How did your website perform this year?
If you were asked today how did your website perform this year could you give an informed, statistical answer? Websites are now a key component of most business and like any other part of your business – understanding how this area performed – and what changes or improvements might be needed should be at least an annual part of business planning.
Granted websites come with lots of statistics and you could actually easily spend hours analyzing these stats. Quite often some of these stats are non meaning or not relevant to a business. But what are the important statistics and what should you focus on? Once you have developed a technique interpreting your website you should be able to review and interpret your website results within 15 minutes.
Ultimately we want to know how much business was generated or created by the website (known as a web conversion). This is black and white statistic and usually very easy to establish… We had 500 sales on our website this year or we had 250 new inquiries this year or we had 150 subscribers to our listings. These are the end results of your website – but they are best interpreted and achieved through some key web statistics:
Start with the Basics – How many people visited your website?
I hear it all the time – its stuns me that very good business people and business make these statements – “Our website had millions of hits last year” – giving the impression that “millions of people” visited their website further implying the website produced millions of dollars…
Folks the most important statistic and the primary statistic is a unique visitor (A person that visits your website). A hit is not in anyway related to a person or unique visitor – as described above it is an ignorant (or inflated) confusing statement about a websites performance…
For the record here is the definition of a hit:
A “hit” is a retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a Website. For example, when a visitor looks at one web page with six graphics this will produce seven hits, one for the page itself and six for the graphics. And a graphic can be photos, logos, graphical buttons, even a tiny arrow or other icon.
So a visitor coming to your website can (and usually does) generates hundreds of hits. But they are still only one visitor – capable of one business transaction (usually)…
OK – We Measure our website by Unique Visitors – What is next?
Visits – How many times did a person visit your website?
The next area to focus on is what that visitor did when they visited your website. First – how many times did they visit the website? This stat is known as “Visits” – a website may have 1000 visitors that visit 3000 times. (which means on average each visitor came to the website 3 times…
Pages Views – How many pages were viewed (read)
The next stat we look at is how many pages were viewed (In essence what pages are being read by our visitors). This is a critical stat for any website that sells advertising as this usually indicates how many ads were viewed.
Visits Duration – How long was a visitor on our website?
This is a great stat for understanding web visitor’s behavior and it really makes you focus on how quickly you can have your visitors “converted” into a desired outcome. This statistic is an absolute eye-opener about the general behavior of visitors to your site. If your website’s current information (its “content”) is not up-to-date, or it is difficult for a visitor to find that information on your site quickly, chances are the visitor will quickly leave your website.
Frequently Viewed Pages:
This statistic tells you what specific pages are being viewed by visitors to your website. It also tells you the amount of times a particular page is visited, so you can establish what your key pages are on your site, as well as what pages you have that people are not visiting (and appropriately analyze why). Obviously, you want your conversion pages (ones that lead to conversion-specific actions) to be way up there on visitation.
Referring Search Engines (Prospects):
Search engines are a great opportunity for getting new visitors to your website. There are many things that can be done to ensure that you have a prominent listing on a search engine – but knowing which search engines are producing the most referrals can help with your search engine strategy. Search engines have robots that search the Internet continuously and establish key phrases and words that describe and are found on your site. This is how the search engine establishes an index on your website. The stronger your key words and phrases (in essence your content) – the higher your rankings on search engines.
Referring Website (Referrals):
Referring websites are what I consider “word of mouth” online. This is the stat that shows you which specific website the visitor found out about you on (and actually took the link on that site to get to you). Online advertising is the primary method that sends visitors to other websites, but key links are also a good way to get additional traffic. This is a great statistic to use to monitor how well your outside advertising or link exchanges are working, for instance, and may help in your future marketing decisions.
Key Phrases & Key Words:
Being listed on a search engine is not enough to ensure that people will find you through key phrases and word searches. Your website will also need “meta tags” which are tags that the web robots will look for that index content on your site. Having key words in your title line of each page can significantly help you Search Engine positioning.
Knowing what these key words and phrases are will help you continue to develop your content (key words and key phrases) on your website.
Become Expert in Understanding your Website – It’s Your Business!
As can be seen by statistics explanations I have listed here, developing your statistical understanding of your website will take some dedicated time and effort. If you have a good web company that works with you on hosting, support and management – they should be your key contact in terms of reviewing these statistics periodically. But the rewards in this area can be tremendous – today and in the future.
Statistics reinforce your investment in your website, identify results, and give you a clear path to adjustments for future results. They also are extremely valuable when developing a new website – by knowing what the results are from your existing site, you will be much more in tune with the changes and improvements you will need in a new site.
Take the time to understand your website statistics. It will be time well-invested!
Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.