Analyse This: The Numbers Behind Web Analytics
Today, it’s easier than ever to monitor the success of your website. We’re blessed with an array of companies that promise to provide insights into metrics like bounce rates, referring links, time spent on site, page views, audience locations and much more. The abundance of data available about your visitors is unrelenting. But how easy is it to know what data is most important and how to convert these metrics into a means of boosting your site popularity along with the money you’re making?
You may find that there’s no shortage of insights available but plenty of shortcomings when it comes to interpreting the wealth of data available. Analytics can be a fast-paced environment filled with lots of information that can point in all sorts of directions. So let’s delve beyond the analysis and look at the cold hard facts surrounding web analytics and how these statistics can help you to attract more visitors online:
Getting your sources right
It’s vital that your website has a steady stream of traffic arriving from a range of sources. Diversifying your traffic is a great way of gaining some valuable insights into what works in attracting your target audiences and what doesn’t. The four key sources of traffic stem from Organic visitors, Pay-per-click visitors, Referral visitors and Direct URL visitors.
The chart above shows that 50% of visitors are likely to arrive via organic sources. Organic traffic happens without the necessity of direct marketing attempts from the website in question - or at least that’s the idea.
However, organic traffic can be optimised in a way that makes your website appear more prominently for potential visitors to click on to. Through the right blend of keyword research and content creation, your pages can appear more prominently on search engines like Google, in a way that will draw visitors in.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is another popular form of generating traffic, and as Lexiconnect shows, accounts for around ⅓ of all traffic that can appear on the pages of a fully optimised website.
PPC is big business, and can often work wonders in placing websites in unmissable positions online. PPC is so big, in fact, that 7 million advertisers spent over $10 billion on this form of advertising in the year of 2017 alone - and if that wasn’t enough, 62% of marketers are still planning on expanding their PPC budgets in 2019.
One of the most prominent PPC tools out there, Google Ads, is capable of reaching as much as 80% of global internet users. This makes sense, as 63% of all searches online are conducted through Google - with 191 billion queries run through this search engine alone on a monthly basis.
Referral visitors and direct URL visitors are rarer and tend to come alongside a fair level of grafting and outreach from website owners.
Successful websites can generate visitors from all key channels through effective marketing and advertising techniques, but naturally, PPC visitors are easier to generate provided that you’re aware of your target audience and are prepared to launch an advertising campaign designed to reel them onto the pages of your site.
The value of audiences and samples
Web analytics is a data-rich field of varying metrics that differ wildly depending on the quality of your site, the industry that it’s immersed in and the level of marketing you’ve undertaken.
While many website building platforms will offer a degree of insight into where visitors are navigating from and the views your specific pages are attaining and when, you might find it useful to call on a specialist service to provide richer levels of insight into your website’s performance.
Above is a collection of some of the metrics offered up by Finteza. While this platform goes into a rich array of detail, websites like Google Ads and SimilarWeb also have an enviable range of insights.
This piece focuses on the numbers behind web analytics and there’s certainly a lot of numbers available when it comes to analysing your audiences and their samples - but there are a few significant ones to watch out for, too.
Significantly, you can check where your users are navigating onto your site from, this is a great means of checking if your ratio of visitors matches the chart in the previous point. If your organic visitors aren’t accounting for a very large portion of your visits, it could be that your strategies need tweaking to increase your prevalence.
Another great metric shows the volume of visitors you receive and whether or not they’re navigating onto your pages for the first time or are returning browsers. This, again, is significant because it will provide a greater insight into the quality of your outreach and customer retention rates.
It’s also possible to monitor which platform users are arriving from. This metric has increasing importance today, due to more and more browsers hailing from mobile devices. If you’re receiving very few mobile visitors, it could be down to an error in your AMP setup, or you’ve failed to use a layout that’s friendly to smaller devices.
Linear trending data
It’s vital that you use web analytics to ensure that your site is continuing to grow and to nip any emerging problems in the bud.
If you have access to your page views over the previous year, you can identify emerging linear trends by monitoring your average traffic form general increases or decreases over long periods of time. In the example above, we can see that site viewership is steadily improving and in fact peaked at the turn of 2013.
There could be plenty of reasons for this peak, perhaps an engaging piece of content was created that drew widespread attention, or perhaps a high-quality website referred to the site in question within a popular list.
However, as Abhinav Sharma notes, these metrics can still be prone to unexpected deviations. Be sure to regularly monitor your website’s traffic, but stay on the lookout for signs of problems up ahead. Monitoring your pageviews can keep you abreast of any potential losses of engagement opportunities, and if your data forms a negative trend it’s time to act. But at the same time, make sure no metrics are left ignored as you steer your website - because if one chart shows an anomaly, there’s a good chance another chart will show a logical pattern.
Measuring traffic quality
Sadly, not all traffic is as organic as you might think. In fact, many of the visitors you’ll receive will be of a robotic nature - and some of them will have bad intentions for your website.
The majority of ‘bad bots’ are made up of ‘impersonators’. This strain of bot disguises itself as a human user in order to circumvent a website’s security system and is a useful tool for unleashing DDoS attacks on a website through the sheer volume of impersonators trying to make requests on a site at the same time.
Luckily enough, bad bots account for less than ⅓ of your visits, with 48.2% of those browsing your site tending to be a little more human. However, nearly 23% of visitors are made up of perceived ‘good bots’ that aim to index your pages, fetch feeds and simply checkup to make sure everything’s okay on your pages.
Web analytics platforms have become intuitive enough today to keep on the lookout for potential ‘bad’ traffic and return the results for website owners to analyse.
In an online space that’s driven by numerical analysis, it’s important to know that you’re welcoming human visitors. With the right set of metrics, you can make sure your website is optimised for fewer bad bots, and plenty more people.