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Web Statistics Guide

Website statistics – What do they all mean?

There is a wide range of useful information present in website statistics packages, such as the AWSTATS package used in MoST advanced sites, and the Google analytics package. While many of these statistics define themselves in their title, there is a lot of confusion over what these stats mean and how you should set KPI’s around them (Key Performance Indicators). Because of this confusion, Expert has provided you with a run-down of some of the more confusing terms and has put these into plain English for you. If you are planning a new website design, or any kind of web development, these website statistics will help your business set targets and create a clear path to change a website prospect into a customer, client, or supporter with ease.

Hit– This is the most overstated, overvalued, and irrelevant web statistic used. A hit is a request for a file from the web server. 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 more relevant to a websites complexity than its popularity.

Page View - A request for a file that has been defined as a page. This typically results from an internet surfer clicking a link to load a “page”, and bears much more relevance than hits, as any page loading can have several “hits” for multiple files, and images that are present on the page. Note that in certain sites (particularly flash based sites), the definition of a “page” may change.

Visit - A series of page requests from the same user with a time of no more than 30 minutes between each page request. When 30 minutes elapse between page requests, the visit is deemed to be over. This counts all visits, no matter how many times the same visitor comes back.

Session - A series of page requests from the same uniquely identified client with a time of no more than 30 minutes and no requests for pages from other domains intervening between page requests. A session ends when someone goes to another site, or 30 minutes elapse between page views, whichever comes first. A visit ends only after a 30 minute time delay. If someone leaves a site, then returns within 30 minutes, this will count as one visit but two sessions.

Unique Visitors – Statistics packages track visitors based on their IP address. The total number of unique visitors is based on the number of IP addresses (which can be individual computers, or office networks) that have viewed your site for the period

Repeat Visitor - A visitor that has made at least one previous visit. The period between the last and current visit is called “visitor recency” and is measured in days. The higher the number of repeat visitors, the better. You have something that keeps them coming back for more!

Total visits – the sum of all visits from all visitors to your website.

Impression - An impression is each time an advertisement loads on a user's screen. Anytime you see a banner, that is an impression. This is often used in pay per click advertising such as Google Adwords, and Facebook ads.

Bounces - The number of visits where only a single page is viewed, and the visitor exits – this is undesirable, and if it is happening with any paid campaign, be sure that you review the campaign.

Bounce Rate- The percentage of visits where the visitor enters and exits at the same page without visiting any other pages on the site in between. Aim to keep this as low as possible.

Entry page: The number of your visitors who enter your website through a particular page. When running medium – large web promotions, you may have promotion-specific landing page. Through this, you can count the number of visitors who are using this entry page, and therefore your campaigns effectiveness.

Exit rate - The percentage of users who exit your website from a particular page. High numbers for this statistic mean that your visitor has either:

  • found what they are looking for, and left
  • Completed a purchase and left
  • found your contact form, and made contact (then left).
  • did not find anything useful, and left

Through the analysis of individual pages being used as a point of exit, you can see if they are guiding them through the parts of the site you want them to access, and enticing them further in, or failing in this objective. Use this measure to refine content, and site structure.

Visit Duration - amount of time that visitors spend on the site each time they visit.

Page View Duration– the amount of time that viewers spend on an individual page

Active Time / Engagement Time - Average amount of time that visitors spend actually interacting with content on a web page, based on mouse moves, clicks, hovers and scrolls.

Pages per visit / Page Depth - the average number of pages visitor views before ending their session. It is calculated by dividing total number of page views by total number of sessions and is also called Page Views per Session or PV/Session.

Traffic Sources - How do visitors find your site. The most commonly assessed are below

  • Direct Navigation: Where someone types your url into their browser.
  • Referral Traffic: comes from links across the web, social media, in trackable email, promotion & branding campaign links.
  • Organic Search: This is largely based around Google, but includes other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.
  • PPC: visitors click through from Pay Per click sponsored ads, triggered by targeted key phrases

CTR; Click-through Rate/Ratio - The number of times a specific link is clicked divided by the number of times that link was viewed (Impressions). This is commonly used in pay-per-click advertising, such as Google Adwords, or Facebook Ads to indicate the effectiveness of advertising messages.

CPC: Cost per click - On a pay per click basis, you do exactly that, paying for each time a visitor clicks on your advertisement. Through this measure, you can see how much each click is costing you, and through the use of “conversion pathways”, how you can best deliver a Return on investment for these costs.

External Referrer / links from an external page - This is one of my favourite stats, and of great use to test campaigns, and how well any referral schemes are working. This is a great ROI tool for any campaigns run on external sites, as it tells you what external sites / pages are sending traffic your way.

Internal Referrer - Internal referrer means that that people have come to a specific page from another page in your website. This shows how well your pages are linking together, and prompting viewers to read further into the site.

Landing Page - While your homepage is often the intended landing page for all visitors, often particular campaigns will have specific target landing pages. These landing pages can be tailored to provide campaign specific promotional information, tailored towards your target audience. Through statistics on landing pages, you can assess the effectiveness of these campaigns, and again ROI to your business or organisation.

As you can see, website statistics packages provide a wide range of useful information. Reports can be put together that place metrics together for those that want a deeper analysis, alerts can be established for certain events, and campaign specific metrics can be identified. While this list provides details on some of the more basic website statistics measures, web statistics analysis can get much more complex than these. The web design team at Expert are ready to help with any assistance you require to adjust your site to suit traffic, or if you are after a way to develop web statistics metrics and objectives, contact us today.

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