February 01, 2006Volume 5 Number 05 Issue 92
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Analyzing Web Site Traffic

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Analyzing Web Site Traffic

I am going to discuss why and how to Analyze Web Site Traffic today. How valuable is your web site traffic?

Analyzing your web traffic statistics can be an invaluable tool for a number of different reasons. But before you can make full use of this tool, you need to understand how to interpret the data.

My web hosting company, probably much like your own, provides basic web traffic information that you and I then have to interpret and apply to our site. However, the data you receive from your hosting company can be overwhelming if you don't understand how to apply it to your particular business and web site. Let's start by examining the most basic data - the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

The average visitors figures are the most accurate measure of your web site's activity. To the uninformed person, it would appear on the surface that the more traffic you see recorded, the better you can assume your web site is doing. This would be a very large mistake. You must also look at the behaviour of your visitors once they come to your web site to really understand the effectiveness of your site.

Hits and Visits

There is often a great misconception about what is commonly known as "hits" and what is really effective, quality traffic to your site. Hits simply means the number of information requests received by the server. If you think about the fact that a hit usually equates to the number of graphics per page, you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can be. For example, if your web page has 15 graphics on it, the server records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talking about a single visitor checking out a single page on your site. As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your web site traffic. Visits, however can give you a much more accurate picture of the traffic to your site.

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The more visitors that come to your web site, the more accurate your interpretation will become. The greater the level of traffic is to your web site, the more precise your analysis will be of overall trends in visitor behaviour. The smaller the number of visitors, the more a few oddball visitors can distort your analysis.

Why Use Web Traffic Statistics?

Your aim should be to use the web traffic statistics to figure out how well or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. One way to determine this is to find out how long an average visitor spends on your site. If the time spent is relatively brief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. The challenge is to figure out what that problem is, and how to remedy it.

It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type of visitor to your web site, or that your graphics are confusing or intimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use the knowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site to pinpoint specific problems, and after you fix those problems, continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fix has been.

Additionally, web traffic stats can help you determine effective and ineffective areas of your web site. If you have a page that you believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, that page needs attention. You could, for example, consider improving the link to this page by making the link more noticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of the page or the ease with which your visitors can access the necessary information on that page.

If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending a lot of time on pages that you think are less important, you might consider moving some of your sales copy and marketing focus to those particular pages.

As you can see, web statistics can reveal vital information about the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habits and motivation. This is essential information to any successful Internet marketing campaign.

Exit Pages

Your web site undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final order or contact form. This is a page you can expect your visitor to exit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is going to find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics may show you a number of different exit pages. This is normal unless you notice an exit trend on a particular page that is not intended as an exit page. If a significant percentage of visitors are exiting your web site on a page not designed for that purpose, you must closely examine that particular page to find out what the problem is. Once you pinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor changes in content or graphic may have a real impact on the keeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting at the wrong page.

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Keywords and Phrases

After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, it's time to turn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywords are directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The more targeted the visitors - meaning that they find what they are looking for on your site, and even better, fill out your contact form or make a purchase - the more valuable that keyword is.

However, if you find a large number of visitors are being directed - or should I say misdirected - to your site by a particular keyword or phrase, that keyword must be changed. Keywords are a vital link in bringing to your site quality visitors who are ready to do business with you. Close analysis of the keywords your visitors are using to find your site will give you a vital understanding of your visitor's needs and motivations.

Finally, if you notice that users are finding your web site by typing in your company name, break open the champagne! It means you have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, and this is a sure sign of significant success.

Talk to you soon!

warmly,
Jim Green

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