Zen and the Art of Web Site Analytics

smiling-buddhaSite analytics have always freaked me out a little.

I mean, the sheer amount of data you are presented with about your web site can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Or even if you DO know what to look for.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Avinash Kaushik, the Analytics Evangelist for Google and author of the Occam’s Razor blog.

I have been avidly reading Avinash’s book Web Analytics: 2.0 for a couple of weeks now and I’m so impressed by Avinash’s writing style and the knack he has of simplifying concepts.

Take for example his definition of a Single Page Visit:

“I came. I puked. I left”

Exactly. If a visitor to your site doesn’t like or find what they’re looking for the first page they look at, it’s  highly likely they’ll simply take off. So you’d better look carefully at those pages with high bounce rates and work out what the heck is turning people away.

Avinash knows that webmasters and marketers often need to present a SWOT analysis or at least a summary of key site analytics to a range of stakeholders. He explains explicitly how to pull the crucial data out of your site analytics and present it in such a way that even the most non-tech of people can make sense of it.

I was reading his feature article in the latest Search Marketing Standard magazine yesterday and something in particular he said really stood out for me:

“Less is more. Focus on the critical few metrics rather than the insignificant many”

Often, we are so obsessed with understanding ALL the data presented by our analytics program that we forget to take a step back and think about WHY we are studying analytics in the first place. Avinash reminds us that we need to use our time wisely and look at just the few critical metrics that impact our business.

These will be different for everyone, depending on the goals of their web sites. For example, for my business, the key metrics are probably bounce rate, keywords, referrers and exit pages. As long as I review these four metrics regularly, I can be confident that I’m measuring the most important data that is influencing my online business. For a lead-generation based site, the critical metrics might be conversions, entry pages, page views and referrers.

So don’t be afraid of your analytics. Think about the main goals you’ve set for your web site, dive in to your analytics and pull out a few metrics that will help you understand why visitors are meeting/missing those goals. Then you can tweak the site based on what you’ve learned.

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Q and A: Can Google Analytics help me identify potential customers?

Question

Hi Kalena…

My question relates to Google Analytics. Does it also track what kind of visitors are coming to your site? I wonder if there is a tool that can tell you what kind of visitors come to your site. What I want to find out is if the visitors who come to my site are people who try to sell me stuff or are they potential clients who are interested in my services.

Thank you,

Galit

Dear Galit,

Thanks very much for your enquiry.  Google Analytics (along with most other site usage stats packages) tracks a wide variety of information about your site visitors – and by analysing this data it is often possible to infer their “intent”.  However, there is no “magic wand” or simple measurement that you can use to determine whether they are really potential customers.

Saying that, if you have goal tracking setup in Google Analytics (and I hope you do), you can relatively easily determine which types of users are more likely to result in a conversion – for example, using goal tracking in place, you may notice that 60% of users coming to your site via a google search query for the phrase “cheap red widgets” go on to buy red widgets from you.  This is important information – as it means that by optimising your sitye for this keyword phrase, you are likley to increase traffic – and more importantly sales.

Another analytics feature that you should consider implementing is – eCommerc tracking . This allows you to relatively easily determine your most profitable sources of revenue, and can be a very  effective way to determine how best to boost your online sales amd enquiries.

Regards,

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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Q and A: How can I track visitors coming to my website?

QuestionHi Kalena,

How would I find that how many users are visiting my site? Is that possible to have it as a report? i.e. daily, weekly etc.Question

Baskar

Dear Baskar

The two word answer to your question is “web analytics”. Web analytics software will not only help you to track the number of visitors coming to your website, but would tell you where they came from, the amount of time they spent on your website, pages they visited, and a whole lot of other data pertaining to your website.

The data from your web analytics software is extremely useful in helping you fine tune your website and is a must have for anyone who owns a website or a blog. There is a plethora of web analytic software, both free and paid, which you can use to get all the data you are looking for. The only challenge you are likely to face is converting this raw data into information which can be acted upon.

Personally I prefer Google Analytics and I have various reasons to do so. It is free to use and will supply you with all the data that you need, at least at beginner and intermediate level. On top of this, it is simple to use and intuitive. Your can generate reports based on various dimensions, customize it, and export them in various formats. You could not ask for more from free-to-use software.

The installation process is simple. All you need to do is sign up for Google analytics (you can use an existing Google account), grab a tracking code and insert it in webpages you want to track – job done. Google will start tracking your website’s activities in the next 24-48 hours. You can refer to Google Analytics Installation Guide for step by step instructions.

Saurav.

Pay for Performance Search Marketing

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Google’s Cross-Product Webinar

Google have announced a free cross-product webinar for webmasters to learn more about three of their most used products, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer, and how they can work together to enhance your website.

The webinar will be held 8th July 2008, 9:00am PT (Pacific Time). To attend you need to register. Those that can’t make it will be able to access an archived version of the presentation via the same registration URL. This is the first time Google have offered a joint webinar for these products.

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