A Beginner’s Guide to Web Analytics

Views, new guests, returning guests — they sound related however these metrics should not the identical. Should you don’t know the distinction, you can be misinterpreting your web site information and making some ill-informed choices.  

We’re going to cowl every part you want to find out about internet analytics so you may really perceive what’s what, interpret your web site analytics appropriately, and make well-informed, data-backed choices in your web site and enterprise.

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There’s tons of information you may accumulate to know how individuals work together along with your web site and determine alternatives for enchancment. You possibly can monitor total site visitors, bounce price, site visitors sources, new and returning guests, time spent on web site, and way more.

The quantity of information could be overwhelming at first. That’s why it’s necessary to determine just a few key metrics, notably as you’re getting began. For instance, you may begin by specializing in bounce price on just a few key pages in your web site. If guests are shortly bouncing out of your homepage, then that signifies they’re not discovering the data they’re searching for shortly or simply sufficient. From there, you may determine attainable subsequent steps, like redesigning your website navigation.

Let’s take a closer look at why web analytics is important below.

Importance Of Web Analytics

Web analytics is critical to the success of your business. It enables you to better understand your site visitors and use those insights to improve the experience on your site. For example, if you discover that the majority of users on your site are using a mobile device, then you can focus on making your website more mobile-friendly.

Web analytics can also shape your content and SEO strategy. Looking at your top viewed posts, you can begin to identify what types of content and topics perform best with your audience. If you notice how-to WordPress tutorials make up the majority of your top viewed posts, for example, then you might shift and narrow your focus from definition articles about anything web-related to how-to WordPress tutorials. Or maybe you look at your site’s traffic sources and notice that organic and email traffic are your top drivers and paid channels are your lowest. In that case, you might shift resources to invest more in your organic strategy than paid.

Now that we have an idea of what web analytics is and why it’s important, let’s look at some key metrics you might track to measure progress against — and eventually meet — overarching business objectives, like increasing website traffic, leads, and revenue.

Before you read on, it’s important to note that various analytics tools may have slightly different definitions of the following terms. It’s best to consult your particular tool’s documentation to understand exactly how each is calculated.


Pageviews is the total number of times a page was viewed on your site. A pageview (or view) is counted when a page on your site is loaded by a browser. So if a person were to view a page on your site and reload the page in their browser, that would count as two views. If a person viewed one page, viewed a second page on your website, and then returned to the original page, that would count as three views.

Pageviews can give you an idea how popular a page on your site is — but it’s important to look at in context of other metrics. A page with a high number of views for a post isn’t necessarily popular since a small group of visitors could be responsible for a lot of those views. A high number may also indicate that a page was confusing and required visitors to return to it multiple times.

Unique Pageviews

Unique pageviews is the total number of times a page was viewed by users in a single session. In other words, a unique pageview aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during a session (which we’ll define below). So if a person viewed the same page twice (or more times) during an individual session, unique pageviews would only count that pageview once.

Since this metric discounts instances in which a user reloads or visits the same page in the same session, unique pageviews help you get a better understanding of how many visitors are viewing pages on your site and how popular individual pages are.


A session is a group of interactions — including not only page views, but activities such as CTA clicks and events — that take place on your website within a given time frame.

The timeframe of a session varies by web analytics tool. For example, sessions in Google Analytics and HubSpot’s traffic analytics tools last 30 minutes by default. A session ends and a new session starts for a user when either A) there has been 30 minutes of inactivity and the user becomes active again, B) the clock strikes midnight, or C) a user arrives via one traffic source, leaves, and then comes back via a different source.

That means, if a user lands on your site, leaves, and returns within 30 minutes, Google Analytics and HubSpot will count it as one session, not two. On the other hand, if a user is inactive on your site for 30 minutes or more but then clicks on a CTA or takes another action, Google Analytics and HubSpot will count it as two sessions, not one, even if the user never left your site.

New Visitors

New visitors — also termed new users, unique visitors, or new visitor sessions, depending on the web analytics tools — is the number of unique visitors on your website.

As the name implies, a new visitor is an individual who visits your site for the first time. These individuals are identified by a unique identifier. For example, when using HubSpot, the HubSpot tracking code is put in in your web site. Then, guests in your web site are tracked by the cookie positioned of their browser by this monitoring code.

Two necessary notes to remember. A single customer can have a number of periods and pageviews in your web site. And distinctive guests is just not a completely correct metric. That’s as a result of most internet analytics instruments use cookies to trace guests, which doesn’t at all times distinguish new guests from returning ones (which we’ll outline under). For instance, if an individual visits your web site by way of their cell phone after which on their private laptop, they’re going to be counted as new guests on each events.

Returning Guests

Returning guests (or customers) is the variety of guests in your web site who’ve visited earlier than. Not all internet analytics instruments embrace this metric, however some — together with Google Analytics — do. In Google Analytics’s Viewers studies, you may have a look at behaviors to see the ratio of recent to returning customers in your web site.

Taking a look at each new and returning guests metrics are nice for getting a way of how nicely you are retaining your guests, and the way efficient you might be in attracting internet new guests on the prime of the funnel.

Once more, simply needless to say this metric received’t be fully correct if the online analytics software makes use of cookies to trace guests.

Site visitors Sources

Site visitors sources is a metric that reveals the place your web site guests are coming from. Like customer data, this metric is often collected by way of the monitoring code in your web site.

The variety of site visitors sources you may monitor will fluctuate relying on the internet analytics software. HubSpot’s site visitors analytics instruments tracks a number of classes, together with:

  • Natural Search
  • Referrals
  • Natural Social
  • Electronic mail Advertising and marketing
  • Paid Search
  • Paid Social
  • Direct site visitors

Ideally, you need to enhance all sources of site visitors. However your greatest focus must be natural search, which is site visitors that comes from non-paid search ends in engines like google like Google. That’s as a result of this supply has potential to drive large quantities of site visitors to your web site. Plus, bettering this channel usually improves different channels, like referrals and social, as nicely.

Bounce Charge

Bounce price is the share of holiday makers that depart your web site after viewing a single web page. You possibly can have a look at bounce price as a site-wide metric, or a page-level one. In case your web site’s bounce price is excessive, then it’d assist to determine pages with excessive common bounce charges.

On the web page degree, common bounce price is the share of periods that began on the web page and didn’t transfer to a different web page in your web site. A excessive common bounce price may point out there’s an issue with the web page’s loading time, or that exterior hyperlinks should not opening in a brand new tab or window, amongst different causes.

To be taught what actions you may take to cut back bounce price in WordPress or one other platform, take a look at Methods to Scale back Bounce Charge in WordPress.

Internet Analytics Greatest Practices

Many elements of internet analytics are particular to your corporation: what metrics you monitor, the way you construct out studies, what instruments you employ. However there are some greatest practices that may assist anybody accumulate, analyze, and report web site information in a extra constant and efficient approach. Let’s have a look at just a few.

1. Choose metrics that align with your corporation targets.

Specializing in just one or two metrics received’t present sufficient perception into how guests are interacting along with your web site — however monitoring each single metric may present too a lot data. To be sure you’re specializing in the suitable metrics, begin by plotting your corporation targets. Suppose: what are the highest priorities in your web site? Then, consider particular methods you’ll implement to attain these targets, like fixing damaged hyperlinks and pictures. You’re now able to determine what metrics will make it easier to monitor your progress for attaining your targets and in the end your corporation targets.

2. Use information to drive choice making.

After amassing and reporting your information, determining whether or not or not you met your targets is just step one. The following — and arguably extra necessary — step is to make use of that information to check, experiment, and make adjustments in your web site. For instance, say you recognized some high-value content material — like your Providers and Pricing web page — via consumer testing and suggestions in your internet design course of, however these pages aren’t getting a lot site visitors. In that case, you may transfer these navigation hyperlinks out of your footer to your header or implement different adjustments to make these pages simpler to search out.

3. Don’t restrict your focus to site visitors.

Understanding and reporting site visitors information — together with pageviews, prime site visitors sources, and most seen pages — is necessary. Nevertheless it’s only one piece of your web site efficiency. Excessive site visitors doesn’t essentially imply success. Should you’re getting tens of millions of pageviews however no conversions, then you definately’re most likely not assembly all your corporation targets.

4. All the time pair information with insights.

Should you report that your web site bought a million distinctive pageviews and 4 hundred thousand new guests in a month, that doesn’t imply all that a lot. Solely reporting the numbers supplies an incomplete image of your web site efficiency. It’s important that you simply pair this information with insights. Should you report that your web site bought a million distinctive pageviews, which exceeded final month’s distinctive pageviews and confirmed a p.c enhance 12 months over 12 months, then the info is way more significant.

5. Take a look at your information in context.

Whereas amassing and analyzing information, give it some thought in context. What variables or bigger forces might be impacting the numbers? For instance, seasonality, algorithm updates, and bots can all have a significant affect in your site visitors and different metrics. Say, just a few pages in your web site noticed main spikes in site visitors. These posts weren’t not too long ago up to date so that you look the place this site visitors got here from. If the site visitors principally got here from one nation the place you often don’t see a lot site visitors, like Ukraine, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, or Russia, then this was seemingly bot site visitors. Taking a look at your information in context can assist you higher perceive, analyze, present insights, and make knowledgeable choices along with your information.

6. Share and ask for suggestions from stakeholders.

You need to present data to stakeholders in a constant and comprehensible approach. You additionally need to ask for data and concepts from these stakeholders. They’ll present precious suggestions on how they use the info, what else they need to see or perceive about their customers or web site, and the way they assume they’ll enhance the consumer expertise or different points the info uncovers.

Internet Analytics Instruments

Measuring organizational success requires a couple of metric — and a couple of software. Let’s check out three internet analytics instruments you can use collectively. 

HubSpot Marketing Analytics & Dashboard Software

langing page of HubSpot Marketing Analytics and Dashboard Software

With HubSpot’s free advertising and marketing analytics and dashboard software program, you may measure the efficiency of all of your advertising and marketing property  — from web site and touchdown pages, to emails, weblog posts, social media accounts, calls-to-action, and extra — in a single place. You’re in a position to monitor the whole buyer lifecycle, measure site visitors total or on a page-by-page foundation, and add a number of studies to your dashboard so that you’re monitoring your most crucial metrics in a single easy-to-access place.

HubSpot’s free software is right for anybody searching for built-in analytics, studies, and dashboards to allow them to make smarter, data-driven choices.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics dashboard showing users, sessions, bounce rate, and other web analytic metrics

Utilized by over 28 million websites, Google Analytics is likely one of the hottest internet analytics instruments. With this software, you may monitor pageviews, distinctive pageviews, bounce price, site visitors channels, consumer retention, common session period, periods by nation, periods by machine, and extra. You may also construct out studies about your viewers, acquisition channels, web site efficiency, and conversions in Google Analytics.

Understanding the worth, flexibility, and recognition of Google Analytics, some platforms provide distinctive integrations with this software. Analytics Amplifier, for instance, is a HubSpot app that permits customers to match HubSpot buyer behaviours — together with “sizzling leads” and “deal quantity” — with real-time Google Analytics information.

The sheer quantity of metrics, studies, and integrations that may be tracked or created utilizing Google Analytics could be overwhelming. Customers with out search engine optimisation or technical experience, like content material creators, could discover it tough and like an alternate.

Crazy Egg

homepage of web analytics tool crazyegg

Utilized by over 300,000 customers, Loopy Egg is a singular internet analytics software that gives heatmaps, scrollmaps, and different visible studies to indicate you precisely how your guests are interacting along with your web site. Due to Loopy Egg’s monitoring code, you’ll have the ability to watch what guests are hovering over and clicking on in actual time by way of heatmaps.

Loopy Egg additionally additionally affords complete A/B testing so you may check varied content material variables like shade, copy, and content material placement, to see the way it impacts the consumer expertise and conversions. This makes Loopy Egg a really perfect different or complement to Google Analytics for customers thinking about conversion optimization.

For instance, Google Analytics affords a number of APIs that you should use to automate advanced reporting and configuration duties. One such API is the Google Analytics Reporting API. With this API, you may construct customized dashboards to show your Google Analytics information, automate advanced reporting duties to save lots of time (like getting information in two date ranges with a single request), and combine your GA information with different enterprise functions.

One other fashionable instance is Chartbeat’s Real-Time API. This API consists of information that’s up to date each three seconds so you may see how your guests are interacting along with your content material in actual time. You need to use this information to enhance viewers engagement, inform editorial choices, and enhance readership, which is why Chartbeat is utilized by bigwig information organizations together with The New York Instances and The Washington Submit.

To know what APIs are and the way they work normally, take a look at The Final Information to Accessing & Utilizing APIs.

Utilizing Internet Analytics to Enhance Your Web site

Whether or not you’re a small enterprise, ecommerce web site, or enterprise firm, internet analytics can assist you and your organization develop. By amassing, reporting, and analyzing information about your web site, you may enhance the consumer expertise in your web site and meet bigger enterprise targets like rising on-line gross sales.

Editor’s be aware: This publish was initially printed in July 2014 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness.

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