First, you need to understand analytics terminology.
- Visits: the number of sessions on the website or the number of times a person interacted with your website
- Bounce: the number of people who instantly left your site
- Page Views: how many pages users requested in the total amount of visits
- Pages Per Visit: the amount of pages in each specific visit
- Average Time on Site: how long people lingered on your website
- Percentage of New Visits: how many sessions or interactions were from first time visitors
Recognizing Sources of Traffic
Traffic comes from many sources. Direct traffic refers to people who came to your site by typing in your website’s URL or had your site bookmarked. This can also be called default traffic or ambient traffic. You may sometimes see non-direct traffic in the direct Traffic category. This may be due to redirects that are badly coded, vanity URLs, or campaigns that are incorrectly coded.
Referring URLs are outside websites that are directing traffic to your website. This referral traffic could be from your banner advertisements or other marketing campaigns. Another possibility is that the referral traffic was originated from blogs or affiliates that link to your site.
Search Engines are the online tools that allow users to search for any topic simply by typing in a word or phrase. Google and Yahoo! are examples of such search engines. Note that the “search engine” category includes both organic and paid traffic.
Lastly is the “other” category. This category includes campaigns such as e-mail and direct marketing campaigns, among others.
What to Do with This Information
Defining the information at hand is a great first step. Now that you know what your web analytics tool is trying to tell you, what do you do with the information? How do you analyze the information so you can implement the inherent suggestions?
These are broad questions with a broad scope of answers, not all of which can be posed and answered in a beginner’s guide to web analytics. However, a general synopsis of how to analyze the information provided with a web analytics tool starts with asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the trends that you notice in the data?
- Where is any recent growth coming from?
Similar to analyzing data obtained from online survey software, the key to implementing positive changes that will help grow your website and business comes from asking the right questions and responding in an appropriate manner. As you practice using analytics tools to discover areas of improvement for your website, asking the right questions and implementing your results will become second nature.