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Analyzing website traffic - know where you are today so that you can get to where you want to be
Understanding your position by analyzing website traffic is a key component that will determine your success online. Without analyzing your website’s traffic, you are no better than a horse that has been put blinders on. You don’t know any better but to go the only way you can see. It’s hard to get to where you want to be if you don’t know where you currently are.
It’s difficult to determine success when you can’t measure it. With the online space so vast and large, many people often wonder what must be going on in cyberspace. The good news is that contrary to popular belief, there is more certainty and availability of concrete data in the online capacity – thanks to website analytics software.
Website analytics software is a tool you can use to learn the many trends and behaviors of your website’s visitors. These programs provide you with a Hypertext Markup Language (“HTML”) script that you imbed in the code of your website. The script has no visual effect to the visitor but it tracks and collects all the traffic data that goes through your website. This data is massaged to provide you with various kinds of reports and statistics that are not only helpful but are necessary in my opinion for your success on the Internet.
In plain EnglishA good website analytics program will track who visited your website, when they visited, what pages they browsed, how they entered your website, how much time they spent on each page, when they left, what page did they depart from, what items they placed in the shopping cart, and the list goes on and on.
Many even get as detailed as to provide you with your hourly traffic results by the day. That is how powerful website analytics reporting can be. The key is of course to use it to your advantage to get more website traffic!
Let’s say you get 500 unique visitors (define a unique visitor) and 5,000 page hits a day. You can easily estimate how many pages each visitor is viewing on an average basis using these numbers (5,000 divided by 500 = 10 pages viewed per visitor). Ok now let’s say that you only received 15 orders from the 500 visitors on your site.
By studying the analytics data you will be able to determine what exactly happened from the time your visitors first entered your website and the time they left. You will know what webpage they were on last before they left. Did the shipping page turn them off? Did the registration page turn them off since it took too long to register?
Studying this data will tell you the cause and help you make the modifications necessary to increase your sales or conversions. Now that you know what is actually happening within your website, you can anticipate your visitors’ behavior in the future.
So a combination of knowing what your visitor did, what his next move likely is and whether or not he had a good experience on your website, you will be able to provide a better and more wholesome visitor experience. The best part about analytics is that you receive all the data real time as activity is being conducted on your website.
Best UseYou can also rank which external websites your visitors are coming from as well as the pages on your website that visitors visit the most. Based on this information you may decide to advertise more on sites that are sending you the most visitors to increase traffic some more, or choose to advertise heavily on your own webpage where the visitor concentration is high. You may also decide to create similar pages that will attract similar amounts of traffic.
And let’s say you want to keep your visitors on your website longer and increase your sales. By finding out where you are loosing potential customers in the shopping process through analytics, you may decide to entice your visitors by providing more incentives to shop.
You will also be able to determine if the way you are packaging your products is effective or not by modifying the packaging and monitoring the correlation to it in sales. These are just some examples of how powerful and useful analytics can be if its broad features are used. The bottom line is that this tool allows you to experiment with different strategies and track your results to see what truly works and what does not.
Most analytics programs will allow you to customize your view. Some have a dashboard or control panel section where you can design a summary view that contains the data you are most concerned about. This will ensure that you have exactly what you want every time you log into your program. You can modify your summary menu as you become more comfortable with the other features your program has to offer.
SEO, SEM & Search EnginesConstantly monitor your visitor behavior and keep working hard on Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”). Your ongoing SEO and Online Marketing efforts will be reflected in your visitor traffic results. Each time you implement a new marketing or SEO technique, you can measure the benefit by studying the correlation in your website’s traffic.
It is very important to stay on top of the results you are getting from your efforts, even if you are having someone else optimize and market your website. For example, just because you have submitted your website to search engines does not automatically guarantee that the engines have indexed your website and are showing it in organic search results.
You need to check your analytics results to see which search engine is sending visitors your way and which isn’t. Contact the ones that are not and make sure they know who you are and start sending traffic your way. There may be search engines out there that specialize in your website’s subject matter. If that is the case, make sure you contact those engines and ensure that they have indexed your website.
Best Bang for your BuckBy now I hope I have made my point on how critical it is to have an analytics program and use it consistently. A good program will provide you with the vital information that can guide you in improving your website, your customers’ experiences and revenues. That being said you don’t need to go out there and buy the most expensive program.
It is true that often the price of the Analytics program is directly correlated to its features and capacity. However, you may not need all the bells and whistles that come with the basics. I used GoDaddy’s hosting for the first website I created. They had a section under my account that gave me basic statistics such as page hits, unique visitors, etc.
So where do you start? The available choices are overwhelming, but the good news is that even the smallest online shop can afford many of them. In fact I recommend if you are just starting up online, you should not spend any money on Analytics software. I like Google Analytics a lot.
It is a full blown sophisticated analytics tool that has gotten rave reviews from experts in the online industry. It is easy to use and has very good functionality. Google also provides a conversion script, which you can implement on your shopping cart page and it will tell you how many of your visitors convert into customers. It is all 100% free!
All you need to do is sign up and create an account. You will receive an HTML script that you can add to the footer of each page of your website and just hours later you are good to go with live Analytics data. No worries, the script has no visible implications to your website visitor.
Advanced FeaturesMany newer high-end analytics packages have visual menus where you can see your actual website and the percentage of people who click on each link. If you are a visual person, this may be something of interest to you. Keep it in mind while shopping for Analytics software after gaining some experience using the free tools.
I advocate using the free tools at least for 9-12 months. I want you to gain some experience so that you know exactly what you need when you decide to purchase an analytics software package with more complex features. HitsLink is the best analytics software package available.
How much to spend?I have seen analytics software as much as $10,000. This is a one time fee that you pay to purchase the software package. The biggest nuance with this arrangement in my opinion is that you will need to update it as new features and functionalities are added to the software to stay on top of the analytics game. You may very well decide to opt out of the add-ons and use the package as is. Some high end packages that are expensive usually include the updates for free.
The cheaper route to go is to pay a monthly fee for an analytics solution. I have seen these services start at $24.99 all the way up to $79 per month. The benefit of going with the monthly route is chances are any enhancements to the functionality of the software will be pushed down to you for your use at no charge.
In my opinion, if you are serious about your online business and are looking for a long term solution, take your time researching the packages that require you to pay upfront. Make sure that you won’t be charged any recurring fees as you will be paying a hefty price to begin with. Make sure that you are getting all the functionality you want and need.
I’m not saying that you should go with software that only provides the basic data. In fact, if you are doing well online, go ahead and spend the money on sophisticated analytics software – but make sure you use it. All that good stuff is no good if no one is putting in the time to study it and take action accordingly. All data is useful at some level and more is always better in this case. All software tracks the same type of online data. The differences lie in how one software packages and arranged the data versus another.
The more sophisticated and expensive software will slice and dice your online data unlike the less sophisticated ones. There will be so many reports and so much data that you will hope it stops at some point (and this is not a bad thing at all). As your business progresses and you develop more comfort around the various features of the analytics software you are using, you will be able to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of your software.
Analyzing Website Traffic SummarizedI hope I do not disappoint you when I once again say that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to which analytics tools to use in analyzing website traffic. What I do know for a fact is that you don’t need a program that will tell you what time of the day your traffic is at its peak when you don’t really have a use for that information.
You need to do a cost benefit analysis and determine if you really have a need for what you are paying for. First, determine what components of data you need to understand your business performance and measure your success and second, get the program that will give you these measurements that is within your budget.
So what seemed like an endless empty space is a lot easier to get your hands around than you thought right? Granted there is way too much going on in Cyberspace with the millions of websites that are out there. However, what are you most concerned with? As far as what you are concerned with, technology like analytics software has made our lives as website owners like living in heaven.
There is not much you cannot learn from Analytics from the comfort of our own places of operation (wherever they may be). Now if you wanted to see what your visitor looks like in person, you may want to consider another advanced form of technology - Just be careful not to get in trouble by breaching any privacy rights ?
Knowledge is power. And the better you understand the visitors and their behavior on your website, the better you’re going to be at converting them to becoming customers, signing up for your service or whatever other offerings you have for them on your website. Simply having a website is not good enough.
Consistently tend to your visitor data in analyzing your website’s traffic and spend your time and effort on SEO and SEM strategies to constantly improve your website and your customers’ experience.
Good luck to you.
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