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Web Analytics Glossary

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Analytics – the process of measuring and analyzing the traffic to your web site is something that most site owners know they need to do. But many are so confused they don’t even know what they should be monitoring, or even what most of the terms mean. Without being able to accurately measure your Web site’s effectiveness, you’ll have no idea what you are doing right or wrong, how to improve your sales. Is this post I’ll list some of the most common web site measurements and explain what they mean to you.

  1. Hits
    If your analytics tool uses this term – get a new one. Hits is a term from the “olden days” of the web. It was a measure of everything that was downloaded and viewed. In the beginning, there were no images, no flash, no video – just content. Each time a visitor looked at one page it was one hit. But when you start adding images etc., the hit counts become so far out of whack that they really are a useless number. Most programs no longer report it.
  2. Page Views
    Just like the name sounds, this is a count of how many times the pages on your site have been viewed. In general, you want this number to grow from month to month, especially as you add new content and attract new visitors.
  3. Unique Visitors
    Most programs use cookies to maintain a count of each unique visitor to your site. We usually speak in terms of visitors, but it’s actually each machine, each web browser even. If you have both IE and Firefox on your computer and you visit the same web site in each, you count as two separate visitors, since each has its own set of cookies. The same is true if you look at a web site from your home computer and also your office computer, you again count as two visitors.
  4. Visits
    This is the count of how many times all unique visitors came to your site. This one can also be a bit tricky. In most cases a visit will expire 20-30 minutes after the last activity made by a visitor. Think of it like this; You come to a site and browse pages for several minutes and then need a glass of water. Even if your browser stays on the page while you are away, there is no activity – no mouse clicks. If you return and click before 30 minutes has passed, you are still within in the same visit. With many analytics tools even if you close the browser and shut off your machine you are still within the same visit if your return before the time limit expires. Now if you take all of these scenarios, but you do not come back and click within 30 minute, then it will count as a new visit.
  5. Pages per Visit
    This tells you the average number of pages that get viewed during each visit. Higher numbers indicate that your visitors read multiple pages before they leave.
  6. Bounce rate
    This is the percentage of visits that the visitors leaves your site from the same page they entered on. IE, if they land on and exit from on the same page without going to any other pages on your site.  You want this number to be as low as possible. Average numbers vary by industry and type of site, but if your bounce rate is 70% or higher you may have a problem.
  7. Average time on site
    Another fairly obvious one. This tells you how long people stay when they visit your site. Longer times should correlate to higher pages/visit, or possibly your post are quite long or complex.
  8. % New Visits
    Of all the visits to your site, what percentage of them came to your site for the first time. By itself, this is nearly useless. But, when paired with other stats it can be illuminating. For example, let’s compare the number of new visitors to the number of page views. If your new visitor count is high and continues to grow, but your page views remains constant that would tell you that while you are attracting visitors, they are not coming back.
  9. Traffic sources
    This tells you how visitors get to your site, providing numbers for each of three methods;

    • Direct
      These visitors came to your site by manually entering the URL of the page.
    • Referring Sites
      These visits came to you by clicking a link on another site.
    • Search engines
      Can anyone guess? This traffic comes to you from being found on the various search engines.
  10. Keywords
    On your analytics, keywords tells you not how you want your site to be find, but rather how it actually was found. Of course, we want those things to be the same.
  11. Top landing pages
    This shows you which of your pages attract the most inbound traffic
  12. Top exit pages
    The pages from which the most people leave your site

There you have it – a basic analytics glossary to help you better understand the web traffic your site is getting. Hopefully this helps things make more sense to you, if I missed a term you don’t understand, let me know in the comments.

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG (www.tgslc.org). In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Eric Bramlett

    August 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    From my experience 30-40% bounce rate is a good goal for a real estate site. I would recommend drilling down to your most popular pages and trying to identify problem areas that way. There are certain pages that will naturally have very high bounce rates – your blog main page (as there’s lots of information, ) and a framed IDX (as analytics can’t track clicks through a framed element) are two of the most common examples on RE sites.

  2. Joe Loomer

    August 24, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Jack – thanks for the great explanation of the individual terms – I am an infant in the SEO game and this helps me understand my site’s analytic tools much better.

    Thanks, Shipmate!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    August 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the great review this is a good 101 resource for folks just getting started!

  4. Doug Francis

    August 25, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I check out my Google Analytics and Webmaser Tools all the time and am amazed how they can vary daily. It is odd though that my “Bounce Rate” does not seem to be tracking (flatline since 8/2)… all other numbers fluctuate daily even when I was on vacation and not on the web.

    Any thoughts?

  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 30, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Jack:

    Nice run down. I remember the ‘ole “HITS” days. A lot of cash was made by the early internet settlers by selling web sites with high “hit count” to people that didn’t initially understand.

    RM

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Business Finance

Will China’s new digital currency really compete with the US Dollar?

(BUSINESS FINANCE) It isn’t the first time that China has tried to compete with the dollar, but the release of a digital currency has lead some economists to raise red flags.

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Man holding phone in one hand and credit card in other hand, handling digital currency.

For decades the US has been the world standard for foreign trade. As of 2019, 88% of all trades were being backed by that almighty dollar, making it the backbone of the world economy. However, China may be sneaking in something new for digital currency. 

In the last few months, over 100k people were “airdropped” cold hard digital currency. This currency came from People’s Bank of China (PBOC), who has created a digital manifestation of the Chinese yuan. This is planned to run concurrently with its paper and coin playmates. Upon initial inspection, they resemble the same structure as Bitcoin and Ethereum. But there’s a major difference here: The Chinese government is the one fronting the money.

The suspected plan behind this is that the government plans to tightly control the value of the digital yuan, which they are known to do with the paper one as well. This would create a unique item within the world of cryptocurrency. Personally, I don’t think that any of this is going to go anywhere soon. Too many people still need hard currency but it does open up a unique aspect of currency that has only just started since debit and credit cards. It gives the government the ability to spy on its cryptocurrency users. Being able to monitor transaction flows can reveal things like tax evasion and spending habits. There is even the possibility of experimenting with expiring cash.

But how does this affect the US? There’s a method that has been used by Americans since WWII called dollar weaponization.  The exchange domination allows the US government to monitor how the dollars move across the border. Along with that monitoring they are actually able to freeze people out of global financial products as well. It’s a phenomenal amount of power to hold. 

The concern for economists is that the price fixing capabilities of this new currency as well as its backer being an entire countries government could affect everything about the global financial system. Only time will tell how true that turns out to be.

There are a number of possibilities that could come up honestly and they could fall flat on their face unless they put their entire monetary worth behind it. Only time will tell but some economists are already calling for DigiDollars from the American government. Another step into the future.

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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Tech News

Chatbots: Are they still useful, or ready to be retired?

(TECH NEWS) Chatbots have proven themselves to be equally problematic as they are helpful – is it time to let them go the way of the floppy disk?

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Man texting chatbots leaning against a brick wall.

All chatbots must die. I’d like to say it was fun while it lasted, but was it really?

I understand the appeal, truly. It’s a well established 21st century business mantra for all the side hustlers and serial entrepreneurs out there: “Automation is the key to scaling.” If we can save time, labor, and therefore money by automating systems, that means we have more time to build our brands and sell our goods and services.

Automation makes sense in many ways, but not all automation tools were created equal. While many tools for automation are extremely effective and useful, chatbots have been problematic from the start. Tools for email marketing, social media, internal team communication, and project management are a few examples of automation that have helped many a startup or other small business kick things into high gear quickly, so that they can spend time wooing clients and raising capital. They definitely have their place in the world of business.

However promising or intriguing chatbots seemed when they were shiny and new, they have lost their luster. If we have seen any life lesson in 2020, it is that humans are uniquely adept at finding ways to make a mess of things.

The artificial intelligence of most chatbots has to be loaded, over time, into the system, by humans. We try to come up with every possible customer-business interaction to respond to with the aim of being helpful. However, language is dynamic, interactive, with near infinite combinations, not to mention dialects, misspellings, and slang.

It would take an unrealistic amount of time to be able to program a chatbot to compute, much less reply to, all possible interactions. If you don’t believe me, consider your voice-activated phone bot or autocorrect spelling. It doesn’t take a whole lot to run those trains off the rails, at least temporarily. There will always be someone trying to confuse the bots, to get a terse, funny, or nonsensical answer, too.

Chatbots can work well when you are asking straightforward questions about a single topic. Even then, they can fall short. A report by AI Multiple showed that some chatbots were manipulated into expressing agreement with racist, violent, or unpatriotic (to China, where they were created) ideas. Others, like CNN and WSJ, had problems helping people unsubscribe from their messages.

Funny, shocking, or simply unhelpful answers abound in the world of chatbot fails. People are bound to make it messy, either accidentally or on purpose.

In general, it feels like the time has come to put chatbots out to pasture. Here are some helpful questions from azumbrunnen.me to help you decide when it’s worth keeping yours.

  1. Is the case simple enough to work on chatbot? Chatbots are good with direct and short statements and requests, generally. However, considering that Comcast’s research shows at least 1,700 ways to say “I want to pay my bill,” according to Netomi, the definition of “simple enough” is not so simple.
  2. Is your Natural Language Processor capable and sophisticated enough? Pre-scripted chatbots are often the ones to fail more quickly than chatbots built with an NLP. It will take a solid NLP to deal with the intricacies of conversational human language.
  3. Are your users in chat based environments? If so, then it could be useful, as you are meeting your customers where they are. Otherwise, if chatbots pop up whenever someone visits your website or Facebook page, it can really stress them out or turn them off.

I personally treat most chatbots like moles in a digital whack-a-mole game. The race is on to close every popup as quickly as possible, including chatbots. I understand that from time to time, in certain, clearly defined and specific scenarios, having a chatbot field the first few questions can help direct the customer to the correct person to resolve their problems or direct them to FAQs.

They are difficult to program within the expansiveness of the human mind and human language, though, and a lot of people find them terribly annoying. It’s time to move on.

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