What is Web analytics and how to Improve Your Website?

Last updated: 10/30/2019

What is web analytics?
How do I use website analytics tools?
What are web analytics services?
Why are website analytics services necessary?
What are the best practices for a website analytics service?
Do I need web analytics software for my website?

Web analytics is a powerful resource for any business with a website or online presence. By monitoring the way that potential customers interact with your website online, you can tailor their experiences to increase your sales, clicks, and conversions. Web analytics

While web analytics may seem complicated for someone just starting out, there are useful software and services available online that will make your analytics easy to customize and understand.

What is web analytics?

Web analytics monitor the way that users interact with your website through their behaviors and activities. It is the entire process of collection, analysis, and reporting of data generated from the interaction of the users with your website.

 Video about web analytics 

The reports from the analytics tools allow webmasters and marketers to understand user interactions such as the length of time they were on the site, which pages they visited, and if they clicked on links or filled out forms.

In general, you’ll see these types of raw data in your web analytics reports –

  • Web Traffic: The number of incoming and outgoing website visitors you receive within a given time-period
  • Views: The number of times a page has been viewed
  • Clicks: The number of times a link has been clicked
  • Unique visitors: First-time visitors to your website per day, per week or month
  • Bounce rate: Seen often in Google Analytics, the percentage of visitors that leave the site quickly without interacting contribute to the bounce rate
  • Conversion rate: The rate of visitors making purchases from your site, signing up for newsletters or subscribing to a service
  • Organic traffic: Visitors that arrive at your website directly from a search engine and not from social media or other blogs
  • Direct traffic: Visitors that come to your website by going to your address directly and not from a search engine

Web analytics allow webmasters or marketers to set key performance indicators (KPIs) or benchmarks to measure the level of success of the various elements of the website, including calls to action (CTA), subscription options or form sign-ups.

How do I use website analytics tools?

A web analytics tool lets you see visualizations of user interactions with your website. At a base level, they report on simple website usages like visits and pages viewed. Beyond this, many of these services offer data analysis tools to better understand and interpret the information. You are able to use the tool as a data manager, where you can analyze numbers from different data sources and date ranges.

Your website typically has goals, such as obtaining email addresses or converting a visitor to a purchaser. You can define key metrics (or key performance indicators) to track interactions that are important to your website. Funnels can also be used to watch a customer's path through a website and see where they may lose interest or stray from the intended course.

Finally, behavior maps allow you to see a visual representation of where people view and click on individual pages. It can show you which links are successful and which areas are causing trouble or distractions for the user.

As we will see later, one website can have more than one KPI, and each KPI can demand a distinct tool for monitoring and reporting. Therefore, how you will use the tool will depend significantly on its purpose and suggested use. Moreover, the choice of web analytics tools might also rely on the bulk of your business data, and your market reach.

What are web analytics services?

A web analytics service is an application or agency that performs data collection, then lets you view and analyze the information. Most services will allow the marketer or webmaster to see detailed charts, graphs, and visualizations of the data about their web users, often in real time.

A majority of website analytics tools focus on consumer insights and customer behavior. However, web analytics services can also monitor other aspects of your online presence like social media discussions and posts. They can help you distinguish the traffic coming from different social media channels and give you enough information to make the right decisions.

Some web analytics services provide a custom analysis of your data to assist with pages that suffer from low conversion rates and create custom visitor profiles. You can get a detailed assessment of page quality directly. It can tell you how the data on individual pages are performing and whether potential consumers are traveling down the sales funnel from those particular pages.

Finally, a web analytics service can help you monitor A/B testing that you implement to improve your site performance, ensuring the changes only become permanent if they work well. Website analytics gives you insight into the changes that will work best for enhancing the performance of your website.

Why are website analytics services necessary?

Every website has a set of specific purposes or goals. A website's sole purpose can be serving information about products, services, or news on current situations to the visitors. Every set of goal comes with a set of objectives – these outline the measures necessary to achieve these goals.

Calls-to-action or CTA link the objectives of a site to their goals. The CTA in your webpages can range from registration forms to "Buy" buttons embedded within the content. The only way to measure how each CTA is performing is by monitoring the website metrics or key performance indicators (KPI).

For example – it can be organic traffic from keywords related to website analytics and auditing, or the page’s CTR through similar or related keywords.

There can be a plethora of KPIs your website might have to rely on for measuring the site’s success. Which metrics are necessary for measuring the success of your website will depend upon your site’s CTA and goal significantly.

For example, marketing and e-commerce websites may need to keep their eyes on more than 15 different metrics to measure the performance of their platform. Sales, leads, visit-to-sign up rate, bounce rate, unique visitors per month, sessions, the average duration of each session, percentage of new visitors, traffic assessment by source and dwell time are some critical KPIs that influence the performance of an online retail or marketing website.

To measure such diverse types of KPIs, you need to pick multiple tools. While most webmasters shy away from the task of selecting and using more than one tool to run website analytics, it is indeed necessary because each tool has been optimized to test the different metrics of a site.

For example, for experimentation and testing of new content and features, A/B testing tools or multivariate testing tools are the best. Keyword research tools and competitive analysis tools are appropriate for market research and competitive analysis.

Sometimes, wielding multiple tools for monitoring the performance of scores of KPIs becomes daunting for the website owner or webmaster. That is one of the primary reasons you need a website analytics service.

When you are working with professionals, there is a good chance that they already have all the tools necessary for website analytics, and they have the experience required to use the tools to yield accurate results from the analysis. Statistics show that website analytics works in favor of marketing and online retail sites by providing them an almost 100% return on their investment.

What are the best practices for a website analytics service?

Website analytics provides both quantitative and qualitative results after analyzing the KPIs of your website. It is critical for the website analytics service you pick to abide by the best practices of website analytics to provide you with the most accurate results.

  • Backing up reports and conclusions with enough data

The website analytics service you choose should not only be able to tell you if you have met your website goals and sales target, but they should also be able to help you work on your KPIs. A website analytics team should be able to point out if your site has value-adding content that is not getting enough traffic, or how you can change the layout of the page to improve visibility and UX. It is necessary for the team to engage multiple tools like engagement analysis and user path analysis to find the correct answers to engagement or traffic flow problems your site might be facing.

  • There should be no superficial reports containing only data

New website owners often make the mistake of believing that pageview, visits, and top source reports are enough. However, you need something more in-depth and specific to learn about the reasons for the decrease in organic traffic. A report with only numbers is definitely not what an enterprise needs to boost its organic traffic flow and conversion rates.

  • The data on every report should be coupled with insights

Apart from providing you with the numbers on the traffic reports and top view reports, your website analytics team should provide you with relevant data that shows which parts of your website is highly successful, which areas are losing traffic and what points require immediate attention. Without the expert insights, data remains useless irrespective of its accuracy.

  • Use of individual tools for assessment of different KPIs

Any website analytics service you pick should know the importance of pan-session KPIs for assessing the performance of a site. For example, comparing the user-lifetime value and new visitors acquired over the last couple of months can help you understand if your site performance has improved over a previous couple of months.

Working with a website analytics service can provide you with a simpler report that compiles the KPIs from your website. It is easier to understand a single report with reduced complexities as compared to perusing tens of different reports coming from individual website analytics tools you might be using on your own.

Do I need web analytics software for my website?

If your website is for a business, it’s a good idea to use web analytics software. In fact, if you have a website that generates revenue for your business, you need website analytics.

It’s essential to understand who is visiting your website, how they use it, and what they are looking for. Analytics allows you to understand customers that you would typically not know existed. The visitors that come to your site don’t provide information and don’t interact often have an apparent reason they left your website empty-handed.

Just like you would perform market research to understand why customers say no to your business in person or leave your retail store without making a purchase, you need to hear what your online customers have to say. Their feedbacks and actions can be more insightful than you can imagine. All the hints for website improvement and UX enhancement lie in their actions.

Websites that focus primarily on e-commerce or lead generation will see the most benefit from using web analytics software. Website analytics enables each website owner and webmaster to understand their consumers. It will allow them to monitor their customers, change the trouble spots on their website, and improve the conversion rate of new customers.

However, even small business websites can benefit from seeing how their customers interact. A website is one of the initial investments of a small business. It only makes sense to want to know how your investment is performing after a couple of weeks or months after its launch. Website analytics can tell you precisely how every page, CTA, and element on your website is engaging the consumers, and which parts require immediate attention.

Also, if you do not have a form or cart on your website, you can still seek out traffic to learn about your business or act on contacting you. Actions like time spent on your site and bounce rates of organic traffic can be monitored, and their user experience can be improved using web analytics software.

Website analytics is vital for every website, especially when Google is rolling out new updates, to ensure that you are keeping your eyes on the right metrics at the right time. Investing in website analytics can pinpoint at the factors responsible for reduced traffic and low sales. It can highlight the traffic and conversion trends for your site, and it can tell you precisely what changes your site might need to improve its performance.