You have probably heard the term “web analytics” bandied about, but you might be unsure about what it means and how it can help your website, no matter what industry you are in. If you are unclear about web analytics and want to learn everything you need to know, read ahead, because this article is for you.

What are web analytics?

Simply put, web analytics are the measurements that analyse how your site is performing on the internet, information that can then be used to assess your site and optimise it for the future.

Your site analytics can provide data on:

  • The demographics of the people who visit your site.
  • How they got to your site (i.e. did they come from an external link on someone else’s site, a Google search or by typing your web address directly into the search bar.
  • What they did once they were on your site, and the order in which they navigated your different pages.
  • How much time in total did they spend on your site?
  • Where they went after visiting your website. Did they follow one of your internal links?

What applications can you use to attain your web analytics?

There are countless different applications and tools that you can use that will help you assess how your site is performing. Some of the best options out there include:

  • Google analytics – One of the best options is the most obvious. Google Analytics offers a whole suite of online performance trackers that help you understand your users’ behaviour and optimise the way that you relate to them. In their own words, “the Google Analytics 360 Suite delivers the customer and advertising insights you need to set your marketing strategy, drive sales, and ultimately outperform the competition.”
  • Crazy Egg Crazy Egg is a useful tool that enables you to create a ‘heat map’ that tracks your users’ clicks in order to see exactly how they interact with your website. This helps you to assess your site’s usability and make any necessary changes to increase your average user’s experience when on your page.
  • Kissinsights from Kiss Metrics – Kissinsights provides businesses with the ability to install a Javascript plugin that will instantly ask your website’s users a series of simple questions and ask for valuable feedback. You can choose exactly which questions you would like to ask your site visitors, and review the answers in order to learn about how they experience your website.

What information do web analytics applications usually provide?

Web analytics tools can provide you with truly valuable insights, not only about your own website, but also about the people who visit your site.

This can include (but is not limited to):

Campaign Data

  • The specific campaigns that were most successful in driving users to your site.
  • All of the domains that referred your site’s traffic
  • The keywords that people used in order to find your site

Your Audience

  • The number of visits that you have had to your site
  • Demographic information about your users, including the countries in which they are located
  • Whether your visitors are new or returning users
  • The browser they are using to access your site, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or other options

Other Audience Metrics

  • Which page on your website visitors landed on, and which page they exited from (i.e. your homepage, About Us, a specific product or FAQs)
  • Which of your pages are the most popular
  • The amount of time that each of your visitors spent on your site

When you are reviewing the information gleaned from your website analytics, you may find that some terms are used that you are not familiar with – click here for some of the most commonly used terms and their definitions.

You have the analytics information – now what?

Once you begin to examine the analytics reports about your website, you may feel that the sheer volume of information you are provided with is overwhelming. Indeed, trying to make sense of this vast quantity of data all at once is almost impossible – you should instead ensure that you have decided the goal of your enquiry before you start your examination by setting out clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This will help you to get the most from your data.

The metrics that you choose to prioritise will depend on what you hope to improve about your site at this time – engagement, length of time spent on a specific page, the actual number of visitors or which links users choose to follow (if any) from your site.

Once you have decided which metrics are most important to track at this time, you can easily set up a series of scheduled reports to be emailed to you on a regular basis. These emails can remind you to check your analytics, assess new developments and make changes when necessary.

Analytics – Always Important to your Success

As you can see from the information above, tracking your website’s performance is easier than you think – but this should not make you underestimate its importance.

Once you understand your visitors’ online behaviour you are then able to change your site in order to optimise your success. This data can help you make educated and calculated changes to your website based on accurate and actual data – this prevents you from making wild guesses and changes the things you think might make a difference.

Assessing your analytics will also help you choose advertising and promotion techniques that are most suited to your site. Based on this data, you can see how many users are being driven to your site by any advertising campaigns you have done, and ensure that these users are members of your ideal audience.

In addition, analytics are also a simple way to track any broken links or faulty code on your site. They can help you notice a 100% decline in customers to a certain part of your page, alerting you that a page is down and giving you an opportunity to fix it before too many sales are lost.

Don’t delay – start tracking your analytics today.

Written by Anna Lemos