If you were told, for example, that your website got 6,000 hits last month, would you be concerned or pleased? After all, 6,000 hits seems like quite a bit doesn’t it? The fact is that 60 unique visitors could generate 6,000 hits quite easily in any given month depending on how your website is constructed and by the end if this article, you’ll know exactly why. Analytics 101: Web Traffic Statistics and Why You Need Them Web Traffic Statistics is information collected about visitors to your website. When analyzed correctly, they can give you massive insight into the needs of your customers, give you numbers you need to make educated changes and fill those needs, plus enough information to be able to identify and correct problem areas on your website. Analyzed incorrectly, they can cause you to sabotage your own success with misinformed decisions, incorrect numbers, or assumptions based on old analytics practices/myths like:
MYTH: Hits are a good way to measure the success of your website.
FACT: In early web years, “hits” were a marginally accurate representation of how many visitors you had because web pages weren’t overly complicated. Many users never went past a page or two on a website because there were generally only a few pages on each site. With advanced technology capable of producing more pages and multiple images used to create many web pages today, measuring the number of visitors with “hits” has become obsolete. Be wary of any company that talks in terms of “hits” to your site.
"What are Hits?"
Without getting too technical, hits are actually how many times a file is requested from your website. This means that if the web page your visitor lands on is constructed using 50 little images, and some other external files required to display the web page correctly, then 1 visitor could easily rack up several hundred hits in a single visit.
The Least You Need to Know About Web Traffic Statistics
While there are many things to learn about Web Traffic Statistics, to make a wise choice that will benefit your company long-term, you should arm yourself with at least this basic information:
1. Decide what metric(s) you need to improve in order to accomplish goals you’ve set out for your business website. Would you like more people to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want more sales from a particular geographical area? Do you want more customers to request information? These metrics translate into reports in Analytics so you can assess your progress towards achieving your goals.
2. Evaluate the size and scope of your business. Are you a medium, large, or small company? Do you offer services globally? Locally? Larger companies with a greater scope will likely need feature-packed, industrial strength analytics tools while a smaller business will need something more basic and affordable.
3. Evaluate Resources. Statistics are just numbers if there is no one there to dig in and discover the hidden meaning behind them. Do you have a marketing department that can analyze the data to provide insight? Will you hire an outside company to analyze them or will you be doing this yourself? Having this information before you get started researching a solution will allow you to match the right analytics software with the needs and capabilities of your company. An internet marketing company should be able to recommend a good analytics solution for you based on the information above.
How to Get Started
The Good News: Web Traffic Analytics doesn’t have to be expensive. Google has given site owners access to a free tool called Google Analytics as part of having a Google Account. Google Analytics was originally a paid website traffic statistics program. Don’t let the price tag fool you though. Google Analytics is loaded with tons of features and reports; many of which you probably won’t use or need but it’s customizable enough so it can be made to display only reports about the metrics that matter to your business. It can even be configured to send out an automatic report daily, weekly, or monthly to whatever email address you choose.
The Bad News: It takes a little bit of technical experience to get it set up and working correctly and the larger your website the more difficult and time-consuming this could be. If this is the case you may want to hire a programmer for a few hours to get this all working for you. On the other hand, if you know a bit about programming websites, a little about marketing, and your site isn’t too large, set up & configuration shouldn’t be too challenging for you to do on your own. Either way, you’ll have a very sophisticated website statistics tool which, if you’re a small to medium sized business, will likely be a good match for your needs. If nothing else it will give you a good starting point for analyzing your web traffic.
Hopefully by now you will see that statistics isn’t just about “hits”. It’s about looking at the numbers, figuring out what’s working, and taking steps to gradually improve over time. Statistics should be used more like a compass offering guidance rather than just a pulse-meter and no website should ever be without it. To find out more about Web Analytics, contact us.