Finishing building a website can feel like a huge relief, a time to relax. One of the first things you should do, however, is make sure you’re keeping an eye on website analytics. Analytics offer a wealth of information about your website and can help you make your investment even more effective.
Getting website analytics
The first thing you should decide is what type of analytics you would like to use. Google Analtyics is a full-featured, free analytics service that can be easily integrated with most websites. Most web server companies also offer some form of basic analytics on websites they host. Webtrends, Yahoo Analtyics and several other companies also offer analytics. The most basic analytics will count hits to your site and page views, but even basic services usually offer more. No matter what analytics service you choose, check with your web designer or follow the service’s instructions for installing the analytics on your site.
Basic web analytics terms
When you are looking at web analytics, many of the terms sound similar. Pulling apart each one for its unique meaning will help you make more sense out of your analytics results.
- Hits: The number of times your server has provided a copy of your webpage to a viewer. Hitting “refresh” on a browser results in another hit, so this is often the highest number
- Unique visitors: This is the number of individuals who visited your website. A unique hit is usually registered any time someone uses a new computer to visit your site.
- Pageviews: The number of individual pages on your site that were loaded. Ideally, this number should be higher than the number of unique visitors. That indicates that visitors are clicking around your website, exploring what you have to offer.
- Traffic sources: This tracks where your traffic comes from. Direct visits are anytime a visitor directly types your web address into their browser. A referring website is a website with a link to your site that someone clicks on. An “organic” source comes from a search engine.
- Keywords: The words and phrases that are being typed into search engines that result in visits to your site.