Monitoring Website Traffic is Critical. Here are some simple steps.
Thanks for visiting. You may be visiting this page because of our post on Facebook about traffic to this website in particular, and monitoring website traffic in general. But even if you otherwise made it here, we’re glad you did! Guess what? We’re monitoring traffic to this post. Ah, you knew that already. We can know where you were before arriving, how you were referred to this page, how long you spend here, and where you go next. (Don’t worry, we don’t know who you are individually and are not going to try to figure that out.) Why would we care about any of that, and why should you care about traffic to your website? Well, we believe that websites should be put to work. Your website should be delivering new potential clients or customers to you. Monitoring and evaluating the data your visitors produce helps you to know whether your website is doing its job. Are visitors going to the pages you want them to go to? In the order you want them to? Are they spending a lot of time on site or or just dropping off? What’s the last page they visit before leaving? Your website traffic statistics answer these questions. Here are some
Basic tips to gather and analyze website traffic
(or, in other words, how not to let your visitors simply get lumped together like a basket of potatoes)
- Use Google Analytics. It’s the gold standard for website traffic monitoring. And it’s free.
- Filter out your own traffic. You know you visit your site quite a bit. No need to skew the data with your own traffic. Here’s a post on how to filter out your own (and your mom’s) website traffic to your site.
- Filter out “bad referer” traffic like that from semalt.com and buttons-for-website.com. That traffic is junk traffic and skews data negatively.
- Google Analytics collects a ton of information. Pay attention, among other data points, to:
- Number of visits
- Number of visitors (there’s a difference between new visitors and those who come back more than once)
- Bounce rate. How many visitors hit your site and leave without visiting any additional content?
- Duration of stay. Does your content keep people on your site for a while? Is your site sticky? The more they are there, the more they remember you. Here are a few tips for a “sticky” website.
- Visitor flow. Where do visitors go and how do they get there? Do they go on your site where you want them to? Is the flow different based on the visitor’s geographic location?
- Location. Where are your visitors from? Are they local or from China? Does it matter? Is your message reaching your target audience?
- How are people finding your site? Organic search? Referrals from social networks? Direct hits? Paid advertising? Note that as people increasingly are logged into Google while searching, you may not know what key word search terms many (if not a majority) of your visitors used.
- Goals and Events. Do you want customers to sign up for an email newsletter or freebie white paper? Give you a call? Complete a contact form? Are they doing that? Track it!
These pointers do nothing more than scratch the surface. The bottom line is that you must monitor your site’s traffic to gain an understanding of whether your website is working how you want it to. [Edit July 2015: Google Analytics has been filled increasingly with garbage data by bad actors. Here are some tips on how to eliminate bad Google Analytics data.] If you’d like help with this, please let us know. We can help you to understand your site traffic.
Check out our video on Google Analytics
[Some time after publishing this blog post we put together a video on some of the basics of Google Analytics. We hope you find it useful. To get to the meat of it, fast forward to 7:00.]