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What is Web Analytics and Why is it Crucial for Online Marketing Success?
Do you know what your website is telling you? A crucial part of your online marketing efforts lie in understanding your website traffic patterns. If you don’t know how people find your site, what they do once they’re on your site, how long they stay on the site, what they respond to and what they reject, you won’t achieve maximum online results.
Look at your website traffic logs
Information is collected as visitors find and move through your website. This information is displayed on what is referred to as “traffic logs.” This marketing data is pure because it is collected mechanically as visitors move freely throughout your website. Your website offers unprecedented opportunities to gather visitor and customer behavior data. Keep reading to learn more about this valuable information source.
Traffic logs provide key indicators of online marketing performance
Before diving into the wealth of data available through these logs, let’s clear up a common misconception that exists amongst most business executives: “hits” really aren’t a sound indicator of website traffic. A “hit” is counted every time a visitor requests a page or every individual image that a visitor requests. This means that the vast majority of visits generate multiple “hits” per visit. Ratios of “hits” to individual visits can be quite high.
The first section of the traffic log shows visits and/or visitor sessions. This is the indicator to use concerning site traffic measurements. This section also shows the average time per visit spent with the website.
Pay attention to the most requested and least requested page information contained within the traffic log. This is great information for business development purposes as well as many other applications.
Traffic logs show what is known as “top entry pages.” These are the first pages that a visitor sees when coming to a website, and great sites drive entry traffic to multiple pages, not just the home page. The information contained here helps you determine what is driving the traffic to your site. It also assists in helping make decisions concerning overall site navigation.
Logs also show what pages visitors use to exit your site. At a minimum, these exit pages should match your expectations and should contain strong call to action statements.
Some visitors only visit one page of a website and then go off the site. These “single entry pages” again reveal a lot about your site. Your site may be too slow in loading, may not have contained what the visitor is looking for etc. There is a myriad of potential strategies and tactics revealed in the page information within the traffic log.
Find out where visitors come from and what keywords drive the visit
Traffic logs will let you know which search engines send you website visitors. They tell you what links generated site visitors for you. They’ll tell you what search keywords and phrases people use to find your site. They’ll even let you know what call-to-action initiatives on the site produce the best results.
Low cost data for online marketing and entire business marketing applications
Information from traffic logs is pure data that is gathered mechanically through visitor actions. There is no outside human influence in data collection, making it an invaluable part of your entire marketing efforts.
Web analytics value is found in the answers to these basic questions
The high value of regular review and analysis of your website traffic logs (along with a few other key performance measurements we’ve previously written about) is directly reflected in your online marketing ROI. To see the value in another way, look at the answers analytics provides to necessary business questions:
• What do people do when they visit your site?
• Is that what you want them to do?
• Where are they coming from?
• What terms are they using to find you?
• What other websites send visitors to yours?
• What activities generate the most sales or lower costs of sales?
• How long are people staying on your site?
• Much More
It’s nearly impossible to reach your full potential in anything without measurement and analysis of performance and accomplishments. A website is no different. Take the time to regularly review and analyze these logs for improved internet marketing results.
© 2005 Brian Offenberger. All rights reserved. Brian Offenberger owns the copyright to this article. You may distribute it freely as long as you keep the article, its copyright and its byline intact.
About the Author: Brian Offenberger is a certified eMarketer, professional speaker on eMarketing, RSS, and search marketing, and host of weekly radio program “Online Marketing with RSS Ray.” He is also the founder and managing partner of search engine marketing and web analytics company, BizGrowth Search Engine Solutions. He can be reached at 877.837.8803 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Brian’s website at http://www.bizgrowthseo.com for more details and to view his other free reprint articles.