How To Analyze Website Traffic And Improve Your Site
Every website has at least 1 web analytics application running, but we rarely utilize it. What we may see are only figures and colourful charts. Data is most useful in decision making when we could fully extract and transform them into understandable information.
Let’s take a look at rangit.com‘s site statistics for the month of August 2007. I use the free Google Analytics. Everyone ought to, actually.
New vs Returning Visitors
A traffic overview page should exist in all web analytics. It allows you to get to know your site’s traffic and their communication with your site’s structure and design. From here, everyone should be able to delve deeper to diagnose the contrasting visitor subdivisions and examine the influence that produces the quality of average page views, time on site, bounce rates, etc.
Know the people that you are attracting to your site. Get a clear picture of the visits, page views and quality measures of your site’s progress and achievements by geographic region. The general info gathered on this page is enough to help make several important decisions.
Most websites have advertisements. Knowing the origin of the majority of visitors will help you in getting advertisers. For example, if the majority of visitors are from the US, then it is relevant to sign up advertisers targeting the US market.
Another thing is, if you are a blogger from Singapore and majority of the visitors are from US then it helps to know when to strategically publish your daily articles. For example, 8am in the morning US time, to cater to the lunch break crowd.
Large crowds of new visitors generally mean that you are pretty good at getting traffic to your site while large crowds of returning visitors would suggest that the site content is engaging enough for visitors to come back.
The result of your effort is in the form of this graph. It indicates the success of your intent. Let’s say you’ve added a lot of related content, links on all your pages at the start of the month and update your site daily. If you hit high on return visits, then it’s good news. Otherwise, keep improving your site. There are always forums where you can get helpful opinions and suggestions. Try DigitalPoint.
The language shown in the report is the language configured on their computers. I know from my statistics that 80% of visitors to this site prefer English and differ with others in site usage, and other measurements. Awareness of the language used helps in creating favorable content and fully utilizing your marketing spend. This report complements the countries overlay. Different countries have different populations speaking different languages that present crucial market targeting opportunities.
This is the most basic measure of any website analytics application. It’s the measurement of how well you’ve promoted your site. Here are some examples on the useful stuff you can get out of the visits report.
- You may have changed your keyword purchases and would like to know if it landed you more visitors or not. This report is your answer.
- You may want to know if stopping certain ads would affect your visitors. This report is your answer.
- You may have started a marketing campaign and want to know the effectiveness magnitude. This report is your answer.
- You may have moved moved up in search engine rankings for a particular search term and want to know if it improved your traffic. This report is your answer.
Pages / Visit
If you get between 1-2 page views per visit, relax, it’s normal. About 55% of others fall into the same category. If your site has been setup to interact, then you should be getting high page views. Only 2 things will cause high average page views.
- The right visitors.
- Quality, effective, original content.
If your page views are below 1.5 pages per visit, then you fall into the lower portion of the normal population. Low average page views is an indication to focus more time on the 2 factors mentioned.
The measurement of how many visitors leave after viewing the entrance page. The lower the bounce rate, the higher the quality of the visit. Average bounce rates vary according to websites and any average given would have so much variance it would be meaningless. Move at your own pace, improving it from month to month. 2 things that influences bounce rates.
- Marketing. Whether if the campaign is bringing in the desired visitors or not.
- The landing page. If the visitor enjoys what you have to offer, and you manage to hold their attention with an informative, attractive and user friendly website design, you will have low bounce rates.
Browsers / OS
Knowing which browsers and operating systems that your visitors use the most allows you to optimize your site’s technical capabilities to make it more engaging and user friendly which usually leads to higher conversion rates. This report serves as a reminder to make sure that your web site works for that browser.
This site’s visitors use 22 different browsers and 10 different operating systems. I personally check my site on Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera only, since they make up 97.42% out of all visitors. And if you ever want to cross check your website across all other browsers, OS or screen resolutions, you can do so easily at BrowserShots.
Looking at my screen resolutions report will tell me that it is time to change my theme. Currently, it’s width is at 780 pixels to accommodate the 800×600 users who now make up only less than 3% of my visitors. As you can see 9 out of the top 10 users have screen resolutions above 1000 pixels wide. I have already found myself a super, duper cool, smashing new theme for myself. I’ll be customizing it this weekend and hope to roll it out by next week. =)
From the report, I know that around 3% of my visitors are on dial up. About 60% are on cable and DSL, which means that it is alright to have media running around without thinking too much. If you noticed, most of my articles are accompanied by visuals and each image averages to about 65kB. For broadband users, especially cable, it’s like taking a walk in the park.
However, if a majority of your users are made up of dial up, try minimizing images and keep your main content as text rich as possible.
The traffic trends report. Get an overview of your site’s performance here.
- Direct traffic comes from typing the URL into the browser or clicking on the browser’s bookmark. As long as it comes from the person itself and not from any other site, it’s considered direct traffic.
- Referring sites are visitors who came upon your site from another site. As long as it is not direct nor from a search engine, then it is considered referred.
- Search engine traffic consist of visitors who came from the search engine result page.
This type of website traffic could be potential customers looking for you because they heard of your site from a discussion forum, saw your ad somewhere offline in print or on television, or they might have found you by directly typing in your web site address. A good web site statistical application should allow you to pit direct traffic over city, visitor type, etc. Traffic of this type spend more time on the site if compared against other types. If you have offline campaigns running, high percentage of direct traffic is an indicator of success.
Visitors coming from other websites. This is about the quantity of links to your site. To me, referral traffic is the 2nd hardest type of traffic to get because it is influenced 100% by the quality of the content on your web site. If it is interesting, cool, attractive, original then you’ll naturally get link love. Recycling material will most often lead a person away to the source.
The 2 direct benefits of referral traffic is that it heightens the awareness of the existence of your website and it also increases the value of the site. Directly. Moreover, you will definitely receive a regular source of traffic from this type of traffic.
There are so many ways to push up this type of traffic but the most importantly, as I have said before is the content. Traffic maketh not the website, but website maketh the traffic. Here are some examples to bolster your site’s referral percentage.
Try building relationships. Leave constructive comments around blogs and forums that you enjoy visiting. Write more than 10 words. For example, a constructive comment at the bottom of this article may sound like, ‘Holy shit, Chris! Your suggestions and ideas and explanations are extraordinarily profound. The part I like best is about referral traffic. Everyone who owns a website should read this piece of yours’. =P
You can even write articles for others. Be a guest blogger in other blogs. As long as your guest article rocks, your referral traffic will rock too.
Search Engine Traffic aka. Organic Traffic
The most important and hardest type of traffic. This determines whether if you have a successfully sociable or a lonely website. It’s a BIG deal to get naturally motivated high search engine traffic. It is necessary for any website that intends to generate sales or be noticed. Everyone who uses the internet uses search engines, as they are the tools that provide you what you are looking for. Always aim for the high search engine rankings, like getting on the first page, which will eventually bring up your search engine traffic because too few look past the first page.
Search engine listings are the best as they are the most relevant and free at the same time. As a result they are the most beneficial in 4 ways.
- You get stable, steady, constant, regular traffic.
- Pay nuts. Save on advertising. Build dollar note mountains in your room.
- Get targeted traffic. Visitors get what they are looking for from you. You become of value to the search society.
- More sales = more profits. More profits = more dollar note mountains.
And nothing else will bring you the desired result except by understanding and applying these 2 rules of thumb.
- Unduplicated, unique content is king.
- SEO techniques that are solid, white hat and full of quality. I promise you will be 35 steps ahead of others if you follow these 35 simple SEO directions carefully.
As you can see, above are the top 10 keywords that brought in organic traffic to rangit.com in August 2007. Go ahead and try it. Enter any of the keywords above into the search engine and tell me what you find. =) And that, my friends, is an example of a successful organic traffic keyword listing done by simply applying the 2 rules of thumb above.
As of writing, I know my article is better than any of the top 10 listed. However, a good website statistical software should be able to allow anyone to segment search traffic by search engine or any other factor. A better one, like Google Analytics, even allows me to segment referrals from a particular keyword by city and visitor type.
This report acts as an indicator of success to your site’s search engine rankings for the keywords listed. If your site is small, don’t look at the percentage of visitors. Instead, look at the number of visitors coming in for each keyword. It’s clearer and you can pick up the patterns faster. Of course, if the site is huge and there are thousands of visitors, only then it is relevant to look at the percentage of visits.
Above is a report of the top 10 titles that were most responsible for driving pageviews in August 2007. I can also see the time spent on page, bounce rate and % exit. I’m glad to see some 3-4 minutes average along with one 6 minute average. It shows how well that particular article has done. Overall, I’m happy with the attractiveness of my site.
Ask anyone what they expect from their own website and their response would be to attract visitors. Of course it doesn’t come easy. A lot of time and effort is needed to shape and deliver valuable information for the pleasure of others. Oh yeah and good content is defined by :
- Structure of point delivery
- Quality of grammar, punctuation and spelling
The idea is to keep a balance between what the readers want, what the search engines think they need and what they really need.