If you’re not paying attention to what visitors on your website are doing, you should. How else are you going to improve your website to capitalize on your strengths and tweak your weaknesses? Without a proper analysis of visitor activity, you are like a man trying to paddle a boat without an oar.
You should receive some basic information from your web hosting company that will help you analyze visitor activity. If not, then you should change web hosting companies. That web hosting company should include statistics about the number of visitors who visit your website, how long they stay there, which pages they visit while they are there, how long they spend on each page, entry and exit points for each visitor, and the less important number of hits your website receives.
Don’t focus on hits, however. A hit is widely misused by people who don’t understand how to analyze their traffic. A hit is simply how many times information has been requested by a server. That can include each graphic on each page. So one visitor to a web page with 25 graphics will register as 25 hits. That is terribly misleading.
A more accurate measure of traffic is the average number of visitors your receive during a certain period of time – daily, weekly, monthly, etc. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that if your traffic keeps going up in a measurably dramatic way that you have built a fabulous website. You should ask other questions like how long visitors are staying on your website, how long they are on each page, and through what doorways they enter and exit. These statistics can give you some clues as to how your website is actually performing.
For instance, if you receive 1,000 unique visitors per month and 80% of those leave your website within 10 seconds after visiting one page then you should conclude that there is something on that page that is making them leave. What is it? Maybe it isn’t the type of information they are looking for, maybe it is the aesthetic of the site, or maybe they don’t like that picture of you and your mother fishing off the coast of Panama. Your job is to figure that out and fix it.
On the other hand, if you find that 80% of your 1,000 unique visitors stay on your website for 4-5 minutes and visit 5-6 pages then you should conclude that they are finding something they like. But what? And why aren’t they buying anything? If they are staying long enough to purchase something and leave empty handed then maybe you are not making it easy for them to make a purchase. Again, your job is to figure it out and fix it.
Another important telling factor is the page into which visitors enter your website and from what source they find you. Are they Googling you and entering an internal page three tiers removed from your home page or finding your index page in a niche regional directory? That’s important to know. It could be a clue as to how you can fix your problems.
Exit points are also important. Are your visitors clicking links and leaving your site? Maybe you should close some doors. Are they staying too long on your site when they should be clicking the links? Maybe the ads you sell need to be better written.
However your website is performing, you must spend some time analyzing your traffic. Use the right tools and figure out how your visitors are acting. Are they acting the way you want them to? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.