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November 28, 2007

Statistics And Your Website

Web analytics has been around for a long time but only in the last few years has it grown to provide data more useful to online shops and websites. The basic web analytics services were based off log files, and this service usually came packaged along with your hosting server. It simply worked by tracking each action conducted on your website as a hit and then converted this data into reports. In the following years it moved on from using log files to using transparent images to track the visitors directly. This opened a whole new line of data for web entrepreneurs to use their arsenal for better web promotion.
WHY TRACK?

The simplest answer would be to improve on your website’s purpose. But this is only possible if you correctly use the statistical information you have collected on your visitors. A basic analytics program would tell you six things:

1. NUMBER OF VISITORS
To see growth and also better understand your visitors and fluctuation of traffic on a hourly, daily and monthly basis. This helps better sell your advertising space once you have an idea of the exposure your website has.

2. PAGE VIEWS
Find out how many impressions you have and if visitors see more than a single page on your website before exiting. This would help pinpoint any webpages on your website that are not ‘sticky’ which you can then improve on.

3. ENTRY/EXIT
See which webpage your visitor entered from and where they left your website. Sometimes you would be able to see if certain webpages made your visitors felt lost or just didn’t display user-friendly navigation to allow them to move on to your target pages.

4. REFERRERS
Is your website positioned well in search engines or do you mainly receive traffic from other websites and banner advertising. Find your website’s strengths and weaknesses and see what needs to be done to improve overall.

5. SEARCH PHRASES
Sometimes visitors find your website using keywords you wouldn’t expect. One of the quickest ways to increase traffic to your website would be to find keywords your website is popular for and build more pages based around those words. It is difficult to sometimes tell why search engines choose your website as the source of information for a certain keyword but knowing it will help you capitalize on the situation and not waste your time and resources focusing on less frequently occurring keywords searches.

6. GEOGRAPHICAL / SYSTEM INFORMATION
This is a broad array of information covering where your visitor is located, his PC and browser information plus various other details that would help you better build your website to suit your public. A simple example would be that if most of your visitors are using Internet Explorer browser in 640×480 resolution then it would be very important your website look nice and usable at that settings.

NEW LINE: ECOMMERCE
As websites grew more complex and online shopping became a norm, web entrepreneurs needed more information to better server their shoppers. This gave light to a new list of statistical information that would prove very useful, mainly the following three:

1. REVENUE TRACKING
Is your traffic converting to sales? Which keyword do customers type in search engines that actually go on and convert to sales? Find out this and more to better target your products to customers.

2. CAMPAIGN TRACKING
Due to the competitive nature of online shopping, advertising is standard practice for ecommerce websites. Popular advertising services such as Google Adwords, Overture and MSN AdCenter allow websites to make quick sales with no downpayment, strictly on a per-click basis. But how do you know which advertising campaign has a good ROI. Collecting information on this helps you better decide where to invest your advertising dollar for maximum effectiveness.

3. CLICKPATHS
The main focus of ecommerce websites is to make the sale. Once your visitor has found the product they are put through a series of pages to make the purchase. Obviously you can’t guide them through the whole process in person but if you could see the path they had taken it would be as good. Find out where your customers get stuck, at which checkout step they decide to leave your website or look for your FAQs page. This information will make your website more user-friendly and in turn help you increase sales.

BOTTOM LINE
Statistics is a very important aspect of any website. It covers a wide gambit of points that website owners should be aware of in order to effectively optimize their website. This includes popularity i.e. website growth, advertising space value and maximizing conversion of sales. But this is all only useful if you know how to properly utilize it. Basic statistics is easy to understand for any beginner but if you run an ecommerce or high traffic website with valuable advertising space it is highly recommended you get in touch with a professional to guide you through how to read the reports and properly utilize the results.

Author:  As Internut’s Projects Director, Vinay Gorasia has successfully managed analytics campaigns for small start up to Fortune 500 companies. All solutions are custom designed to increase productivity of every website by providing relevant statistics. To find out more visit http://www.internut.com.my today.

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