Understanding website analytics – A comprehensive overview

You often hear various terms like analytics, website traffic, audience behavior etc. While people with a working knowledge understand it, others can’t make neither head nor tail of these terms. All of these comes under one entity – website analytics.

The world of analytics is moving forward very swiftly. Companies of every size now require multiple analytical tools to understand their website’s performance, satisfaction of their customers and gain a perspective on the working of their competitors.

So, from the what to the how to the why, we will take a complete overview of website analytics.

What is website analytics?

The textbook definition – Website analytics are generally referred to as the measurement, analysis and reporting of internet in order to understand and optimize website.

What it actually means

  1. The number of visits on your website.
  2. How they got to know about your website.
  3. What did they do on your website.
  4. Did they come back to your website?

Know your audience behavior through web analytics.

Internet traffic is the backbone of any website. Hence, to understand your audience, you need to know the factors that influence their behavior. After all, website analytics provide information about both your website as well as its visitors. We can divide the various factors it into 3 sections.

  1. Understanding your audience
  • The total number of visits on your website.
  • The amount of new and returning visitors on your website.
  • Data such as age demographic data and which country are they visiting from.
  • Which browsers are used to access your website, like Chrome and Firefox.
  1. Behavior of your audience.
  • How visitors landed on your website and where they exited like homepage, contact page, etc.
  • The most popular page on your website.
  • The amount of time visitors spend on your website.
  • Event tracking, user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load.
  1. Campaign data.
  • What campaigns drove visitors to your website.
  • The domains that referred your site’s traffic.
  • The keywords people searched in order to find your site.

Isolating the needed data to benefit from analytics.

Analytic tools gives you tonnes of data about your website and, to some extent, it can become nigh impossible for any user to pick out the important information needed. To ease that problem, narrow down the goal of your website. This allows you to select the data you are looking for all along.

To make you understand better, we take two examples of website businesses with different goals.

The main goal of an e-commerce website is to make sales, which is completely different to that of the consultants using their website to give information about their business.

The people associated with the e-commerce website will be more concerned with conversion metrics, such as number of purchases made online, whereas the consultants are probably going to be looking at engagement metrics, such as time spent on site and number of pages visited.

On deciding upon the metric you need to focus on, be updated specifically on the data you need, on a regular or weekly basis. This helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your website. Also, depending upon the seasonal variation, you can compare last year’s data with the current year, to check any significant rise or decline.

Importance of analytics – Goals and Funnels

Perhaps the biggest importance of analytics is that it helps you optimize certain sections of your website, thus improving results. How? Let us take the above e-commerce example.

In e-commerce websites, shopping cart abandonment is a big issue. There are number of reasons for it – people think the process is too lengthy, they are too lazy to create an account, they don’t find their convenient method of payment, or, the shipping costs makes them back off.

The possible solutions to it would be to shorten the process by reducing the number of pages, giving them information upfront before proceeding to checkout and giving them every possible way of payment.

The role of analytics here is to provide you with sufficient data to study and analyse the problem and later decide upon a solution to curtail it. If you notice a 100% drop-off on the traffic in your page, your page is down. Analytics helps you bring the elements of the website conversion funnels together, to convert your visitor into a lead.

If you are looking for a starting point, the best way to go about it is to sign up on free tools like Google analytics and Bing’s webmaster tools. Provide them with all the information they need about your website and sooner rather than later, you will get all the data you need.

Website analytics provides you with extremely valuable data, which if interpreted correctly and acted upon, could lead to great improvements on the performance of your website.

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