Volume 12, Issue 5 - September/October 2008
Measuring Website Success
When examining the success of any website,
I ask myself three basic questions:
Website development takes time. When you are finished, you want to have pride in your creation and you want others to enjoy it and learn from it. But how do you know if anyone is visiting? Understanding the when, why, and how of your website’s traffic will help you evolve your website to maximize visitors’ online experiences and increase the likelihood that they will contact you for more information.
There’s a more scientific way of understanding your website’s traffic patterns than simply asking your customers how they learned about you. Website hosts such as GoDaddy or Ipower provide a built-in statistics tool accessible through your control panel to help you analyze this information. If your website host does not offer a built-in solution, Google Analytics, a free alternative, may be the solution.
An analytics tool will allow you to view traffic reports on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. It tracks so much data that it can even report what percentage of your visitors are using Apple Mac browsers versus PC-based browsers. It will also tell you how many people visited your website during a specified time period.
As you study your website’s statistics, the following definitions will be useful: Hits: A request for a file from a web server. People commonly associate the word
“hit” with “visitor.” This association is incorrect. For basic purposes, just disregard analyzing hits to your website.
Unique Visitors: Individual visitors to your website. They are counted only once. This is the best basic way to measure the number of people who visit your website.
If you see that the majority of your traffic reaches you through direct URL entry into your web browser, then most likely visitors have seen some form of printed advertisement with your web address and want to learn more about your company by going online. It would suggest that they are not finding you through a search engine. If your goal is toattract new customers through the web, then you may want to perform some search engine optimization— the process by which you get search engines such as Google and Yahoo! to notice your website using the relevant search terms.
Perhaps you are a flat glass dealer and, after reviewing your website statistics, you learn that 50 percent of your visitors are finding your company through an online search using “automotive window tinting” as their keywords. You may then realize that there is a strong local demand for automotive window tinting, which may inspire you to begin performing such installations.
Your business may serve a variety of towns in a metropolitan area. If you notice that visitors find your website using keywords such as “residential window tinting Brooklyn” but not “residential window tinting Queens” you may realize that you are not being noticed by consumers in areas that are still a part of your geographic reach. Again, this would be an ideal time to perform some search engine optimization.
Learning about your website’s traffic patterns gives you the data necessary to tailor the message of your website to those who are visiting it. With a clear and focused message, the chances of an online visitor contacting your office for more information increases. Knowing the how’s, why’s and when’s is a big step towards ensuring your website is doing what it’s most likely designed to do—increase business.