The Basics of Analytics
“My website is getting a ton of traffic. I’m doing something right!”
You’re right. Maybe.
Here’s the catch. If you’re selling peanuts, don’t pat yourself on the back because you managed to enter the zoo. If you haven’t reached the elephants, it’s all for naught.
So… what is good traffic vs. bad traffic?
This is a little easier to distinguish. Good traffic comes in the form of people who are engaged. Bad traffic comes in the form of a visitor who stays for .01 seconds, and has absolutely no interest in going beyond that. Thusly, one can assume they have absolutely no interest in your product.
Google Analytics provides a wealth of data that allows you very easily determine how you’re really doing in relation to reaching your audience; the elephants.
This is the total number of new sessions that have begun on your site in the time period queried. This is not the number of people who have viewed it. If Bob enters the site, leaves to make a sandwich, then comes back, it’s two visits. One person.
This is the TOTAL number of pages that were viewed, regardless of who viewed them. Similar to Visits, if Bob decides to look at one of your pages, exits your site, makes a sandwich, then enters your site to see that same page again, it’s two views.
Here’s where it gets important. This is the first piece of data that tells you whether or not you’re getting to the elephants.
Pages/Visit tells you – as you might assume – the average number of pages that are viewed on any given visit. Like Visits and Page Views, it could mean that it’s Bob looking at two pages, leaving, then looking at the same two pages. So it’s really one person. But that’s not a bad thing. It means that Bob likely has at least moderate interest in something you’re selling. More than likely, it’s two people who have a level of interest beyond looking at your homepage. That suggests engagement. And quality.
If you find that your pages/visit is at 1.01, and it doesn’t move much, it means one of two things:
a) you’re being heavily targeted by a funky and evil machine sitting in a foreign land (often China or India). It has no interest in peanuts. It couldn’t care less how good they are. It doesn’t even know you sell peanuts, actually. It’s sole purpose is to collect information about your site. It’s searching for cracks to get through. It’s collecting email addresses that reside on your server. It’s considering you a prime candidate for future spamming. Though it’s big, grey, and ugly, it’s not an elephant.
b) Your content is lacking. Your homepage message isn’t resonating with visitors. You’ve managed to attract them somehow, but something was lacking in your homepage copy. They’ve obviously not found a reason to go deeper into your product. And that’s a problem. If you find yourself with great traffic numbers and low pageview per visit, it simply means that you’re not enticing anyone with the language you’re using.
Taking a few minutes to analyze not how many visits you’re getting, but starting to understand what’s happening once visitors are there will give you clear evidence of whether or not your site is “working”.
The cost of leaving your site as is can be immeasurable.
The cost to fix it?
The next post in this series will cover Bounce rates, Average time on site, and % of New Visits.