Each month we provide a snapshot of statistical information to indicate the performance of www.thames-info.co.nz (this month we show what countries our visitors come from) and this month's article gives a more in depth explanation as to the importance of website statistics and will be particularly useful for those of you that also have your own "domain" websites.
Website statistics are the gateway to measuring the success of your website, whether you want to increase your online sales, gain improved understanding of your target market demographics or increase your marketing ROI.
Website statistics provide a lot more information than most people realise. Yes, they track the number of visitors you receive and define your most visited pages, but they also guide you towards your best performing keywords and the countries that provide you with the most visitors. Armed with this kind of information you should be able to improve the overall performance of your website by concentrating your marketing efforts on the more effective methods and ignoring the least effective.
For many sites, search engines are likely to be the leading producer of traffic. Website statistics enable you to view a list of search strings that visitors use to find your website and also give you the total number of successful searches that have resulted in visits to your website (our stats show the top 20 search strings together with the total number of successful searches – those which result in visitors to your site). This information can be used to identify the keywords and phrases that are providing the most traffic and also help to indicate any that can be improved upon.
Referring sites are extremely important and our website statistics not only tell you exactly how many referrers your website has had, but also provide links to the top 250 referrers. Although pages on your own website are included in the referrer statistics, because the top 250 are listed, you should get a clear indication of the most frequent referring sites. Search engines should rank highly in this list, but it is also an excellent resource for checking the number of referrals you get from other sites that link to yours (especially useful for checking the effectiveness of paid links). If you have links all over the Internet, then referrer stats should define which are more beneficial, simplifying the task of gaining more similar ones.
Another good avenue of pertinent information is the list of entry pages (our statistics detail the top 10 and provide a total). The entry page is the page that a visitor first lands on when they reach your site. Don't be fooled into thinking that all of your traffic emerges on your index (home) page, as for most websites this shouldn't be the case. Each correctly optimized page on your site should be a potential source of search engine traffic.
Exit pages (again ours detail the top 10 and provide a total) are also very important as this information may be crucial in determining problem areas on your site. Ideally you want visitors to exit via your enquiry/booking acknowledgement page or your shopping cart checkout, if they haven’t phoned or emailed you. If a particular page is leading to a lot of people exiting your site, then address it immediately.
Beware of sites claiming a huge amount of “Hits”. Hits can be very misleading as they include all images on a page, so are really of no relevance whatsoever. For example if you index page has 6 images, the total hits recorded each time someone visits that page will be 7. The important general information is “Total Visits” and “Total Pages” (information provided every month - see above). If your website has 1000 Total Visits and 4000 Total Pages, this indicates that each of your 1000 visitors, on average, views 4 pages.
Translating the results need not be any more complicated than actually reading them and can seriously improve your website’s performance. Here are a few guidelines that can be used when next viewing your statistics.
Lots of Visitors But No Conversions
Too much emphasis is often placed on driving traffic to websites, and not enough emphasis on actually converting this traffic into customers. If you find that the pages of your site are frequently being visited, but you are not getting results, then your site content may need improvement, or the visitors you are gaining are not targeted to what you are offering.
Visitors are Leaving From a Specific Page
Again, this can usually be combated with improved content on that page. If the content of an individual page is poor, but the rest of your site is good, then visitors are probably navigating happily around your site until they reach this one page. Check out the page yourself and see if the content can be improved upon.
Traffic From a Specific Source is Particularly Inactive
If you are paying for advertising on a particular website and are receiving the referrals but don’t believe that they are generating the business you envisage, it may be useful to check on the referring site’s link as it may be placed on an irrelevant page which is unlikely to yield the results you are looking for.
These are just some of the ways that statistics can help provide valuable information. If you have a website you should study your stats each month and look for trends, but more importantly, take action where necessary.