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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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Opinion Editorials

How to turn your complaint mindset into constructive actions

(EDITORIAL) Everybody knows someone who complains too much. While being open is important for mental health, constant bellyaching is not.

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Everybody knows someone who complains too much. While being open is important for mental health, constant bellyaching is not, so here are a few tips on turning your complaints into constructive actions.

It’s important to understand the difference between “complaining” and “addressing.” Talking about problems which mandate discussion, bringing up issues slated to cause larger issues down the line, and letting your boss know that you have the sniffles all fall into the latter category due to necessity; complaining is volitional, self-serving, and completely unnecessary in most contexts.

Complaining also puts you in an excessively bad mood, which may prevent you from acknowledging all the reasons you have not to complain.

Another point to keep in mind is that complaining occasionally (and briefly) isn’t usually cause for ostracization. Constant or extensive complaining, however, can lead others to view you as a largely negative, self-centered person — you know, the kind of person literally no one actively seeks out — which is why you should focus more on redirecting that negative energy rather than using it to remind your barista why they gave up their dream of becoming a therapist.

Complaining stems from two main sources: the need to be validated—for example, for others to know what you’re going through—and the need to be comforted. Addressing a chronic complaint mindset, then, is largely about validating and comforting yourself. This is a simple solution which nevertheless can take years to manifest properly, but you can start by doing a couple of things differently.

“Focus on the positive” is perhaps the hokiest advice you’ll get from anyone, but it works. In virtually any situation, you can find a positive aspect—be it an eventual outcome or an auxiliary side-effect—on which you can concentrate. Think about the positive enough, and you’ll talk yourself out of complaining before you’ve even started.

It’s also good to remember that no one, no matter how much they care about you, can handle constant negativity. If you find yourself constantly hitting people with bad news or tragic personal updates, try mixing up the dialogue with some positive stuff. That’s not to say that you can’t be honest with people—friends, family, and colleagues all deserve to know what’s going on in your life—but make sure that you aren’t oversaturating your listeners with sadness.

Lastly, keep your complaining off of social media. It’s all too easy to post a long Facebook rant about being served cold pizza (no one likes cold pizza on day one), but this just results in your loding a complaint reaching a larger number of people than vocalization ever could. If you have to complain about something in earnest, avoid doing it anywhere on the Internet—your future self will thank you.

Being honest about how you feel is never a bad thing, but constant negativity will bring down you and everyone around you. If you can avoid a complaint mindset as a general rule, you’ll one day find that you have significantly less to complain about.

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Business Finance

7 ways to get your freelance invoices paid more quickly

(FINANCE) It’s easy to feel uncomfortable bringing up money with your superiors, but for a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue. Here are 7 tips to get your invoices paid quickly.

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For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around money. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.

This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.

The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.

However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.

  1. You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
  2. This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid five percent faster.
  3. It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
  4. Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
  5. This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10 percent.
  6. Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15 percent more likely to be paid on time.
  7. While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20 percent longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.

The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.

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Tech News

For meetings that should be an email, there’s StandupMeet

(TECH NEWS) If you’re tired of having your precious work time taken up by useless meetings, there may be a solution.

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Have you ever attended a meeting that turned out to be a waste of time and set you back on your work? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that every person reading this article is nodding in agreement.

Meetings, if executed appropriately (and sporadically,) can be effective. However, having weekly (or even daily) meetings that are designed to catch-up or give reports can add up to a ton of wasted time.

Across the board, meetings are generally geared towards productivity, and oftentimes they are counterproductive. So, how can you still get that need for touching-base with employees while still being productive? StandupMeet might just have the answer for that.

StandupMeet is a tool designed to make meetings more productive and agile. According to their statistics, more than $37 billion per year are being spent on unproductive meetings.

The main features include: the digitization of meetings, the instantaneous sharing of minutes, and the ability to assign actions and keep track of progress.

By making the meetings digital, you organize meeting points in one place. Decisions, actions, and key points can be logged in real time and accessed before the meeting.

This makes projects more agile and helps to increase critical success factors.

With instantaneous sharing of minutes, you can collaborate and share minutes of the meeting, key result areas, and action points. This is also done in real time and is shared with colleagues to make sure that each person is on the same page.

Finally, by assigning actions and keeping track of projects helps to ensure data integrity and provides accountability to each team member. Automated reminders are available so that you can spend your time on the more valuable tasks first.

In addition, StandupMeet also offers: project wised meeting, customized meeting types, organized agendas, shareable meeting minutes, accountability, reminders to ensure time is being appropriately applied, recurring meetings, conflict-free meeting scheduling, locations, automated follow ups, automatically tracked action points, and flexibility across time zones.

This can save time and increase productivity for on-site workers and can also be beneficial for teams that are remote.

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