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Analysing your web traffic

07 Mar 12

Everyone knows how important it is to have a website today. Just as important though is getting people to visit your website. In order to improve your web visibility and traffic you need to understand what is driving your current visitors to the site and how they are behaving once they arrive. 

The good news is you no longer have to be an IT specialist or web expert to gather or interpret this information. There are a myriad of tools available to analyse your web traffic, many of them free and simple to use. The most obvious is Google analytics, which requires a simple code be inserted in your site (usually in the header) and then it does all the work. 

Once you have the information you will be able to decide what things on your site you should be improving and what things are working exactly as intended. 

What information?

This is your starting point, so take the time to really think through what is working on your site already and what things you are dissatisfied with and why; knowing that will help you answer the following questions:

  •       Which keywords and key phrases are bringing people to your site?

  •       Are numbers of visitors from search engines increasing, decreasing or remaining static?

  •       Are most of your visitors coming from search engines and if so, which ones?

  •       Which pages are getting the best search engine traffic?

  •       Where does your website rank for certain keywords?

Once you have answered those questions, you may (and probably should) want to examine the experience your visitors are getting on your site. 

  •      What are the most popular entry and exit pages - in other words where do most people start on your site and where do most people leave?

  •       How many  new visitors are you getting compared to repeat visitors?

  •       How long do visitors spend on your site?

  •       How many pages do they visit?

  •       Is your site being bookmarked or receiving comments? Are people subscribing to your newsletters and offers?

  •       Are visitors signing up to your RSS feeds?

Once you have amassed the answers you should be able to see some clear patterns and trends. If, for example, you see a steady decrease in search engine traffic, you may need to consider your search engine visibility.  If you see visitors are leaving your site very quickly you need to widen your analysis slightly. The first question to ask is whether visitors should be staying longer, and this depends on what your site is designed to achieve.  

If your site is providing information, products, or services it is reasonable to assume people will need to spend more time on your site than if they are simply looking for a ‘quick fix’ to a problem. If people are leaving without reading or buying, you need to look at your content and find ways to improve it so people stay longer. How? Start by going back to the data you have collected. What pages are the most popular - get the most visitors, who stay the longest and who engage with your business? 

On the other hand if your site is offering solutions to problems clients may have, spending a long time on the site may be an indication your content is not quite providing the information they are looking for. Again, go back to your data and look at the pages that are working. 

Once you have the information for analysis, you can begin to make decisions about your site. In fact this may be the time to hire a consultant who can give a more indepth analysis of the information you have gathered and advise you on your next steps.