Beyond the Basic Visit and Pageview Reports of Web Analytics

A number of website owners already use some form of Web Analytics tool to track and monitor the performance of their website. However for a variety of reasons – resource availability, higher priority projects and so on – many site owners who do track and monitor rarely go beyond the basic levels of analysis of their data.

While this in itself is not wrong (wrong would be in not tracking or monitoring at all!), it can often lead to incorrect conclusions about performance, misinterpretation of data and, more importantly, missed opportunities to increase site performance.

So what are the basic levels? Well, for example, in many instances data analysis is limited to looking at top level site visits and pageviews. While both can provide an overview of general traffic performance they are only really comparable to the previous day, the previous week or any other point in history since tracking was implemented and, without adding more depth to the analysis, they cannot shed light on data and trends that could be far more valuable to enhancing the performance of your online activity.

Often, as long as there are no significant increases or decreases in visits or pageviews, it’s assumed that all is well with site performance and the analytics software is closed for the day.

So, what data could you be analysing instead?

Every website is different, and therefore the analysis that could be carried out on each site is different. With that in mind, we can’t tell you every possible way to analyse your data, but here are a few of our favourites, which should help get you thinking about other ways you could investigate your numbers.

Referring keywords: An opportunity to increase traffic
Are there keywords that are generating traffic from Search Engines despite you being on pages 2, 3 or lower? Would focusing some time on improving rank for those specific keywords deliver a higher level of traffic to your site? A referring keywords report can quite often highlight longer tail, less competitive terms that could deliver a quick win for traffic growth by focusing just a little resource on them.

Source to Goal Correlations:  Make sure you’re focusing
Social Media, SEO, PPC, Affiliation, Email Marketing – you could be using all or some of these channels to drive traffic to your site, but do you really know what impact each is having? What are you measuring as a “goal” or “conversion” and how are you determining which channels deliver most efficiently? Creating correlation reports is a very good way of finding if the resource you’re putting in to certain channels is delivering the conversion levels and revenue per conversion levels that you’d expect. For example, you might find that source A generates less visits and less orders than source B, C and D, but in fact generates a higher revenue per order than each, making it a valuable channel for higher level sales. Alternatively, you might find that source X, which requires 80% of your promotional time to manage only accounts for 20% of your conversions, while source Y, which you focus on much less, actually delivers 80% of your conversions.

Onsite Site Search: Increasing interest through listening
An effective way of reducing bounce rates and increasing the interest levels of visitors is through implementation and tracking of a site search facility. Tracking a site search facility allows you to monitor what visitors are looking for on your site and, more importantly, allows you to find areas where small improvements could lead to increased conversions. For example, a number of users searching for “Blue Widgets” and being faced with 0 results from your site search are quickly going to think you don’t sell Blue Widgets. This could be fixed by optimising your “Blue Widget” service / product page in such a way that it starts to appear in your search results. Relative results appearing in your on site search results pages will increase the likelihood of extending the users time on your site compared to a results set with 0 results  or unrelated results.

Performance of your online channels can be improved significantly by analysing beyond the general top level visits and pageviews reports, and acting on the data you find. Correct implementation of your analytics software is crucial in allowing for accurate data and, the more elements of your activity you can track, the greater the wealth of data you’ll have available to analyse and act on.

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