Web analytics means the measurement, collection, reporting, and analysis of your website visitor behavior data in order to understand and optimize their visits for a better experience.
You can use the findings for
- market research
- assessing and improving the effectiveness of your website and
- measuring the results of an advertising campaign by helping to estimate how traffic to a website changed after the launch of the new campaign.
Typically, web analytics provides information about
- The number of people that visited the site
- Their location, device, operating system and language used
- How they spend time on the site and where exactly
- The pages that were the most preferred within the site
- The number of clicks that was required to reach the desired information
- The rate of a goal completion
Through analysis of such information, it is possible to understand the needs of the users of the website and therefore to provide content that is relevant to the users.
This is especially important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO is the use of specific keywords that makes a website more likely to appear among the top search results when someone types these keywords into a search engine such as Google.
Web analytics versus goals
The web analytics data should always be used to measure the goals of your website.
For instance, if the objective of a web page is to convert visitors to newsletter subscribers, the analytics would highlight this by showing how many completed this task, and which pages they used to arrive to the actual subscription page.
Web analytics also enable the management of eCommerce sites to determine how many people visited the site in general, what were the most popular products on the site based on the number of visits or clicks, what was the average age of the visitors to the page, and many other demographical information of these visitors.
Types of web analytics techniques
There are generally three main types of web analytics based mainly on the scope of the data being collected:
On-site web analytics tools are generally designed to measure the various variables of web users once they log in into the specific website under analysis.
Therefore, this type of web analytics can be seen as being internal and focused on the data once a user logs into a specific website.
This refers to analytical tools that provide the general analysis of the users of the internet.
In this case, these tools provide an analysis of website usage despite the fact that you own the website or not.
This is generally important especially while the owner of a website is targeting a particular market niche or target group in the internet. It helps researchers to identify potential opportunities and the general trend of internet users.
How do web analytics tools access information from a website?
There are generally two ways:
Analysis of log files
Web servers always create a log of all the interactions of the page. Web analytics can read these interactions and get the specific data required for the analysis.
Usually, web analytics tools capture the number of request to the server by clients to view the pages of the websites. This method of access to web analytics information was effective in the past when webpages consisted of simple HTML files. However, when images and other media files became integrated into webpage codes this system was deemed ineffective.
This refers to tools that incorporate both page tagging and log files as sources for data. This is a more robust and accurate method of carrying out web analytics since it taps into the advantages presented by both methods of data access.
Other methods of data analysis
Click analytics: by monitoring the number of clicks and the specific pages, links, images or content within a website, the web analytics tools is able to identify a certain aspect of the webpage usage. Moreover, this type of analytics enables for a real-time analysis of the user behavior and in the long terms be able to determine certain meaningful behaviors of the customers.
Internet Protocol address: IP address can be used to determine the location of the various users who log into a website. This can provide important information concerning the countries, regions, cities and postcode of the visitors of a website and therefore help in creating the demographics that are critical in web analytics.
Customer behavior analytics: this type of analysis ties all the various aspects of the analysis such as the number of clicks, page views, IP addresses to a particular customer. When these customers visit the web again, a cycle is developed and analyzed. This helps in understanding the needs of the customers, web optimization and funnel marketing strategies.
Advantages of web analytics
Marketing: One of the most expensive costs for any organization is marketing. Running advertisements on mainstream media is expensive and therefore all effort must be put in place to ensure that marketing ventures are as effective as possible. The only way to have effective marketing strategies is by having accurate and relevant information about the target audience. Web analytics provides information about the target audience and therefore enhances the marketing process.
Web analytics also provides an analysis of other companies or organizations providing the same services. Therefore, the management is able to compare and learn from the experiences of other market players and formulate strategies that are best suited for best results.
Knowing one’s customers is also another advantage of web analytics. Once the management is aware of the preferences and needs of their customers, they can align their production goals to those of the customers and be able to make more profit.
Web analytics provides insights that indicate the areas that the organization is not performing well and therefore provide an opportunity to make the necessary corrections.
Through web analytics, the management is able to forecast based on current trends. This is helpful in aligning organizational change to impending shifts in business and also minimizing future risks to the organization.
Web analytics enables management to identify key performance indicators that can be used to monitor and evaluate the general performance of the organization. For instance, key indicators can include data such as the number of new customers, amount of revenue generated, losses incurred, and the number of items sold online. These performance indicators can be evaluated in relations to the goals and objectives of the organization.
Web analytics terminology
Visitor: refers to an individual user that logs in to a website. However, there are other codes that access a page and it is imperative that a web analytics tools establishes that the visitor is actually human. Some web pages have verification codes to ascertain that a visitor is actually a person.
Session: refers to the duration that a visitor spends on the website in question. It reflects the entire period from the time the visitor logged into the website to the time he/she logged out.
Page View: this refers to a successful request made by the visitor to view a web page from the server. A page view does not count the other elements on the page such as images or content but counts the entire page as a single view.
Hits: refers to the successful request of an element of the web page such as an image from the server. Mostly, many managers place a lot of importance to the number of hits, however, most I experts in web analytics agree that hits are not as valuable in terms of determining the success or otherwise of a website. The reason for this is based on the fact that a lot of hits can be generated from a single webpage and this undermines the actual popularity of the website. Page views are a more preferred aspect of determining the performance of a website.
Session summary: provides a summary of the activities of the various visitors of a website. The information provided includes total sessions, total page views, total hits and the average of these various pieces of data.
Referrals: refers to the geographical information about the main source of traffic to the websites and also traffic that was generated from other websites. For instance, the web analytical website can indicate that 20% of traffic to the website was from Google Search.
Keywords: web analytics also provides a report detailing the most used keywords in relation to the Meta tags used by your website. This is very important since it provides the owners of the website to align their keywords with that most commonly used by search engines and therefore generate more traffic to the website.
Keyword searches: This is a report provided by website analytics sites outlining the actual keywords that were used by users to get referred to the website. This report includes all search engines that the customers used.
Top entry page: refers to the first page that was viewed by customers. It is not always that the home page of a website is the one viewed first. Web analytics provides data on the number of top entrances in ascending or descending order. This is critical in determining which pages on the website were most appealing to the customers.
Web analytics is a must
Web analytics is crucial to ensure the success of web-based business and organizations.
Web analytics is a tool that enables the website experience to be driven by information and therefore to become more enhanced.
Operating a website without web analytics is like driving with your eyes closed, so get yours activated today.