Mining for Gold Using Web Site Statistics to Drive Traffic to Your Site Do you know your vital statistics? Not your height, weight and blood pressure I’m talking about the health of your business your vital web statistics.
Web site statistics or historical usage information about your web site help you figure out how to drive more traffic to the most important pages of your web site. Suppose, for example, that you want to grow your number of online sales leads or increase page views for a certain promotion. The only way to gauge your success is to measure it and web site statistics help you accomplish this. Web site statistics are collated and analyzed by web-based software called “web analytics tools.”
Web analytics tools collect data on web site users’ behavior. Almost every web host includes some kind of web analytics in the cost of your hosting fee. This software sits on the web server and allows you to view online reports about site activity. Some common “free” web analytics tools include Analog, Webalizer, SiteMeter and AWStats.
The Big Guys
If you host your own web site, you may have purchased a more robust analytics tool, such as WebTrends (www.webtrends.com), Netsuite NetCommerce Analytics (www.netsuite.com) or HBX Analytics by WebSideStory (www.websidestory.com). These applications are high-end and may be just the ticket if you own a busy e-commerce site or run sophisticated web marketing programs.
Panning for Gold
Web statistics offer a goldmine of information that indicates exactly how well your web site is or is not performing. Unlike print advertising or public relations or marketing collateral, your web site’s marketing performance is surprisingly easy to measure because almost all site activity is recorded and displayed using web analytics tools.
Information at Your Fingertips
So what kind of information is lurking in these statistics? Believe it or not, web analytics software methodically archives tons of data about your customers. You can tell how many customers are visiting and how many are leaving right away. You can tell which hour of the day or night is busiest. You can even tell which countries your visitors come from.
Here is some additional information you can easily gain by checking your web statistics:
High-end web analytics tools, such as WebTrends or Netsuite NetCommerce Analytics, offer more information and many more bells and whistles, however, it’s best to decide on the kind of data you need to analyze before upgrading to a more expensive site tracking option.
- Number of unique visitors, number of site visits and number of page hits
- The most and least popular pages on your site and the amount of time spent on each page
- Times of most and least activity, broken out by the day, month and year
- Search engines used to find your site
- Types of operating systems and browsers used by visitors
- The method visitors used to find your site via keyword search using a search engine or by directly typing in the URL
- Specific keywords and phrases searched to find your site
What to Do With It All
So what can you accomplish with all this information? You can track the amount of activity on your site to determine whether or not you are successfully marketing your web site. For example, if you run an advertising campaign and wish to track its effectiveness, use a call to action in the ad to push readers to a dedicated web page. Then check your web stats to see how many people actually visited the web page after viewing the ad.
Use the time tracking feature to understand when most of your traffic occurs. If you have an e-commerce site, for example, and you notice low site views during the summertime, target those months to launch a special promotion to increase site activity and boost online sales.
Increase Search Engine Traffic
Search engine information is especially valuable to companies involved in online marketing. Check the effectiveness of search engine marketing campaigns, for example, by noting the number of referrals you receive from Google. Or if you notice that a certain search engine is absent from these reports, re-register your URL with that engine to increase traffic.
Keywords and keyword phrases are especially relevant to better understand how people find your site online. If you are selling red widgits, for example, use your site stats to see if the customers who land on your site are actually searching for “red widgits.” If that search phrase isn’t recorded, it may indicate you do not have enough keyword rich page content about red widgits on your site. By adding a dedicated web page about red widgits and carefully optimizing the page content and meta tags, you increase the chance that someone searching on “red widgits” will find your site.
Improve the User Experience
Browser compatibility is also valuable information. If you see, for example, that 45% of your site viewers are using the Firefox browser, make sure your page designs are optimized for that browser type.
Your Secret Weapon
The most common mistake when it comes to web analytics is ignoring the information right under your nose. Most web site owners never take even a few minutes a month to check site stats and see how their web site is truly performing. Web site statistics should be a critical first step in setting online marketing objectives and in measuring their success. By regularly viewing this easily available user information, you will gain valuable insight that will really drive your business.
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