No business owner should drive with a blindfold. But having no statistics for your website is equal to driving with a blindfold.
Yet, many website owners still do not have any analytics software installed on their websites. This is mostly due to ignorance – on their part or on the part of their web designers.
What should you use?
The most widely used analytics software is Google Analytics, a free statistics program that is installed in the code of a website. It records all activities on the website and sends it back to the Google servers, where the website owner can access it. Google Analytics gives any combination of information, depending on what parameters were chosen when it was set up.
A website owner needs to know how many people visited her site, how many visited once and how many visited multiple times, which information they were looking for that brought them to the website, where they came from and what they did on the website.
Google Analytics provide the website owner with information about:
- Visits – the number of times the website was visited
- Visitors – the number of people that visited the site
- Unique visitors – the number of people that visited the site once
- Page views – how many pages were seen by visitors
- Pages per visit – the average number of pages pages seen with each visit
- Average visit duration – how long people stayed on the website on average
- Bounce rate – a “bounce” occurs when someone visits the website and exits from the same page he entered on (mostly, but not necessarily – the home page)
- Percentage new visits – the percentage of people that visited the website for the first time (as a percentage of the total number of visitors)
- Keywords or search terms used to find the website
- How many people visited her site so she can ascertain whether her website draws enough people to create a potential market for her.
She needs to know what the profile of those visitors are so she knows whether they are in fact people that will buy from her business. It may happen that people search for something else and land up on her website because of the choice of words used on the site. Finding the right people for your website is the purpose of SEO.The website owner also needs to know:
- Which pages people visited so he knows which pages contain information that people are looking for,
- How long they stayed on a page, to know how interested they were,
- Whether they left without visiting other pages, which may indicate that they found what they were looking for or found something that do not interest them,
- How many new visitors there were, to know whether the website draws new interest and
- How many were return visitors, to be able to tell whether people return to the website to read more,
- From which country and city the visitors came, to know whether they were local or whether there may be a need to send products to areas where the business does not have an outlet.
There is a valuable tool in the Google Analytics arsenal. It is called “Visitors Flow” and it shows how site visitors moved through the website and where they left or “dropped off”.This information is valuable in ascertaining which pages “lose” visitors, which attract the most visitors and how the visitors moved through the site. Visitors flow enables the website owner to know how people behaved on his site, which in turn can provide valuable information about the strengths and weaknesses of the website.
Google Analytics provides information about which sources sent visitors to the site – whether they found a link to the website on a search engine, were sent direct (such as when they already have the web address), whether they were referred traffic, or came from one of the social media platforms.
In the Google Analytics dashboard, where all the information is provided, the website owner can access information about the audience of the website. It includes:
- an overview demographics interests geographical location technology used
- whether they came from mobile devices
- what keywords they used to find the website
- which other websites sent visitors to the site
- information about search engine optimisation including which pages were landing pages where people “landed on” when they entered the website.
Lastly, Google Analytics offers real time information. It reflects what is happening on the website in real time and includes an overview, locations where people came from, traffic sources, which pages they are visiting and information which the webmaster may have set up to gather additional information.
No website should be without an information gathering function, and website owners should insist on it being installed on their websites.
How else will they know where their websites are taking their business?