March 22, 2017

Understanding Website Analytics

Digital and content marketing strategies can only be successfully executed if you understand how your methods are performing. One way to keep your finger on the pulse of your company’s marketing performance is to examine your website analytics. However, if you don’t know the meaning of the data you’re looking at, website analytics might as well be written in another language.

Website Analytics Terminology

To understand website analytics, you have to familiarize yourself with its basic terminology.

  • Visitors/Users: These are the people who click through to your site. There are three kinds of visitors: unique, new, and returning.
    • Unique Visitors: This measures how many visits your website receives from different devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. It’s important to keep in mind that these unique visitors do not necessarily indicate individual people going to your site. For instance, the same person can visit your website on his/her phone and then return later from their iPad. Each one of these instances counts as individual unique visitors.
    • New Visitors: This is exactly what you think, new people navigating to your site that haven’t been there before.
    • Returning Visitors: These are people who visit your website more than once from the same device.
  • Visits/Sessions: The number of instances when a visitor clicks through to your website. Visits/sessions are measured by average session duration and average bounce rate.
    • Average Session Duration: The length of time a visitor spends on your website.
    • Average Bounce Rate: This measurement gauges when a visitor navigates to your website, reviews a single page, and then leaves.
  • Organic Traffic: These are visits from users that found you website via search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
  • Direct Traffic: When a visitor types your URL into the browser to directly navigate to your website.
  • Referral Traffic: Visits to your website from links on other sites that do not include emails, social media networks, or paid advertisements.
  • Social Traffic: Visitors from social channels to your website.
  • Email Traffic: Users visiting your site from email campaigns.
  • Display and Paid Traffic: Website clicks from visitors that came across your business via display or paid search advertisements.

Website Analytics Inform Business Goals

“The first thing small business owners should do before looking at any data analytics program is to get really clear on their goals and objectives,” commented Philippa Gamse, president of Websites that Win International and author of 42 Rules for a Web Presence that Wins.

The reason small businesses review their website analytics is to better shape their goals. So maybe you want to increase the number of clickthroughs to your blog. With website analytics, you can see where visitors are coming from, how long they are staying, and if they are also visiting other pages. Possibly you’re seeing a lot of social traffic to your blog from Twitter but your paid traffic is lower than you’d prefer. This tells you that your social media manager is doing well but your paid SEO employee needs to tweak the ads that are running.  

WordPress Plugins for Website Analytics

The most popular tool for measuring website analytics is Google Analytics, and luckily they have their own WordPress plugin you can install. Another favorite WordPress plugin for monitoring website analytics is Jetpack, which offers a selection of user-friendly features that put the important numbers right at your fingertips. Also, Crazy Egg uses heat-mapping technology to visualize where your visitors are navigating on your website.

Website analytics provide small business owners with an in-depth look into the efficacy of digital marketing campaigns. For entrepreneurs who need a hand managing website analytics plugins on your WordPress site, contact Proactive WP today.