You do!  We never cease to be amazed by the number of external website developers or web masters who don’t give clients access to their website stats.  Instead sadly, they seem to begrudgingly email the odd bit of information … now and again … when they get round to it … like crumbs from the rich man’s table.

Your website is a vital part of your company’s marketing.  And, like any marketing initiative, you need to measure its effectiveness.  If you don’t have full access to this information, you can never hope to achieve a return on your website investment.  You’ll find some information about using your stats further down this post.

Which stats package?

There are countless website stats packages available.  The most well known is probably Google Analytics.  If you are selling online or tracking pay-per-click advertising (PPC), Google Analytics is very useful.  But in my opinion, Google Analytics is hard work.  Someone who isn’t used to reading website stats might find it difficult.

We recommend Statcounter (www.statcounter.com) and have been using it since 2005.  It is very visual and intuitive to use.  Statcounter provides a wealth of information at a glance, with ‘drill downs’ for more in-depth analysis.  We install Statcounter on all our websites, our clients’ websites, and on our blogs.  The free package is more than adequate for most small businesses, and paid-for upgrades are available for sites with large volumes of traffic.
You can install more than one stats package on your website.  There is nothing to stop you installing Google Analytics for in-depth PPC reporting and Statcounter for every day use.

Your website – your stats!

If you are one of the many who don’t have access to your website stats – do something about it.  Don’t ask for access.  Demand it!  It is YOUR website and YOU need to know how it’s performing.

If you are managing a client’s website, be sure to give them access to their stats and help them understand the information available.  You won’t be giving them good service if you don’t!

What will website stats tell you?

Keywords

Keywords are essential to your site’s optimisation.  Your website stats will show exactly what search terms people use to find your site.  It will show which keywords are the most effective.  This is valuable intelligence.  Rewriting some of your copy to include the most  relevant keywords can improve your site’s performance.

Entry pages

Websites are not like books.  Visitors don’t start on the home page and work their way through from start to finish.  If people are consistently entering your site on a specific page, it means it is well optimised and might contain the most relevant keywords.  You can use this information to improve the performance of other pages.

Exit pages

This information shows where people leave your site.  Of course, they have to leave somewhere, so what does this tell you?  For example: if visitors regularly leave the site quickly after visiting a specific page, it might suggest the content isn’t meeting their needs or answering their questions.  Revising the copy on that page could convert visitors into positive sales enquiries.

Visit length

The average website visit is just a matter of seconds.  You want to encourage visitors to stay longer, read the information and act on it.  The statistics will show how long people spend on your site. The longer they are there, the more likely you are to get an enquiry or a sale.  If your visitors don’t stay on your site, you will need to adjust to content to make it more desirable.

Referring sites

As well as knowing which search engines are sending traffic to your site, you can also use this information to measure the effectiveness of your other marketing activities.  If you pay to advertise on directory sites, for example, but get no traffic from them, you are wasting your money.  Sites which regularly refer visitors might be worth greater investment.

If you use social media as a marketing tool, you can measure its effectiveness by the number of referrals to your site.

Which pages are viewed most / least?

Your website stats show the most and least popular of the pages.  You can see how people travel round your site and which pages have the greatest appeal.  You can use this information to make your content more appealing to the visitor and give them the information they want.

Other marketing activity

Your website stats can help you measure your other marketing activity.  If you use email marketing, mail shots, or advertising for example, you need to know if this is increasing traffic to your website as well as your sales enquiries.

So don’t be fobbed off – if you have a website managed by a third party, be sure you have a good easy-to-understand stats package installed and you can access it whenever you want.

No business should have to depend on crumbs from the rich man’s table. 

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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