Building a website whether you’re selling products or creating a blog or another information-based site has always presented a challenge. You have complete control over your content, but virtually no control over who’s consuming it. Analytics have been part of the Web world for years, but many site owners haven’t fully explored them out of fear that they’re too difficult to use.
That was true in the 1990s, when the only way to get good data about your website was to use specially designed software to analyze your Web server’s log files, but that isn’t the case anymore. Thanks to a handful of agnecies and Web services, anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the Web can use a Website analysis tools to draw deep insights about their site’s visitors: Where do they live, when do they come to the site, how long do they spend there, and, critically, how many of them are coming every day? but most importantly coding factors that help your website rank higher in search engines.
The Website analysis market, once vast and fragmented, is now very small. In fact, it has become largely consolidated between two companies: Google and Adobe, who together command about 90 percent of the analytics market (depending on how you count). IBM, Web trends, and Yahoo all offer analytics tools, but none are major players in the market today. Yahoo recently announced that it would be shutting down its analytics service later this year.
Here’s a typical scenario: The owner of a website/blog about animals finds that a picture of a cat sitting on a toy spaceship accounts for 20 percent of the past month’s traffic, and StumbleUpon is the major referrer, with most of the traffic coming in a two-day span. The site owner then tracks down 100 more pictures of cats on spaceships, dutifully posting them all, but none of them perform well.
Meanwhile, a deeper analysis of the top 100 posts would have shown that the site’s primary content written advice about pet health, let’s say makes up 50 percent of the past month’s traffic, and those posts are evergreen in nature, consistently generating traffic month after month, largely from Google. Long after the cat picture has been forgotten, these posts will continue to thrive. What the site owner should have done was continue to produce these pieces, building up more and more “long-tail” content that search engines and users find valuable. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore the fluffy “dessert” of the Web because people always want funny cat pictures but focusing your site on the meat-and-potatoes items will keep traffic growing and reduce frustration.
The bottom line: Unless you’re a veteran, use analytics as a tool to generate broad insights about your business and to tease out long-term traffic trends. Don’t focus too much on what happens from day to day. Knowing what happened last Monday is less valuable than knowing what tends to happen every Monday. Always use the longest time horizon you can when examining trends. Locate the points where the trend lines undergo a change (did traffic rise until a certain day, then plummet?) and figure out why it happened.
Analytics can tell you only the who, what, and when…and almost never the why. But to get there you will need to make sure that your content contains no major infractions. What make us unique? We won’t use automated scripts to generate your analysis. We combine both technology and human talent to carefully analyze your online store front.
Still not sure? Talk to us, we would love to help you