I am an absolute analytics geek – there are no two ways around it. I’ve always been interested in the rules of human behavior across all aspects of life, and web analytics are simply the digital representation of our collective interests. It’s easy to get lost in the wide swath of web traffic analysis tools created to help web masters and business owners better understand how customers interact with them.

While I love the numbers, I know it is easy to get bogged down in the overwhelming amount of data you can access about your website. Let’s dive into the most important stats you should know and what they represent.

I’m using the metrics terms used in reports built in Raven SEO Tools.

Overall Engagement

Website engagement has a few different definitions. For this cheat-sheet, we’re specifically referring to how incoming customers interact with the pages of your website. These measurements will help you discern how interesting your web pages are and how often customers want to explore your site.

  • Page Views – The overall number of times a set of consumer eyeballs has seen a fully loaded page on your website. This number goes up every time someone clicks through a link and lands on a page, navigates from page to page on your site or types the address to any of your pages into their navigation bar.
  • Pages/Visit – The average number of pages customers navigate through while visiting your website.
  • Bounce Rate – The percentage of people who come to a page on your site, but do not continue on to other pages.

What the numbers tell you and what you should do next:

If you’re experiencing a growing number of page views year over year, it means you’re more visible on the web, building more inbound links on other sites and encouraging more people to explore your site. Continue to promote new content on a wide range of social platforms and through links in emails to existing and prospective clients.

A decreasing “pages/visit” number and increasing bounce rate might indicate you aren’t giving visitors a compelling reason to learn more. Consider adding more specific calls to action or clearer reasons to continue to another page.

Inbound Traffic

This is an effective way to gauge the volume of your online presence and the rate at which new potential customers are discovering your brand.

  • Visits (new/old) – The total number of visits to any page on your website over a set period of time. Both new visitors and returning visitors can be tracked here.
  • Top performing landing page – A breakdown of the top landing pages on your website and how many new visitors they attract over a time period.

What the numbers tell you and what you should do next:

If you’ve created a page that gets no new visitors, it’s safe to assume its content was not appropriate for your readership. Occasionally it’s a timing issue. Try promoting the post in a newsletter or with a few more social shares. If it still gets no interaction, move on.

An older page which consistently brings new traffic to your site is a good indicator of the type of content your audience wants. Consider adding additional content on the same topic to increase your site’s ranking as an authority on the subject.

Referrals and Referral Traffic

Though not as valuable as they once were, referral links from reputable and relevant websites and traffic from those links are still viewed favorably by search engines. Links to your site from other experts in your field lends to your site’s authority and relevance and introduces you to a new audience.

  • Total referring links – The total number of inbound links to your website from across the entire web. It’s very difficult to catch every single link made to your site, but this readout is a valuable way to track brand growth trends.
  • Total referring root domains – The total number of root domains (a.k.a. those that end simply in .com, .biz, .edu etc.) which have a link to your site somewhere in their website. This is a measure of trustworthiness and can help build authority on specific topics.
  • Visits from top referrers – The total number of visits to your site from referrals broken out site by site.

What the numbers tell you and what you should do next: 

Every link that a search engine robot can move through is valuable, so long as they exist on reputable websites. The more links you earn across the web, the stronger your trust with the search engines will be.

Treat your top referrers kindly- never hesitate to link back to them if their subject matter expertise would add value to your content.

Take time to review your analytics monthly. Use the data to adjust your strategy and keep doing what works. Want to learn more about this topic? Join us on May 7th for a working session on What You Measure Matters.