Web Stats 101

Web Stats

Have you read your web statistics lately? They can tell you a lot, especially if you read between the lines. The typical question is how many hits did we get? To set the record straight – don’t look at hits.

Hits do not represent the number of visitors (repeat or unique). They represent the number of objects on a page that were loaded or more specifically requested by a visitor’s browser. Since every web page varies tremendously in the number of objects it contains, the number of hits does not help you truly measure traffic.

The number of visitors, both unique and repeat will help tell a story. Take note of all the numbers surrounding visitors. The unique visitors are generally represented for a specific period of time. For instance, it may be appropriate to measure the unique visitors for a single month versus a six month period.

There are a number of factors that may determine the best time period. Are there promotions driving web traffic running at specific times? Is your business seasonal? Are you comparing similar periods this year to last year? Remember, whatever period of time you chose will mean the visitors are unique for that specific period of time.

Once you’ve determined Unique visitors, which really tells you how successful you are at continuously driving new traffic to your site, check out your repeats.

There are specific reasons that you want to measure repeat visitors. First, if your web site offers tools for your clients to use then make sure they are going there and using them. Second, if you are driving traffic from email campaigns, reciprocal or third party links, etc., the repeat visitors are measured by the number of times they have come within the specific timeframe. This will help you determine how many visitors your users find beneficial, how often you should update messaging on the site and much more.

Other key indicators for you to review are session paths. These are simply the pages that a visitor travelled through. Reading between the lines, you can evaluate your site navigation. Did the user follow navigation, looking at something, but then back track to go elsewhere? Is this obvious because it appears repetitious? Does the length of time on each page tell you anything special too? Page paths and session lengths are really great tools for evaluating your site.

Another area to view would be the entry and exit pages. This will show you if specific areas of your site have been bookmarked by visitors or index/listed by another site. You may be surprised where people are entering your web site – quite often it’s not the home page. Where they leave may tell you something too.

Last note of importance are referral pages. Expect to see your search engines, sites linking to you, and of course, any ad sources you have running on the web.

Reading between the lines will give you plenty of information – read and learn.