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Use traffic analysis to help your visitors

Spot trends, find weaknesses, give the data some meaning

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Analyzing your web site's traffic is an essential step towards understanding your visitors and their behavior and needs. Understanding your visitors can help you increase online conversion rates. In this article, you and I will learn how to use website statistics to understand your visitors and discuss a few resources that help you analyze your web server logs.

Analyzing traffic doesn't just mean counting your visitors per day or per month. A good website traffic analysis tool should help you find more about:

  • Your visitors — who they are, what they want, where they are from, etc.
  • Your own site — which pages are popular, which are unpopular, how is your website used by your visitors, etc.
  • Search engines and referrers — where are your visitors coming from, what keywords do they use to find you, which search engine or referring site sends you the most traffic, etc.

Beyond numbers and charts

Any website traffic analysis software, script, or site worth its salt can show you charts, graphs, and reports of all kinds. Only a few of them tell you what those charts and reports actually mean, and what you can do about them.

In any case, you need to know what those numbers and charts mean. You need to make use of them. The information you gather can be categorized under various heads, depending on purpose.

Let's take a look.

Know their likes and dislikes — streamline your efforts

It would be useful to know what pages on your site attract your visitors the most and what gets their attention. You can then try to make more use of the pages that are popular. If some pages aren't getting the attention they deserve, you can try to tweak them.

Here is what you should try to find out from your traffic analysis:

  • What are the most popular pages on your site? You can then try to take advantage of their popularity.
  • Which pages are not getting as many visitors as you would like? Is it because people don't need the information on that pages, or is it because they can't find a way to get there? Is the link that takes them there prominent enough?
  • What pages on your site make the visitors stay the longest? These are the pages they love to read, or spend time on. How can you make use of this information?
  • Which pages do they spend the least amount of time on? Once you find this out, you can try to do things to make them stay longer. Unless, of course, the whole point of the page is to help people jump to other pages quickly.
  • Do they stay long enough on your sales page, or do they click the back button? Did they stay long enough to be able to read it, but still didn't buy? Or did they run away after reading the first paragraph?
  • How many new visitors do you get? How many repeat visitors? How many paying customers? How many times does a customer return to your site before becoming a paying customer?

Deliver what they want

Understanding what your visitors want is crucial to the success of your website. Traffic analysis to the rescue again.

  • What search terms do the visitors use the most to find your site? What might the people searching for these terms want? Do they get it here?
  • What are the least popular search terms used to find your site? Does your site rank high for any of these terms? Why are these terms still unpopular then?
  • What path do they follow on your site? Can you guess where they want to go? Are they getting there with relative ease?

Make your website more usable by your visitors

To help your visitors get what they are looking for, you must make sure they can use your site effectively. A good website traffic analysis tool will help you do this. It will tell you:

  • What browsers your visitors are using. You can use this information to make sure your website can be viewed by all of them the way it was designed.
  • What operating systems your visitors have. If a significant portion of your visitors are Mac users, for example, and your software or e-book only runs on Windows, you might consider bringing out a Mac version too.
  • The screen resolution of your visitors. If you designed your site for a 1024x768 screen, but many of your visitors are on a 800x600 screen, they will find the page too wide. If you designed your site for a 800x600 screen, but many of your visitors are on a 1024x768 screen, they might find it too small.
  • If you use things like Flash, Java or JavaScript on your site, you must know if your visitors can make use of these technologies.

Build relationships with your visitors — speak their language

It's an established fact that people buy more from websites they can trust. It's also well known that people buy more from websites they like, websites that speak to them the way they are used to, websites that make them comfortable.

You can do that too, and improve your relationship with your visitors, especially if you use a traffic analysis tool to learn a few things about your visitors:

  • Which country are they from? Do you know when to wish them Happy New Year or other things? Or what their likes and dislikes are? The way they spell things?
  • Are most of your users business people or students? Do they work for the government or military?
  • Do they work for a company, and if so, which company?
  • Do they prefer to come to your site from their homes or while in the office?

Effective website traffic analysis

Seeing beyond numbers and charts and focusing on real information is the only effective way to analyze your traffic. In this article, we took a look at some of the information that could be useful to you, and how you can make use of it.

There are a lot of website traffic analysis tools and software out there. In one of my future articles, we will focus on some of the website traffic analysis tools that give you the information you need, the way you need it.

 

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