One area that we are constantly receiving questions about from our clients is what they should be looking at when reviewing their web statistics data. The most common metric website owners look at is the number of people that came to their website, but their is so much more that can be discovered if you know what to look for and what the data means.
Right now, I want to talk about 3 pieces of gold that will help you know what is bringing in the traffic, where and who your greatest supporters are, and what your visitors think about your website overall.
These 3 pieces of gold actually come from 3 sets of metrics, which are:
- The overall site usage statistics
- The list and data for your most visited pages
- The list and data for your traffic sources
Site Usage Statistics
The site usage statistics is actually a grouping of multiple data points that when combined, give you a clear understanding of what website visitors think about your website. When analyzed, you can quickly determine what visitors think about your website (could be a combination of performance, aesthetics, or content,) how long you have captured the attention of your visitors, and if your traffic building programs are working.
This grouping consists of the following:
- Visitors/Unique Visitors (otherwise known as hits and visits)
The visitors/hits data point tells you the number of times your website was viewed during a specific time period and includes multiple visits from the same individual. The unique visitors/visits data point tells you how many actual people came to your website.What’s the gold?
Watch the ratio of unique visitors to visitors (or number of visits to hits depending on the terms used.) If you see that the number of visitors/hits keeps growing proportionally to the number of unique visitors/visits then you know that something on your website is causing a lot of individuals to keep coming back to your website over and over again. This is awesome because each visit is another opportunity to convert the visitor to a customer. So if these two numbers are very close to being equal, then apparently there is not much of value or nothing that is causing visitors to return to your website after their initial visit. So they came… they left… and they never returned during that time period.
- Pages per visit
This data point shows you on average how many pages a visitor looks at before leaving your website. To understand the importance and value of this data, you need to know how many active pages are currently in operation on your website. With this, you will know how powerful your content is.What’s the gold?
If this number is low, then your visitors are not looking at much of your content before they are deciding to leave. This means they’re either not finding what they are looking for, they did find the information they were looking for but it didn’t cause them to engage you, or maybe they were just glancing around your website. You want this number to be proportionally high to the full number of pages on your site. If it is, it would tell you that your content has enough appeal and value that your visitors click through quite a bit of it before they leave. So out of a 10 page web site, you would love for them to read 6 or more pages. If this isn’t happening… it’s time to review your content!
- Bounce rate
This data point shows you the number of times people came to your website and left from the same page they arrived on. This essentially means that they did not look any further than the page they landed on. This can easily be a metric that is looked at negatively since for the majority of websites, it is a high percentage. For us, it tells us if our inbound marketing strategy is working!What’s the gold?
If this number is extremely high when compaired to the number of visitors (the percentage is 80% or higher,) you know immediately something is wrong with the website and you need to make some emergency changes. People are telling you that either they can’t figure out how to access the rest of your pages, whatever they’re reading is not what they’re looking for, or something is completely turning them off about your website (potentially offensive material.)
If this number is slightly high, then it may mean that visitors are not finding what they are looking for on the page they arrived on. This could mean that your inbound marketing strategy has some flaws in it. For example, the links that show up in the search engine results or on your online marketing ads are pointing to a page that is not converting visitors. So does it have the right content? If you are paying to send traffic here… you’re wasting money! Cut off the spending and fix the page first!
If this number is low (say below 40%) then it means that on average, your visitors are at least looking around your website a bit before leaving. This is a pretty good metric and is about the average.
What’s the overall gold?
The combined gold of the site usage statistics is that you can immediately determine the overall performance of your website, knowing how many visitors come, how long they stay, and what they think about your website overall. Consider this a quick snapshot of the overall health and growth of your website.
Your Most Visited Pages
The statistics that make up the most visited pages listings focus on the content of your website and can include data points such as how many of your site visitors viewed that page, how long they stayed on that page, what page did they come from and what page did they go to next.
What’s the gold?
This list shows you what content on your website attracts the most eyes to it. So if you see certain pages attract the most visitors, you would want to build on that content to include more like it or change other pages to mimic its layout, its wording, and its structure to help increase the page views of all your pages. This may also identify the content that is the most important to your visitors, so you would want to be sure to make this content even easier to find, access, and read.
Your Traffic Sources
This statistic helps determine the reach of your website. It helps you understand where the majority of your visitors are coming from. It is typically broken down into three categories: direct traffic, referring sites, and search engines. Direct traffic means that they entered your web address directly into their web browser address bar, referring sites are all sites that have a link to your website somewhere on their pages, and search engines obviously lists traffic that came from the different search engines.
What’s the gold?
This statistic tells you who knows about your website, how they are getting there, and where you need to improve in order to get more traffic. If the bulk of your traffic is coming from search engines, then you are potentially missing out on additional traffic that could come from other websites that link to you. It also means that your offline activities (marketing, advertising, networking, etc.) is not causing anyone to come directly to your website. Ideally, you would like all three to be equal, but it’s not likely. Most traffic comes from search engines, but there is great benefit in having other websites link to you (as they could be a source of your greatest fans) and having a large amount of direct traffic is a clear indication that your offline marketing activities are doing well at bringing traffic to your website. So work on these two sources just as much as you would want to have the #1 spot on Google!
Where do you find gold?
What about you? Where do you find gold nuggets of information in your web statistics? Share with us below in the comments!