What is Web Analytics?
As defined by webopedia.com, web analytics is a generic term that studies the impact of a website on its users. The usability.gov website defines web analytics as the collection, reporting, and analysis of website data. With these short descriptions, web analytics plays a critical role in influencing the search engine optimization strategy for a website. It facilitates gathering, measuring, and reporting essential website data that can be utilized to optimize a website or webpage. Business entities or website publishers can improve their web traffic and search engine ranking by systematically analyzing and improving website statistics.
Steps for Implementing Web Analytics
There are different basic steps or processes involved in web analytics implementation. These are the following:
- Define business goals and SEO strategy: This step answers questions such as – why are you building a website, why does it exist, what are your goals, and so forth. Once the goals are defined, effective SEO strategies can be designed to achieve these goals.
- Define website key performance indicators (KPIs) or website metrics: In order to recognize if goals are being met, KPIs or web metrics must be defined. Each web stat should be in line-of-sight with the goals. Some examples of web stats to monitor are the following: number of site visitors, referrals, bounce rate, exit pages, and conversion rate.
- Collect website data: This step collects relevant website statistics. It is essential to collect accurate and complete data based on web KPIs or web metrics
- Process and analyze data: This stage utilizes the website stats. It involves examining, cleaning, transforming, and creating models to discern useful information to help achieve the business goals and SEO strategy.
- Test and implement adjustments: This process implements necessary modifications to the website to test its effectiveness relative to the goals defined. Consider alternatives to understand and improve website traffic.
- Continuous monitoring and improvements: This is an iterative process until goals are met. Constantly monitor and improve website statistics to achieve goals and to keep up with competition.
Understand that these steps influence each other. Thus, an effective strategy should be developed in executing all stages.
Web Analytics Tools Available
High-quality free or commercial tools for website analytics are readily available online. These tools report web data that can be utilized to optimize a website and develop an effective SEO strategy. Some of these solutions are discussed below.
Free Web Analytics Tools
Free web analytics tools are ideal for start-up sites, non-profits groups, blogs, and others. These have limited features, but capable of providing basic information to monitor web stats and generate website traffic.
- Google Analytics – This program is powerful, robust, and comprehensive. It is considered the most popular free web analytics. Google Analytics track important website statistics such as page views, visitor information, demographics, and conversion rates. These webstats provide beneficial information for targeted web traffic and revenue improvements.
- Piwik – This is an open source web analytics tool. You own the data collected by Piwik. Using other tools, the data collected is own by the software company and it is shared with you as a customer. Piwik features customized plug-ins for your data mining and analysis requirements.
- AWStats – This is a popular free web analytics tool capable of analyzing log files from many servers. It identifies a site visitor based on user agent and IP address to determine the number of hits on your website. Data also contains the number of repeat and unique website visits, including the length of time the visitors spent on the website.
Paid Web Analytics Tools
There are several paid web analytics software available in the market, some are affordable and others are very expensive. Depending on your website and business needs, it is important to pick the appropriate solution to utilize.
- Clicky – This is a real-time web analytics, and an inexpensive web based tool similar to Google Analytics in terms of data monitored. This tool offers individual visitor tracking and filtering. Paying customers can access and use more advanced tool features.
- Mint – This is an affordable web analytics program that costs around $30. It tracks basic web metrics such as referrals, searches, and web traffic trends.
- Weblog Expert – This is another affordable business website analysis tool; a downloadable access log analyzer that costs around $75. It provides data about the site visitors such as activity statistics, accessed files, search engines, browsers, and operating systems.
- Webtrends – This is considered an enterprise-level website analysis solution. Aside from collecting basic website data, it also provides advanced web metrics such as customer preferences and geographical location. Depending on the features availed, this web analytics solution costs about $10,000 to $100,000.
Importance of Web Analytics
Lord Kelvin once stated, “To measure is to know – if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Therefore, if you own a website but are not using web analytics, it is time to think of acquiring a web analytics tool. This provides valuable website statistics that can be analyzed to design effective SEO strategies and increase web traffic. Web analytics tools also monitor online security threat to ensure and maintain high quality and reliable website. There are several interdependent stages involved in implementing website analytics. For effective implementation, you should comprehend and execute these basic steps appropriately. There are free or paid website analyzer tools available online. Choose the right solution to utilize based on your website and business needs. It should provide relevant and accurate metrics to achieve your website and business goals.