Analytics and Web Traffic Programs
First off let me say that every site should have an analytics program of some sort. Analytics or web traffic programs are a great way to see the interaction between your site and visitors to your site. Basically these programs show you where people are coming from where they’re going and what they’re looking at. Most of analytics programs will even show you customer conversion data which is very useful for determining the ROI (Return on Investment) of marketing campaigns. Most programs only require a small piece of coding implement into the backend coding of your page. It’s usually really easy to implement and most analytics programs work well with one another, in case you want more than one analytics option.
There are many analytics programs out there ranging from free to costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most new businesses and smaller sites can get by just fine using the free services. The program I recommend most to clients is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service and probably the most powerful free service out there. I have only encountered a few instances where something more powerful is needed and it usually means I’m dealing with a huge site or a site with automated marketing campaigns; In which case I look toward Omniture and Coremetrics to get the job done.
There are so many options out there that I’m not going to list them here in this guide. Instead, do a search and you’ll find more than enough free and paid programs to choose from.
The Main Reasons for an Analytics Programs
In my opinion the following statistics are the most important reasons to have an analytics program.
Time Spent on Page, Per Visitor
The average amount of time a visitor spends on the webpage in question. Generally you want people to spend a lot of time on a page because it usually means that visitors have found what they are looking for and are reading your content. However, in certain cases longer may not be better, like in the shopping cart or checkout process. On these pages a long time spent on a page may indicate a confusing checkout process or that consumers are second guessing their decision to buy.
Page Views Per Visitor
The average amount of pages a person visits on a site. Generally, the higher the page views per visitor the better. It shows that the content on a site is relevant to the searcher’s search request. It is also good from a publisher’s standpoint because the more page views the more advertising impressions and therefore more advertising revenue. Again, depending on your site’s purpose you may or may not want a lot of page views per visitor.
Bounce rate is the amount of visitors that enter a site on a particular page and then exit the site from that same page. In most cases, a high bounce rate shows that the page-content is unrelated to the visitor’s search. However, this is not always the case because a visitor may have found what they were looking for and didn’t need anything else from the site, therefore exiting. Case in point, if someone came to your site for a currency conversion or word definition, they would probably get all of the information they needed from the page they landed on and then leave your site from that same page.
In the SEM-Search Engine Marketing lesson we learned that conversion tracking works by adding scripting code to your receipt page or exiting page. Once a sale is made, the code on the receipt page sends a signal to the search marketing engine allowing you to see where the sale came from and on which keywords. Most analytics programs have the option of viewing the conversions from the different marketing sources. Each analytics program requires different information but conversion tracking is usually easy to implement.