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Web Analytics explained

Alex Christie

12 March 2008

How Web analytics impacts your business.

Web analytics concerns itself with what goes on inside a particular web site.

How successful are you at attracting valuable visitors? We’re looking beyond how many people clicked on your search engine listing or keyword and asking how many high-value visitors showed up?

Once an individual becomes a visitor, what do they do? Where do they go? How easily can they accomplish what they want and what you want them to? Companies need some way to measure whether their website design and development efforts are worth the trouble.

Do your visitors drill down to the product information? Do they put things in their shopping carts? Are they less costly customers because they use the online customer care tools and services?

This arena is governed by software for sale and systems for use (ASP’s) that gather, crunch and report out data from server logs, cookie data, JavaScript, ecommerce information, etc.

Web analytics offerings range in price from free to very not free. On the free side, the most well known would be Google Analytics. How good can it be if it’s free? Very.

Google Analytics provides everything you’re going to need in a tool in your role as a search professional. Google is putting everything they can think of in this tool in order to show you just how important it is for you to keep buying more keywords. Good idea! So why are there all those other tools out there doing so well if they’re up against free? Because there’s more to running a website than attracting people through the search engines.

Companies like WebTrends, Visual Sciences , and Omniture capture an enormous amount of information about what people are doing on your website and then let you dig in, while Google provides lots of pre-formatted, albeit very flexible reports. Google won’t report on downloads of files like PDF’s, jpg’s of Flash. You want to know about server error messages? You have to look to the pay-to-play vendors.

The more sophisticate the tool, the more sophisticated the analysis. What does a sophisticated web analysis look like? Here’s an example:

Let’s say you want to know how those who bought from you found your site. That’s easy. But what if you want to compare those who bought over a period of several weeks cross-tabbed against the path they took through your site and the time of day they showed up? And then you wanted to see how many people came from the same source (banner ad, keyword, press release) but dropped out of the persuasion path? Here’s where sophisticated web analysis comes into its own.

More and more organizations are realising the importance of an effective web analysis tool to maximise there ROI.

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