14 Nov, 2008 in Analytics by

Website Analytics for Beginners

Once your website is constructed, optimized for search, and launched, you next want to be sure to know how to gauge incoming traffic

How many people are visiting your site daily, where are they coming from, and what are they doing once they are on your site? Do people linger as they visit, or pop on and jump off immediately? Are they finding you via Google, or coming to you from other sources? Moreover, as you collect results on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, what can you do to increase your numbers, and consequently sales of your book?

In my experience assisting website owners with search engine optimization, I know it is not unusual for some people to be eager, almost anal, about website statistics

Some people check them daily, and perhaps panic when a day yields half the visits than normal

Some days might show a spike in traffic, which leads to a scramble to figure out what was so special about that day that brought so many visitors

Where design, content, and optimization play important roles in building a website, statistics are also important as they can assist you in adjusting your site to increase traffic

If your website is hosted by a specific company, chances are you already have the ability to view stats

If you use a free host that only offers such benefits as a premium, you may have to install a free program to help you track the numbers

No matter how you do it, it is necessary to know what statistics to look for and what they mean

Here is just a short list of things to look for as you study your site’s incoming traffic

Hits – In checking daily or monthly totals in your statistics program, you may notice a section called “Hits

” Depending upon your site’s activity, the number of hits to your site may be quite large, but don’t get too excited yet

You may see some websites brag about getting thousands of hits daily or monthly, but this statistic doesn’t necessarily refer to actual site visits

Here’s why:

Take a look at any webpage, and what do you see? Most often, you will see a page of content, maybe a few pictures, maybe an inline video or other Flash animation

On the outset, the page looks like one file, but in actuality it could be severals files come together to create the page

When you visit this page, every single element displayed is counted as a site hit

An HTML file with five pictures will count as six hits – one for each JPG or GIF file, one for the HTML

So you see, this number can be misleading in terms of overall site traffic and popularity

It may be a good number to know as you track, but other statistics will provide a clearer view

Page Views – Page views refer to the number of webpages overall visited on your site

Say you have five webpages total on your site – a main page, three pages for three books, and a contact page

In the course of a month, you find that your site generated 600 page views

This means that the five pages of your site were collectively visited for a total of 600 times

Now, if your statistic program is more advanced and allows to see more detailed results, you can determine which pages were visited most often

If, for example, 400 people visited the front page, and the remaining 200 were divided among the others, you may think you need to optimize the other pages to get traffic

Possible, but you should also consider an overhaul to the front page

When you think how the number decreases as people move deeper into your site, it is possible that the content on the front page is not compelling enough to encourage visitors to click deeper

Another statistic, Views Per Visit, can better help you determine how many people are digging deeply into your site as opposed to jumping off for various reasons

Visitors/Unique Visitors – These are actually two different statistics

Where Visitors refers to the number of overall visitors to your site in a given period, Unique Visitors tallies the actual number of individuals who come to your site

Say in a month your site brought 400 visits overall, and of those 100 were unique visitors

This means that 100 people made multiple stops to your site that account for your total visits

It is handy to track the number of unique visitors that come to your site, as it can help determine the site’s general exposure in search and other web resources

The more unique visitors means more individual people are coming to see about your books

Referrals – Naturally this is an important one to know

Referrals are the actual links or URLs from which people are coming to your site

They may be links from search results in Google or Yahoo, links from your publisher or book reviews, or links from other sites that have information on your site and work

The more varied the list of URLs is lets you know of your rising link popularity, while the gradual charting of numbers from search URLs can help you indicate your rising or decreasing exposure in search

Average Site Visit – More advanced statistics programs may offer statistics on the length of individual visits to your site

This is a good one to watch to determine the “stickiness factor,” of your site – the longer a person remains, the better

If you find your average visit length is thirty second or less, you may wish to consider looking into how to improve your site to keep people on longer

Can you add more text or graphic content, more incentives for people to stay?

Statistic Programs

Depending upon your hosting program, you may have a built-in stats program that lets you view the above and more

Some may come with a specific package, while more advanced programs require fees

If you do not have a built-in access or cannot translate the information, you want to consider a third-party software

Some may require you to place code on each page you wish to track, but for many the code will not compromise the design

Once you do figure out how to read the program of your choice, do more than just read the information

Learn where your visitors goes, how long they stay, and adjust your site accordingly to bring in more traffic

After each update, study your stats again for major changes

For many visitors, this is likely the only exposure to your books they will have, use the stats to help determine how to keep them coming to your site

– Ciniva Web Agency

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