If you own a website, whether it is business or personal, it is important to know if you are getting any visitors and what they are looking at on your site. Over the years, there have been many options created to track this data, but it has always been aimed at web designer’s use rather than the owner (who often isn’t as savvy on how to interpret the data).
One of the most popular and more recent developments has been Google Analytics, which to the average user is very intimidating and hard to understand and use in a way to gauge traffic to your site, but to an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist or web designer is a must have.
Another Google tool is the Google Webmaster Tools, which offers insight into Google’s view of your website, the impressions it is getting (meaning it shows up in search results) and any errors encountered when Google searches your site. These tools are aimed at web designers and SEO Specialists and work well, but are hard to understand for the average user.
Another option has always been the built in tool with most website hosts- Analog Stats, but this doesn’t show actual unique visits to your site by different people, but just how many page views there have been (usually a lot more than the actual number of visits). Analog stats works by pulling data from the actual log file of the web server, showing every time a file has been downloaded or a page visited, but doesn’t separate this information on a per visitor basis. This tool is good however for the purpose of finding missing pages or bad links.
Customized Stats by The Smiths Design
One of the recent projects we have undertaken at The Smiths Design was to create a stats system that is easy for the end user to understand, installed entirely on the website (no talking to another database somewhere), and provides up-to-the-minute data (Google tools are about 3 days behind, Analog stats are usually 1 day but sometimes up to a month behind depending on the web host). Our system was primarily created to track orders from a website, but can be customized to serve any purpose.
These statistics show:
- The number of unique visitors to your site
- What pages they visit
- What keywords they are using when searching and finding your site
- Where visitors are coming from (other sites or search engines)
- What region they are from
- What operating system / browser they are using
- What their browser screen size is (this is important to a web designer to know what demographic to target when doing page layouts)
- Bounce Rate
- Exit Rate
- Stats on a per webpage basis (just see how a single page is doing)
- A breakdown of every page a single visitor sees and the journey they took through your site
- Ability to track different “campaigns,” meaning visitors from a link such as an online banner ad, etc. can be tracked separately from regular viewers
A key statistic our system records is bounce and exit rate. Bounce rate refers to how many visitors leave your site on the first page they view, meaning they don’t explore any further. Exit rate shows the last page a viewer sees before leaving. Both of these stats can be used to find pages that are causing your viewers to leave, whether they are confusing, boring, etc.
Sometimes these numbers don’t mean much, such as if your contact page has a high exit rate, it may mean that viewers are just using it to find your location or phone number. A high bounce rate on a page may mean that your site is showing up for search terms that aren’t really relevant to your site, or you show up in Google Image Search and viewers are simply looking at an image on that page.
If you are interested in finding out how we can implement this statistics system on your website, we would be happy to provide consultation.