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What Is Web Analytics

Updated on July 22, 2010

What Is Web Analytics

Web analytics is the process of gathering, measuring and analysing visitor data. Analytics provide a deeper understanding of how visitors interact with your website and provides valuable insights that can be used to increase the visibility and profitability of your online properties

Web analytics software comes in two main flavours, page tagging and weblog analysis. Both interpret raw user data and output charts, graphs and statistics tied to a timeline that accurately reflect visitor trends. This information can provide actionable insights which can be used to fine-tune key areas of your website. As such, web analytics can play a significant part in developing tour website and formulating strategic marketing decisions.

Page Tagging

Page tagging relies on a small piece of JavaScript code inserted on each webpage you wish to track.

Advantages of page tagging:

  • JavaScript is executed and Data is collected from the visitor each time they visit a page rather than when a server delivers a page. Therefore, previously visited pages that have been cached by the visitors browser will still be recorded when the "back" and "forward" buttons are used.
  • Similarly, page tagging also ensures data is collected from regularly requested pages that might be cached by your ISP.

Disadvantages of Page Tagging

  • Page Tagging requires that Javascript and Cookies are enabled otherwise the ability to effectively collect data will be severely compromised.
  • On a large, poorly designed site, where design technology will not permit a simple include, adding page tags can be problematic.
  • Page tagging cannot report on non HTML pages including: Image file hits, PDFs, media files, downloaded files (.zip, .exe, etc.)

Search engine spiders cannot execute the JavaScript page tag, so, if you view visits from search engine spiders as distortion then this is an advantage. If, on the on the hand you want to know how often your site is getting spidered then it's a disadvantage.

There are three main reasons for using analytics:

  1. Support SEO Efforts
  2. Improve Usability
  3. Increase Accessibility

Support SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization drives visitors to the most relevant pages on your website. The concept is simple, similar to the way someone would use Yellow Pages to find an electrician, someone using a search engine to locate the products or services that you sell is highly likely to be in the market for those products or services.

What is your 5 most profitable keyphrases? What are your top landing pages? Which pages have the highest bounce rate? Web analytics plays a decisive role in SEO. It lets you see where visitors are coming from, which terms they searched to find your site, which pages they land on and whether they hang around or immediately hit the back-button.

Analytics gives you the marketing intelligence, based on what works and what doesn't, to make informed SEO decisions. The SEO process then becomes a bit like a feedback loop, getting better and better with every iteration.

Many companies fail to take advantage of web analytics, whether that's through time restraints, or they can't be bothered, or feel it's out with their technically skills. By improving the targeting and visibility of your website, you will increase your market share, raise brand awareness and extend product reach, all of which has a positive effect on the bottom line.

Improve Usability

It's relatively easy to publish a website, with today's WYSIWYG editors and Content Management Systems there is little requirement to gain a working knowledge of HTML and the potential audience is massive. But that does not change the need to understand your audience. By understanding how visitors interact with your site you can help them achieve their goals quicker and easier. If your site "works" the way they do, the user experience will significantly increase and users will return time and time again.

Web analytics lets you see how visitors use and navigate your site. Are they struggling to achieve their goals? If they are, there is very little chance that you will achieve yours! According to IBM, every $1 invested in making your website easy-to-use returns $10 to $100.

Increase Accessibility

It's also important to understand the technology is the technology that is used to access your web pages. By making your pages accessible to older browsers, mobile technology and assistive devices, like screen readers, you can significantly reduce bounce rate because more people will be able to see your pages.

Web analytics will let you see which browsers (and browser version), screen resolutions, operating systems and more. Would you turn away customers from your shop because they arrived in the wrong type of car? No, then make sure you are not turning visitors away from your website because they use the ‘wrong' browser.

If you are serious about your long term success online invest in web analytics. There may be a steep learning curve, but the payoff is huge.

SEO Scotland: Promoting business online with professionalism and integrity.

Small Business SEO Services Scotland


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    • pigfish profile image

      pigfish 8 years ago from Southwest Ohio

      Thank you for your thorough, yet understandable information. Especially helpful for an online novice like me.

    • Peter Hoggan profile image

      Peter Hoggan 9 years ago from Scotland

      internetincomehub and Shalini, thanks for the support and I am glad you found the hub useful.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 9 years ago from India

      Thank you Peter - you explain things in a simple, straightforward, easy to understand way - I like that!

      Thumbs up!

    • internetincomehub profile image

      internetincomehub 9 years ago

      Some very useful, if extremely detailed info here, Many thanks Peter