Start Understanding Your Website Traffic

polaris Do you take the time to look at your traffic stats? And if you do, do your understand what all those reports mean? How can you utilize that data to make adjustments?

I want to make a couple of points before I go on with this article. First, my content is written with the intention to provide value to entrepreneurs, independents, small businesses or freelancers that need to leverage from these tools but don’t have the time to become experts in the subject, in other words, when any marketing budget is coming out of your own pocket. And second, if you don’t work at a big company, those dollars are probably coming out of your pocket, so you need to pay attention to things like your traffic data.

I’m listing a few things that can get you going in understanding this a little better:

First Things First…

If you’re not running a Web Analytics software on your site, that will be step one. Google Analytics makes this a walk in the park. There is no need to invest anything, it’s very easy to install and it provides you with enough data to play around. You will need to create an account (if you already have a Google account you’ll be able to use that), get a piece of code to install on your site or blog and give it about 24 hours to start gathering data for you.

What To Look For

Sure, looking at how many visits you got last month is fun, but there are other reports that will help you understand how your visitor behaves in your site so you can make the necessary adjustments.

I’m sharing traffic numbers based on one of the blogs I’ve been tracking in the last 2 weeks and of course you should take in consideration that it might be different for you depending on the nature of your site and your content. Here goes:

Visits

The number of visits to your site. You will get an amount of visits during a period of time and a percentage to see where is your traffic is coming from. In this example, it’s easy to see that we could focus a little bit more on improving Google ranking. You can compare what you’re doing in the networks where you get the most traffic against other networks, obviously something is working better there.

visits

Page Visits

The average number of pages viewed during a visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted. The highest number of visits don’t always means the best quality, now we see Facebook took the lead on this one…

pageviews

Ave. Time On Site

The average duration of a visit to your site. Look at how Facebook users spend more time on the site, look for answers on things like this. What can you do to keep your visitor a little longer?

avetime

Bounce Rate

The percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Here’s an example, if you’re promoting a blog post, your visitor will go directly to that specific page, read your article and bounce away. What can you do to offer him/her to browse around?

Also, look at the big difference between Facebook and the rest. Is it because the rest of the sources are too impersonal? Maybe…

bouncerate

Watch Your Cheese

If your website or blog is your primary form of marketing, then you need to pay closer attention. I recently downloaded this little widget called Polaris, it grabs your Google Analytics data and brings it to your desktop, now you don’t even need to go to the website to take a quick look.

The application is free for one account and you need to pay an annual fee if you need to track more than one site. You can also download from the Adobe Air Marketplace. The picture at the top of this post is from the Polaris interface by the way…

Can You Track Social Media?

owly There are ways to get a little taste of how you do in social networks. If you own a Facebook Fan Page you probably noticed the “Insights” box on your left sidebar, that gives you a good idea of your performance and your visitors demographic data.

Another way is to use a service like Hootsuite and URL Shortener tools such as Ow.ly (same company) to track clicks from Twitter and other websites. There are many other services like this. The data you’ll get is basic but good enough to polish your strategy, but this a whole different animal and I’ll probably write a post for it.

Final Thought

This is a testing game. Start looking at your data, be creative on how to improve things, test something new for a month and then compare with the previous month. Here is what’s gonna happen:

  • You’ll get some understanding on how things work.
  • You’ll realize you can work on setting some goals.
  • You’ll eventually be comfortable controlling the performance of your site.

What kind of tools are you currently using? Share in the comments…

  • dianreid

    Just downloaded Polaris…very cool. Thanks =)

  • Cool, I love it because sometimes I just wanna take a quick look and it's right there… BTW, I removed the Gigya bar, I felt the site was taking longer to load.

  • Just downloaded Polaris…very cool. Thanks =)

  • Cool, I love it because sometimes I just wanna take a quick look and it's right there… BTW, I removed the Gigya bar, I felt the site was taking longer to load.