What Do Your Web Site Statistics Mean, Anyway?
By Karyn Greenstreet
copyright © 2003, by Karyn Greenstreet. All rights reserved.
The purpose of analyzing your web site statistics is to look for trends and to research the success level of your marketing campaigns. The numbers themselves can be misleading, as statistical packages count “hits” in different ways. If someone visits a page on your site doesn’t mean that they read it completely.
The idea with web site statistics, then, is to look for trends. Instead of looking at the numbers a concrete items, look at them over time to see if they’re increasing or decreasing. For example, if you do an internet marketing campaign, then look at your web site statistics to see if the campaign increased the number of hits to your site.
With that said, here are some numbers you should look at:
There are three areas that are important to review each month and during each marketing campaign. The number of unique visitors will help you to determine whether your site is receiving more or less visitors each month.
The location tells you what country, and sometimes what State, the visitors are coming from. This is important if you’re concerned about your global reach to other countries, or if you’ve done a marketing campaign in other States. Note that this is the State of the ISP where they connected to the Internet. Because AOL is in Virginia, you will have an inordinate amount of Virginia visitors, even though these people are actually all over the USA.
An important distinction is the concept of “visitors” versus “hits”. Each person who visits your site is considered a “visitor”. Each time a visitor looks at a page, that page and its contents are accessed, including the graphics on the page. As example, say that your home page has two graphics on it, plus some text. That is considered THREE elements on the page. When a visitor visits that page once, your statistics will show ONE visitor and THREE hits.
Time of Day Activity
This area of your statistics helps you to determine which days of the week have the most activity, and which time of day is the most active. This can be helpful to know when to schedule chats and teleclasses. For instance, if Wednesdays at 3PM are popular times for your site, they may be popular times for teleclasses. It’s important to note here that one of the most popular times for people to search the web is weekdays after lunch. (People are at work and having a sugar low after digesting their lunch and are surfing the net instead of working.) If this is a popular time for people to be surfing the net, then this might also be a popular time for an internet chat on your web site.
This section of your statistics will tell you who is sending people to your web site. It lists which search engines people use, as well as which keywords or key phrases people use to find your site. In addition, this section will also list what other sites are linking from their site to your site. (When someone links from their site to your site, it’s called an “inbound link” or “incoming link”.)
This section of your statistics will help you to determine which pages are visited most often, how long people stay on a page (presumably to read it), and which page people exit your site from. Again, trends matter here more than the concrete numbers. Are certain pages more popular than others? Are people only spending 5 seconds on a page that should take 3 minutes to read?
This section tells you where people had problems accessing your site. If people try to access a certain page and can’t, it will be recorded here. If your site has been unavailable, you’ll see these numbers rise.
For a list of all internet error message numbers and they’re corresponding meaning, check out this website:
Note: If you use Google Analytics for your statistics, you might not see error reports there. Often error reports are shown on Google Webmaster Tools.
As you can see, there are many number to look at in your statistics, and many ways to interpret them. If you pay more attention to trends and problems, and less attention to actual numbers, you’ll be ahead of the game!