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Visitor Traffic Statistics 101, or, The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Web Analytics

As we all know, visitor traffic is crucial to the success of every Website. If you do not know how many views your pages get, how can you know if
anyone is seeing your site, product or service? With an online business, you can not afford to guess at how effective your marketing, content, message or website design is.

Ideally, you need to know what pages are viewed, how long the visitor stays
on any given page and what page they click to next. Also, if you can see the
keywords they used to search for you, or see what link they clicked to get to
your site (referral link), you have great information for SEO (search engine
optimization) of your site content and keywords. This is all part of Web
analytics. The more you know about site analytics, the better prepared you
will be to get the most out of your site traffic and visitor usage. Read
through these basics and you will be ready to go look for an effective visitor
traffic reporting service, find the best features for the price, and boost your
site’s effectiveness.

Who are your visitors?

You spend many hours identifying your target market. Through SEO, you
spend even more time, and often money, to focus your keywords, search
indexing and content for this market. You devote yourself to find the
optimal visitors by geography, interest, demographics and other important
criteria, all for one purpose … to get the attention of potential customers or
clients.

Once you know your target market, you need to know if your efforts are
effective. You do that by tracking your site visitor statistics. Web analytics
analyze your site traffic and break down the data into usable information
reports. Visitor stats you need for the best tracking include how many total
visits (“hits” on your site pages, which means the total number of views by
everyone who visits your site), unique page views (views of any given page
by the same visitor), and geographic location of your unique visitors. The
advantage of geographic location is that you can monitor where your
visitors are coming from. For instance, DogWidgets.com (note: fictional
company) began by selling to one region in the US but was getting traffic
from Canada and Germany. Owner saw that marketing focus was needed
for a more specific geographic area.

What are your visitors searching for?

This area of analytics is a terrific opportunity for SEO and refinement of your
keyword strategies. With a good tracking service, you will be able to get a
report on search engine keyword usage and clickstream (click path) data. In
other words, the report will show a breakdown of the keywords your visitors
used to find you as well as the search engine they used. This information is
invaluable as it spells out exactly what your visitors are looking for, how
effective your keywords are, and lets you know what search engines have
you listed. If your chosen service provides it, you can click the report link to
see what your page rank is for that engine, in real-time. A good analytics
site will also provide the clickstream data, which will show you the path your
visitor’s took inside your site, from page to page. This data is invaluable for
marketing your site and product or service. To demonstrate, the owner of
DogWidget.com has been trying to decide what areas to focus on. Owner’s
dog widgets have a wide variety of applications, and Owner sees through
the keyword report that the search terms are all over the spectrum. There
is no focus. This tells Owner that a marketing strategy is needed to grab
visitors that want specific dog widgets.

When do they visit my site?

You will also want to monitor your peak traffic hours. This is very easy with
a good analytics report. The more detail your reports show, the more
information you have to work with. You should be able to have the data on
your site visits broken down by year, month, week, day and hour. This is
important information, but you really need more than just “visitor totals.”
You should look for this time breakdown by page views (total views of every
page on your site) and by unique visitors (pages viewed by each individual
visitor). To show the importance, let’s consider our dog widget site scenario:

DogWidget.com sells a variety of multi-colored widgets for dogs. Owner
notices through tracking reports that there is a much higher page view of
the Outdoor widgets on Friday mornings. The Outdoor page seems to
compel the highest number of clicks to the order page. No one clicks from
the Rainy Day widgets page to the order page. So now Owner has the
information to rethink the Rainy Day page, and to begin focusing more
advertising to Outdoor topics, advertisers and markets.

Where are visitors coming from?

When you begin marketing your site, whether it is banner and link
exchanges, classified ads, posting articles, press releases or pay per click
advertising, you need to know what is working for you and what is wasting
your time. Referral link reports help narrow this down and allow you to see
what active links on the Internet are being used to bring site visitors.

For
instance, let’s see how our enthusiastic and dedicated dog widget owner has
been advertising. Being on a shoestring, Owner decided to try SEO and send
out weekly press releases. DogWidget.com has been indexed by several
major search engines, keywords have been refined thanks to the keyword
usage reports. Using the referral reports Owner sees that the SEO is
beginning to roll along nicely and is even picking up a little momentum.

Now
for the press releases. Owner sends out a new press release each week for
two months. Without the referral link report, Owner would be in the dark as
to whether the links on the releases were being used, unless it was a paid
distribution service (and that info is only for one release on that one site).

With the referral report, Owner was able to send out press releases at no
cost, and see what sites picked them up and posted them through the clicks
on the contact links. So the press release about Vacation dog widgets got a
lot of attention, excellent. That was time well spent. So now, Owner focus
can shift so efforts are optimized.

Why is all this so important?

I must answer this question with a question: do you know how your site
has been doing? If you do not have reports to give you the real-time traffic
information necessary to gauge visitor performance, how can you know how
your site is really doing? Are you thinking some decent sales is doing well?

Or because you get nice feedback, the site is ok? If this is the case, you are
settling for inferior results. This is not a solid way to manage any business,
and a Website is business. Why would you want to settle for “ok” when you
can get the tools at little expense that can make your site soar? Our Owner
wanted to quit the “day job” and make a real living from DogWidgets.com,
and with diligence and Web analytics, there is a good chance Owner will
succeed, and make a lot of dogs happy at the same time! Please don’t settle
for “ok.” Take your site to the next level. All it takes is having the right
information to work with. To paraphrase an old idiom, Visitor Knowledge is
Site Success.

How do they use my Website?

Your visitors are valuable. The visitors that buy your product or service are
priceless; they are the key element to success. You want to make them
happy and keep them coming back. You also want them to spread the word
about you. And yes, Web analytics can improve this as well. By knowing
how visitors are actually using your site, which pages they visit, how long
they view the pages they visit, what pages compel them to continue inside
the site (clickstream), and what pages they use to leave your site (exit
page) will tell you a great deal. For instance, back to our dog widget site.
Owner sees that the Uses for Widgets page seems to hold the visitor longer
than other information pages. It was written with humor and has a fun,
clean look. Wow, a winner page. However, Rainy Day Widget shows as a big
exit page. Not a good page, it appears to kill the site visits. Ok, Owner knows
that Rainy Day page needs some redesign and rewriting fast.

Don’t let your Website stall like a rainy day widget. As with any business, a
Website is needing continual marketing and refinement to stay focused and
on target. You need to keep on top of your markets, keep fresh, interesting
and compelling content, keep your site available to those who want your
product or service. Staying alive on the Web means you need visitors …
visitors who are looking for what you have to offer. With good Web analytics
you have the tools you need to put your site in front of your target market,
increase your ROI and find success on the Internet. And isn’t this why you
have a Website?

Cherie’ Davidson is content and marketing manager for [http://www.visistat.com]VisiStat.com. VisiStat is a detailed, real-
time site traffic and Web analytics report service that is focused on ease of
use and user-friendliness. VisiStat’s goal is to help site entrepreneurs make
the most of their site marketing and search engine optimization efforts – to
be a virtual “goldmine” for marketing. Learn more at <A target=”_new” href=”http://www.visistat.com”>http://www.visistat.com</a> or write
Cherie’ at  [mailto:cherie@visistat.com]cherie@visistat.com

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