If you’re only using your website statistics to get very basic information about your site, you’re missing the power of analytical tools. Knowing how many people visited your site over a given period of time and knowing what sites they visited are both important to successfully developing a site, but there is far more information to be gleaned from web analytics than these two pieces. That extra information can give you an entirely new understanding of your website.
Is Someone Leeching Your Bandwidth?
Every once and a while, a webmaster will see a huge increase in their bandwidth for no apparent reason. This is sometimes the result of people linking directly to bandwidth-intensive content on their site, such as video or audio. There are tools included in some analytics software that will allow you to track this kind of activity. These tools allow you to track down sites that have hotlinks to your content. These hotlinks allow those sites to serve your content without using any of their bandwidth.
Some analytics software allows you to find out what keywords people used to get to your site. This is important to know. If you look at this information, you can find out two things right away:
The search engine that the visitor came from regards you as at least something of a resource for the keywords that apply.
People surfing the web are using whatever keywords brought them to your site to find useful information
Using this information wisely can improve your SEO efforts!
It’s not uncommon to obsess over search engines when you’re trying to promote your site. Most analytic tools will give you the site that your visitors were on before they came to yours. There is more to be gleaned from this information than whether or not the search engines are sending visitors your way.
First, you’ll want to pay attention to whether or not your visitors are coming from your competitors. If they are, the page that they’re coming to is likely a good alternative to your competitor’s site.
See if they’re being referred by directories or other resources. If one site in particular tends to be sending you a lot of traffic, make sure you maintain your listings on that site and, if available, see if they have a paid way to increase the visibility of your site on theirs.
Time Spent on Page
If your analytics tool lets you know how long someone spent on a given page, this is very useful information. Particularly on pages where you have a lot of content, this information can give you insight into what content works and what content does not. If people bounce right off a page, the content isn’t working. If they usually stay for long enough to read the entire page, then you have a good page on your hands that you want to develop further!
Visits vs. Contacts
If you have a web page that includes contact forms or other ways of getting in touch, make sure you keep track the amount of contacts you get as compared to the amount of traffic you get overall. If you see a big spike in traffic but aren’t getting contacted by any of those visitors, you might want to see if there’s a way you can get them to take action rather than just visiting your page. Some analytics tools allow you to set goals within them, so you may want to consider tracking other measures of site success, as well.
Provided you analyze, understand and keep gathering useful statistics, you should enjoy more of a return on investment out of your site.