Understanding and aggregating web statistics
Understanding and aggregating web statistics for your site can be
useful, but also very confusing. Here's the basics of what every person
analyzing stats needs to know with a link at the bottom to more detail.A Hit:
(the most over used and irrelevant number for most site owners to look at)
request for a file from the web server. Available only in log analysis.
The number of hits received by a website is frequently cited to assert
its popularity, but this number is extremely misleading and dramatically over-estimates popularity.
A single web-page typically consists of multiple (often dozens) of
discrete files, each of which is counted as a hit as the page is
downloaded, so the number of hits is really an arbitrary number
more reflective of the complexity of individual pages on the website
than the website's actual popularity
. The total number of visitors or page views provides a more realistic and accurate assessment of popularity.
**In other words, forget about "Hits" when looking at activity on your web site. It's irrelevantWhat should you be looking at?
It's really a combination of all of the aggregated data that tells the story.Unique Visitors:
These are actual people viewing at least one page of your site, on at
least one occasion during the period being logged. If I look at your
site, from home for example, I am a unique visitor from that particular
IP address and computer. If I look at your site tomorrow from the same
location, I am still only counted as 1 unique visitor from that
particular address. If I look at your site from the office however, I
am counted as an additional "unique" visitor in the log as I am
accessing the site from a different IP address and computer. So, you
can see, that they are "unique" in one sense, yet not in another. Taken
with a grain of salt, unique visits is a reasonable measurement of
activity, although the actual number of truly unique visitors is always
less than the number counted.Number of Visits
actual number of "visits" made by unique visitors often identified by a
"timeout" duration. If I look at your site at 8am and again at 8:30am,
that may be counted as 1 visit, or it may be 2, it depends on the
"timeout" duration configured on the web server. If I look at your site
at 8 and then again at 10, and after lunch at 2 and then before I leave
at 5, in most cases this represents 4 visits by 1 unique visitor that
day, but not always. Again, it depends on the configuration of the
stats package on the particular web server.
total number of pages (as defined by the analytical program) viewed by
unique visitors during the reporting period. In most stat packages you
can break these down by the year, month, week, day and even hour.Duration:
Probably one of the most important aggregated numbers to look at is
duration of the average visit. If 95% of your unique visitors are
looking at your site for less than 30 seconds, you either have a
serious problem, or you're giving them everything they need instantly.
The average "real" visit to a site is somewhere
between 30 secs and 2 minutes, obviously, the longer the better. You
want to see numbers above 2 minutes, these are your visitors that are
actually interacting with your site and viewing content. (as opposed to
just grabbing a phone number, address, etc).
Which Pages are visitors looking at?
is key information about your sites, it tells you both what visitors
are as well as aren't looking at. Knowing that people viewed 32,418
pages on your site is important, but even more important are knowing
which pages they aren't visiting. If you have important pages that
visitors aren't viewing, you can take steps to correct it. Are the
links not evident enough, are there links to the page at all, what page
are the links on, how many views does "that" referring page get...etc,
etc. Look at the pages that no one is seeing, find out why.Keywords and Key Phrases:
at the keywords and key phrases people are using to find you. These are
the "real" words they are typing in that resulted in them finding your
site. Think about finding your site from the seekers viewpoint. When
viewing, ask your self these simple questions.
Links from an external page
- Are they the right words?
- Are they looking for something else and finding you?
- If it's an essential word or phrase, is it being used enough, in the right places (i.e, on pages people are actually viewing)
there words you would expect to see there that aren't (maybe you're not
actually using them anywhere, or there are too few occurrances of them)
are they typing in, what are they searching for when they find your
site? This helps you determine if you are using the right/wrong
keywords, enough of the right language etc, on your pages.
linking to you? Stat packages track where visitors are coming from as
well as where they are going. I am often surprised to see links from
external sources I have never had contact with, sometimes good,
sometimes not so good. Follow these links and see where and why they
are making reference to your site. You may want to be associated with
them (the visitors bureau, the chamber of commerce, a vendor) or you
may not (someone who writes poorly of you in a blog perhaps, or uses
your name to decieve visitors and drive traffic to their own pages).
If you're interested in learning even morehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_analytics#Key_definitions