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Web Analytics 101 – Learn Which Analytics Data You Should be Using


If you are running a small website, chances are you’ve already heard of Web Analytics. If you haven’t, it is a tool for measuring traffic of your website. It provides data on the number of visitors, page views etc to gauge the popularity of the site.

For many people, using analytics is limited to watching how many more visitors have come to the site, and repeating the figures to potential advertisers. If used smartly, analytics is also a marketing tool, an e-commerce tracker, an ad tool, and the list goes on. In this article, we’ll have a look at basic ways to use the analytics.

Choosing an Analytics Software

First of all, you need to have an analytics software set up for your website, which mostly means signing up for an account of an analytics provider, and adding a few lines of javascript code to your pages. Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics tool. It’s also free and integrating it in a WordPress site is just a matter of adding a plugin to your site! If you like to have choices, you can search the Internet looking for some other alternative solutions. This article lists a number of analytics software and their pros and cons.

Keep your eye on the Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the number of people that after arriving on your website, don’t browse any other pages and leave. It’s generally expressed as a percentage of total visitors. The top reasons for having high bounce rates are:

  1. Uninteresting Content
  2. Broken Links
  3. Erroneous Pages
  4. Badly targeted Ads

The analytics tool can help identifying the pages that have high bounce rates and open your eyes to problems that you haven’t detected before.

Check your Conversion Rate

If your site has a clear goal, then you must have at least one goal page. For an e-commerce site it’s normally a completed check out page. For social website like Twitter and Facebook, it’s the page where the visitor completes the sign up process. The conversion rate is percentage of the amount of people that are just not getting to your goal pages but also carrying out the action you want them to do. Conversion rates are usually low. For an e-commerce site, even a 3% is considered a good conversion rate! The rule of thumb is to set up a clear path(a sequence of clicks and page views) to your goal page. You can have the analytics tool set up funnels to figure out where they are falling off. Once that problem is fixed you need to look at where people are going after conversion. Are they staying on or exiting? If they are exiting, why so?

Track visitors to Target pages

Target pages may appear similar to goal pages but have differfuent values. If the checkout completion form is the goal page of your e-commerce site, the product pages are the target pages. These pages are the first major step to goal completion. After all, the visitors need to see the product page before they go on to shop for the products. Use your analytics tool to find out how many visitors are going to your target pages and what percentage of them are going to goal pages from these pages. If the rate is low you might need to present your target pages in a more engaging manner.

Site Search Analytics

Tracking site search is a highly valuable resource for finding out what your visitors are looking for. Are they able to arrive at the page they are looking for? If not, there’s clearly a problem with your site search engine. It may not be returning the results it should be returning, or worse, it isn’t displaying the results in a useful way your visitors can understand. Also, if they search for something you don’t have, you might want them to redirect to alternative pages. Obviously, if your site sell books, there’s no need to provide alternatives to a guy who is looking for golf clubs in your site! It doesn’t make sense. But if he’s searching for a particular book of his favorite author and it’s not there, you should suggest him other books of the same author or of the same theme.

Track where visitors are coming from

Probably the easiest way to find out if the link building and ads on the site are working, is to see where your visitors are coming from. It makes sense that you keep track of where you get the most returns to make a wise decision of where to focus your efforts. A properly set-up analytics account integrated with eCommerce tracking and Adwords accounts can even show you a direct return on investment for your individual Adword campaigns; a very useful tool for managing your pay per click ads.

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