to your website to measure the impact of these changes. Ultimately you are aiming to increase traffic and sales over time, so tweak away and monitor results for continued improvement.