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.
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.
- 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.
- Unique Visitors
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- % 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.
- Traffic sources
This tells you how visitors get to your site, providing numbers for each of three methods;
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.
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.
- Top landing pages
This shows you which of your pages attract the most inbound traffic
- 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.