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This is a guide to web analytics, which is a reference to the analysis and reporting of web data for the purpose of determining optimization or advertising needs.

Simply speaking, web analytics is a means of collecting and reviewing what is happening with your website, and may include such information as to where your visitors are coming from, what brought them to your site, and which pages of your site they visit.

Through web analytics, you may also be able to make comparisons between your site and those of your competitors, including such matters as who is linking to your site versus those of the competing sites.

Five key analytics that are commonly tracked include overall traffic, bounce rate, traffic sources, desktop versus mobile visits, and new and returning visitors.

Overall traffic refers to the number of visits that your site receives in a given time period, such as a day or month. This can be used to track the efficiency of a search engine optimization or advertising campaign. When all is well, your traffic should get larger over time. If it diminishes, this may indicate a problem that needs to be corrected.

When someone visits your site, but leaves without visiting a second page, that is referred to as a bounce, and it may indicate a problem with your landing page. In determining the reason for a high bounce rate, consider long loading times. People are impatient, so if it takes a long time for your site to be visible to them, they are apt to look elsewhere. Another possibility is a confusing navigation scheme. Most web visitors are unwilling to spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to find what they are looking for, so if it's not immediately clear to them, they may leave. Unattractive or unprofessional web design might lose visitors, as well. However, an aggressive marketing campaign can lead to a high bounce rate if it isn't targeted to your site content. High traffic is a powerful ego booster, but if your website isn't offering what the new visitors are looking for, they will bounce.

Web analytics can also tell you what brought your visitors to your site. New visitors probably won't come to your site by typing in the URL. In most cases, they will find your site by clicking on a link from a search engine, from a web directory, or from a link on another site, through social media, or through an email campaign. Most new visitors come to your site through a search engine, which is why most marketing campaigns concentrate on search engine optimization. However, site owners should try to build up all of these sources of traffic. Web analytics tools can tell you where your visitors are coming from, even to the point of telling you what they typed into the search field in order to find your site. This will help you build up your keyword strategy, and it may also be of assistance in link building efforts.

In recent years, a lot of web traffic is coming from people on mobile telephones or tablets, such as iPhones, iPads, or Kindles. Mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic a few years ago. Using web analytics tools, you can track the percentage of your users who are coming from desktop computers or from mobile browsers.

It's nice to have new visitors to your site but, ideally, you want people to keep coming back. People who return to your site are known as return visitors, and they are your core audience. If your recurring traffic is below 20%, this might mean that your site isn't as engaging as it should be. This information, as well, can be tracked by web analytics tools.

Most web hosts will provide you with raw data, and perhaps some simple analytics tools. This may be enough for you. However, other web analytics tools or services can not only collect the data that you need but process this data into usable information, generally turning counts into ratios. They may also develop key performance indicators from this information, which focuses on converting the ratios and counts into business strategies. Web analysis companies may also be able to assist you in formulating an online strategy from this information, helping to form online goals, objectives, and standards, generally designed to use business websites to earn a profit, reduce costs, or increase market share. Depending on the nature of the website, the goal may be to increase memberships or registrations.

The focus of this category is on web analytics. Appropriate topics for this category are sites offering web analytics tools, as well as companies offering analytics services as their primary business. Most SEO companies analytics as a starting point for their search engine optimization services, but the websites for these companies should be listed in the category that represents the company's primary service.



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