Running a website without web analytics these days is like driving at 120mph down the highway in total darkness without your headlights on.
Maybe you’ll make it out okay; probably you won’t.
However, with so many web analytics tools available out there, the entire subject of website analytics can get pretty overwhelming, quickly.
In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of web analytics metrics, the importance of website analytics reports, and what the best website analytics tools are for use in your business.
The Oxford dictionary defines “analytics” as:
“Information resulting from the systematic analysis of data or statistics.”
So, Web Analytics is information regarding your website, which you have obtained as a result of systematic analysis and statistics.
Web analytics allows you to analyse traffic to your website to better understand:
Aggregating this data from hundreds or even thousands of visitors allows you to make informed decisions based on the information provided to you by the specific analytics tool you’re using to collect this information.
In short, web analytics allow you to collect information about your users and then to analyse that data.
Remember the example we provided at the start of this article, about driving down the highway with no headlights? Well, that’s really why analytics is so important for your online business.
But let’s talk about specifics:
If you don’t know who your visitors are and what their interests are, you simply won’t be able to offer them what they’re looking for.
Worse, your competitors will be able to do this. Because your competitors are almost certainly using some form of analytics on their website.
There are several web analytics tools out there. The most popular one — Google Analytics — is used on an estimated 52 per cent of all websites out there.
Those websites have their headlights on, and they know where they’re going.
Without web analytics metrics, you’re simply operating blindly in a data-driven environment such as the web.
Sure, you could conduct surveys of people who come into your store or call into your business to try and learn about your customers.
But those people are already your clients. Web Analytics gives you insight into people who are merely browsing your services, shopping around, and looking at you versus your competition before they buy.
Besides, the answers obtained by someone on a person-to-person survey might have nothing at all to do with that person’s actual behaviour when browsing the internet. Internet browsers tend to exhibit indicators of “low attention span” as they click on numerous websites, looking for information regarding the product they’re searching for.
This might not have anything to do with how that person behaves offline.
In short, nothing delivers the goods on understanding users’ behaviour on the web like good website analytics which has been implemented properly.
Utilising the data obtained from web analytics is crucial to implementing an effective SEO strategy.
The most popular tool, by far, is Google Analytics.
This tool has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2005 when Google acquired Urchin Software Ltd.
However, along with its increased number of features has come a much larger learning curve.
Indeed, one of the reasons people hunt for assistance in implementing web analytics services is because learning web analytics from scratch has become a little complicated. That’s why sometimes it’s simply easier to hire an affordable company to assist in this matter.
Google Analytics is not the only tool on the market, and there are other players who offer a unique and exciting take on analytics: Heat Maps.
Yes, it is actually possible to see where people click on most by utilising a specialised form of web analytics which aggregates all this click data and then shows you a heat map of the results.
Two companies that currently offer this are CrazyEgg and HotJar.
Their offering is somewhat limited compared to the analytics tools that provide a full dashboard of analytics information, but they certainly have their use.
It is not uncommon to use something like CrazyEgg or HotJar in combination with another web analytics software such as Google Analytics.
Yahoo also offers a web analytics solution, as do other companies such as:
Not all of these services are free. Some of them take a unique angle to analytics in order to attract users for their service. ClickTale (a paid service), for example, offers recordings of visits, which Google Analytics doesn’t. (HotJar also does this, incidentally.)
Whatever web analytics service you choose, it needs to be something that doesn’t take a year to learn and which you can start using immediately to improve your website’s SEO and performance.
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