Analytics • 237 Marketing + Web

If terms such as “metrics” and “analytics” seem like made-up buzz words to you, you are not wrong. These new phrases have popped up in recent years to reflect our current focus on data mining and statistics and how they pertain to returns on investment. But just because the terms are new doesn’t mean they are mysterious and difficult. There are many reasons to care about your website analytics if you really want to accomplish your site goals.

Let’s define what analytics are

They are numbers that reflect a lot of different things about your website and blog traffic. Basically, every time someone visits your website, the program logs information about them (using their IP address) and how they use your site. If you have a WordPress site or blog, your analytics program is built right in. However, there are many different services that offer site-visitor metrics such as Google Analytics and KISSmetrics.

Still, you may be wondering why you should care about a bunch of numbers. Here is why: They tell you whether what you are doing is working, how you should change what you are doing and what you should do in the future. Think of website metrics as a sort of spreadsheet. Just as you look at sales goals, upcoming orders and expenses on a traditional spreadsheet when planning for the future, analytics allow you to do the same thing for your website.

OK, so where to start on understanding your numbers? We’ve created this basic overview to help you get started. This is by no means a complete list; rather it’s a way to dip your toe into the analytical water.

Unique Users

These are completely distinct visitors who have visited your website during a set period of time, regardless how many they’ve visited. Unique visitor numbers are important because they indicate how many fresh eyes are seeing your content. This is one of the most quoted numbers when it comes to touting the success and popularity of your site. You can learn all sorts of things about your unique users, including their location, age and what date and time they visited.

How to use this info: You should do what you can to make sure this number rises each month. You may want to post fresh content during peak usage hours and tailor your blog posts to the audience you seem to be attracting. If you are not attracting the right audience, you should change your overall strategy.

Repeat Visitors

People who repeatedly visit your site during a set period of time are considered returning users, again according to their IP address. These are people who are either finding a lot of helpful information on your site, who are constantly purchasing your products or who are regularly reading your blog. This is also a number you want to get bigger each month.

How to use this info: Again, looking at who is enjoying your site, where they live and what their demographics are can help you adjust your message. If you sell men’s winter jackets but are getting tons of hits from women in tropical climes, you could be doing something wrong in your marketing strategy.

Search Engine Traffic

The primary reason you are blogging in the first place is to get more attention from search engines, right? We all know that fresh content can help your search engine rankings. So the number of hits you are getting from each search engine is vitally important to gauging your success. Plus, you can investigate further to discover what search terms visitors are seeking – then make sure those keywords make their way into your blog text.

How to use this info: Search engine traffic stats tell you whether you are likely to meet your goals for attracting visitors. If you don’t see progress in this metric, make an adjustment using keywords you glean. Or, it could be that you have a technical problem on your site that isn’t allowing search engines to index your site. It’s vital that you correct these problems immediately.

Pages Per Visit

No matter whether a site visitor is unique, new or returning, you want them to click on as many pages as possible once they are on your site. This metric can be tied to “time on site” as well. People should find your content informative and helpful enough that they are willing to spend some time with your site, learning about your company or organization.

How to use this info: If your analytics indicate that people are only viewing two page per visit, that can mean many things. First, they could be there just to get your phone number, and after they have that, they move on. But it could also be an indication that you need to have more and better content available on your site.

Referrers

This metric shows which webpage visitors were on just before they came to your site. These previous sites offered a click-through link to your URL, so they could be anything from a search engine to an advertisement to a related blog.

How to use this info: This is one indication how well your advertising, networking, engagement and SEO efforts are working. You can tell how many visits were prompted by your new Facebook ad or from industry blogs or social media posts. Home in on what is working well and do more of it!

These five metrics are by no means the only analytics at your disposal, but they can be some of the most informative numbers. You might be surprised how much cool data you can mine from these statistics. Then don’t be afraid to use them to improve your website and your organization.