Tracking your site’s performance is straightforward: you sign up to Google Analytics, check a box in WordPress or ask your web development team to sort it out. But the best data is useless without analysis: so what do all the numbers mean?
How Many People Saw your Site?
The question isn’t as simple as it seems. Your site can only record certain data – for example, there’s no way to tell if 2 people are sharing a screen, and it’s often not possible to tell if several people are sharing a computer. Instead, your site records total page views, which are the number of times a page on your site was loaded.
It also records visits or sessions. A visit often includes several page views, maybe even dozens or a hundred if a visitor clicks back and forth between products before working through to the check out.
Finally, the most important number is usually unique visitors. This strips out repeat visits, where someone comes back to check something, and lets you know how many individuals are actually viewing your site. After all, 40,000 page views a day is no use if it’s actually 3 people and a bot!
Where Did They Come From?
Knowing how people found your site is vital to your online marketing strategy. Did people respond to that advert? Did they click the link on that blog? What are they searching for? Did they type your URL in?
Sites that linked to you (including ads) are called referring sites. Expect to see a list of URLS with the number of visitors they sent you. If a user came straight to you, without a link or search, this is called direct traffic. Visitors coming from a search engine will usually be listed separately.
What Are They Looking For?
Search terms are a key way of finding out what your visitors are looking for. You should be able to see if it matches what they buy. It’s particularly important to monitor demand, in case you realise visitors are looking for something you don’t supply or are mistaking your page for a different one. For example, our site gets visitors looking for ‘a box of chilli’s’ as well as web development services. We’re not going to start stocking vegetables, but it’s useful to know.