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Introduction to web analytics 

By Paul Wilson

Analytics of user behaviour on your website can provide valuable data about your site’s performance and insights into how you can improve it. 

Data from web analytics tools – including Google Analytics and Web Trends – not only helps identify your return on investment in website, but also offers valuable insights into how you can improve: 

  • the number of visitors to your website  
  • your site’s usability and 
  • the effectiveness of any promotional campaigns you may be running. 

Web analytics tools can provide a range of information. This includes: 

Web usage data 

This can be used to identify ways of improving the way people find your site and use it and includes: 

  • how many people visited your website 
  • how they reached your site (e.g. search engine, paid advertising, referring websites, social media channels, emails and e-newsletters) 
  • if they used a search engine to reach your site, what keywords they used 
  • what devices were used to view your site (desktop computer, tablet, mobile phone) 
  • which pages they used to enter and exit your site  
  • how much time they spent on each page 
  • how many other pages they visited  
  • how many of your website goals were achieved (e.g. the number of new/repeat visitors, the number of visits converted to sales, the cost of marketing per sale, how many people engaged in online chats with sales or support staff) 
  • the download speed of your site (long download timings are punished by search engines as they are not considered user friendly).  

Customer data 

This type of data can help you identify whether you’re reaching your target audience and includes: 

  • which geographical area visitors come from 
  • what their interests are 
  • how many visitors were new or returning. 

Competitor data  

Some specialised software will also provide information on your competitors, including: 

  • who your competitors are 
  • how your website’s performance compares with theirs 
  • what are they doing better than you 
  • their online marketing budget. 

Metrics that matter 

Your business goals determine which of the many available metrics are the most relevant. Examples of business goals that can be measured against include: 

Increased search engine rankings 

If you want to increase search engine rankings for particular terms, you can use web analytics to identify the keywords people are using to reach your site. You might find these words differ from the keywords you’ve been using in online metadata or content. Implement new keywords and re-check your rankings after a few weeks.   

Online marketing  

You can measure the effectiveness of targeted marketing campaigns to increase visitation on your website.  

Using web analytics, you can not only identify if there was increased visitation from people in your target locations, but also how many visitors were referred to your site by targeted promotional tools you used (e.g. programmatic display ads, social media and paid links on search engines).  

You can also measure the performance of paid external advertising to drive more web traffic to your site through the following categories: 

  • Impressions: the number of people who saw your online advert 
  • Click-through rate (CTR): this is the number of people who have clicked on an advert as a percentage of the number of people who have seen the ad. 
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): the average cost of acquiring a potential lead or customer through an advert. 
  • Conversion Rate: the number of people who have undertaken a specific call to action (e.g. buying a product or filling in a form) as a percentage of the number of people who have visited a website. 
  • Cost Per Click (CPC):  the cost of each click on an advert that leads to your site  

Key performance Indicators (KPIs) 

You can also report against your business’ KPIs, which are your high-level objectives. Examples include: 

  • sales and leads growth 
  • lead-to-sale conversion rate 
  • net profit margin   
  • customer satisfaction.  

Web behaviour  

You can also set up measurements of just about every type of web behaviour to suit a variety of needs. These measurements include the number of 

  • web visitors who create a user account  
  • people who click on an online phone number to make a call from a mobile phone 
  • web users who download a particular PDF 
  • times a web form is completed or abandoned 
  • a video is watched or podcast listened to (including completion and abandonment)  
  • times an external link to your site is opened, copied or hovered over. 

Specialist knowledge 

Finding your way around web analytics software can take time. But more importantly, it takes experience to know how to analyse the data to create meaningful insights. Using the experience and skills of a seasoned analyst will lead to timely and measureable improvements to your site.  

Analytics of user behaviour on your website can provide valuable data about your site’s performance and insights into how you can improve it. 

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