ONLINE MARKETINGUnderstanding you website statistics - the Basics
If your website provider or host isn’t providing you with proper website statistics, you need to get a new provider.
Website statistics are very simple or very complex depending on how in depth you want to go, in most cases however just a few pure numbers and statistics will give you an insight as to how your website is performing.
Statistics definitions with meanings
This is the number one statistic website providers give, and it is the most misunderstood of all of them because it is significantly skewed to maximise numbers.
A hit is just a piece of data sent to another computer. In website terms, that hit could be an image loading, maybe a text box or HTML element, any number of things. Web pages do not load all at once, so each picture, each text element, each piece of code, each item on a website produces a hit. A single web page with just 100 pictures, will generate 100 hits as recorded by your statistics.
Bots are small programs that scour the internet regularly for new things or even for nefarious reasons, and there are thousands of them. The critical thing to remember is that bots aren’t people, they are mostly irrelevant and are recorded as hits.
Imagine ten bots scanning your website of one page with 100 pictures, if each bot goes once, that 100 hits are now 1000 and not a single person has viewed your site.
In this day in age, the “HITS” statistic is useless for the above reasons with the understanding bots visit websites hundreds of times, and every page has potentially hundreds of things to “hit”.
On to more useful statistics
Much like the hits except, in this case, the full page of hits counts as one page view. Still an OK statistic with meaning. If a visitor comes to your website and views ten pages, then 10 Page views are recorded.
The first most useful statistics, this is the number of times an actual person visits a site. Each time a visitor visits your site, they start a “session”. Each session is inclusive of all pages the visitor visits before leaving the site. If they come back, it opens a new “session”. If a visitor visits your website and visits ten pages, only one session is recorded. If they come back later, it counts as another session.
Unique Users are users (based on the address of the computer/smartphone they are on) are only counted once per set period. If a single user visits your website ten times, only one unique user will be recorded. In a week, month, or when the IP address on their computer changes they will be counted again.
This list of specific pages on your website and how many times each is accessed for a “session”. This is very useful when telling you what pages are relevant and well viewed and which pages are not performing or are of little interest to the viewing public.
Users versus sessions vs Page views
This is an actual website statistics for this site over the past week as recorded from Google Analytics – the industry standard for site statistics.
During the same time, another statistics program reported 80 visitors (or users).
Pages per session and session duration tell you if your website is keeping people attention.
Again, from Google Analytics. The pages are looked at by the number of sessions (or people viewing them). This will tell you your more popular pages and those that are less. A new website, not a lot of pages. The first page is the homepage, the second is an internal page, and most of the rest are articles. This article hasn’t been posted yet :-).
If your website provider is not providing you with real-time Google Analytics, request it, if they say no, get a new provider.
If they tell you “hits” and nothing else, ask for more. If they say no get a new provider.
Your site, your statistics. These are the statistics that tell you if your website is working, how it is performing in reality, where improvements can be made and many more things once you delve deeper into things that track the behaviour on your website.