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5 Fundamentals of Web Analytics

What do you really know about the people visiting your sites? Do you know which nationality converts best for you? How about your most active visitor, do you know his or her name?
If you hesitated while answering any of those questions, you’re likely leaving plenty of money on the table and need to get a handle on web analytics.
Though it’s often overlooked, web analytics is a simple process that can serious raise your monthly revenues. Here the five fundamentals of web analytics you need to understand.
1. Most Viewed Pages and Paths
Analytics is all about connecting the dots to come up with a bigger picture view of what’s happening on your sites. That means you need to both understand which pages are most popular with your readers, as well as what they’re doing afterwards.
Google Analytics includes an easy to use app called Visitors Flow Tool that make tracking this vital information very easy.
Some key findings to look for include:

  • Bounce rates – Are readers looking at a page and then leaving the site completely? That’s a signal to either improve your content or firm up your call to action.
  • Conversion – Remember there are many different kinds of conversions. You might notice that some types of content has higher conversion rates for data harvesting than deposits.  Whatever is happening is important and worth knowing.

2. Personal Information
Collecting personal information from your site visitors is another often overlooked essential of analytics, but it’s very simple to do. The key is keeping it in an opt-in format and clearly outlining what you’re going to do with the information in a simple privacy policy (there’s a list of free privacy policy templates here).
So how much information do you really need to be collecting?
In a recent CAP Webinar titled, How To Optimize Your Site for Maximum Conversions & Revenue, design expert Tim Ash suggested keeping things simple. He recommends just gathering e-mail addresses in the beginning to make things as easy as possible.
3. Geographic Data
Your conversion rate almost certainly varies from country to country which makes understanding geographic data an essential of web analytics.
In a blog posting on SEOMoz titled, Web Analytics and Segmentation for Better Conversion Optimization, the author points out that overlooking location can lead your whole business off track. So don’t overlook this easy-to-track metric.
Want to learn more about designing a site built for converting? Check out Conversion Optimization Case Study.

4. Frequent Visitors
Is your site optimized for return visitors or frequent visitors? If it’s not, it should be.
In a recent blog posting about advanced A/B testing techniques, Paras Chopra, founder of Visual Website Optimizer, pointed out some methods for using this technique to increase conversions amongst repeat visitors. Greeting return visitors with a welcome back message personalizes your site and makes it more appealing to your core audience.
5. Referring Site
Knowing where your traffic is coming from is just as important as knowing your bounce rates.
Referral information is also critical for getting your link building efforts back on track in the Post-Penguin world. After all, if you’ve been guest blogging like crazy and not getting any traffic, that’s something you’d want to know.
Getting a handle on site metrics is easy and, in most cases, practically free when you use common tools like Google Analytics. For a good primer on this subject, we highly recommend, Measuring & Tracking Success, an analytics primer from SEOMoz.