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An Introduction to your website statistics

So your website has been designed, built, optimised and uploaded live to a hosting server. Your hosting company should now provide you with complimentary access to at least one website statistics package. A lot of hosting companies these days will even give you access to a range of different statistics packages.

Which package you prefer comes down to personal taste, however I prefer AWStats. I find that AWStats provides accurate statistics in a simple layout that is easy to read and very informative.

The information contained in your website statistics can tell you a lot about how well your website is performing. It can also pinpoint areas of your website that might need some improvement.
When you read your website statistics for the first time you will most likely be confronted with a bunch of technical terms, numbers and percentages with which you are not savvy.

To make it a little easier to understand, I have explained some of the most important technical terms below:

Hits

Contrary to popular opinion, your website hits are not a good measure of how many people have visited your website. This figure is actually a total number of every single file that has been accessed on your website during the selected time frame. This includes every page load, every image view and more.

Number of Visits

This is a good way to measure the performance of your overall website. This number tells you how many times your website has been visited. It does however combine multiple visits from the same computer. Ideally your number of visits should be continually rising each month.

Unique Visitors

Unique visitors are also a good way to measure the overall performance of your website. This number tells you how many different people have visited your website. If a user visits your website more than once during the selected time frame it will only be considered 1 unique visit. You would also like to see a monthly increase in this figure.

Pages/Visit

This figure shows you the average number of pages that are viewed on your website by each visitor. Obviously if you have a small website then you can’t expect this figure to be very high, however if you have a large website and this number is still quite low then chances are you may have some issues. This would suggest that your visitors simply aren’t finding what they are looking for on your website. Some further professional analysis of your statistics would then be necessary to try and pinpoint the potential issue/s.

Days of the Week

This data is quite interesting to look at. It basically breaks down your website traffic over each day of the week, sometimes also presented in a bar graph. Over time you can usually pick out trends in your user’s behaviour and see which days of the week are your busiest. This data can be helpful when choosing the best days to be advertising online.

Hours

Similar to the ‘Days of the week’ data, this can also be very interesting to look at. It basically breaks down your website traffic over each hour in the day, sometimes also presented in a bar graph. Over time you can usually pick out trends in your user’s behaviour and see which hours of the day are your busiest. This data too can be helpful when choosing the best times to advertise.

Countries

Although not entirely accurate, this data does give you a fairly good indication of which countries your website visitors are located in.

Visits Duration

Usually broken down into different time brackets, this data is very useful when determining the effectiveness of your website. You will be able to ascertain the average time that a typical visitor spends when visiting your website. Obviously the longer your users are staying on your website the better!

Pages – URL’s

This table lists how many times each of your individual web pages have been viewed, usually ranked in order of most visited to least. This will also show you which pages are the most popular, entry rates, exit rates and more. A high exit rate on any particular page is generally a sign that there is plenty of room for improvement!

Operating Systems

These statistics will show you how many of your users are on PC or Macintosh computers (Windows or Mac OS) and any others.

Internet Browsers

These statistics will show you which browsers are the most popular amongst your website visitors. Generally speaking Internet Explorer will make up the majority usually followed by Firefox and then some other less popular browsers.

Connect To Site From

There is some very handy information in this area. You will see a table that breaks down exactly where all of your website visitors came from. This includes direct addresses (people that simply typed in your website name or selected one of their bookmarks), search engines (and which ones in particular) and links from other websites (and the website addresses). From comparing this data you will be able to see how people find your website and if some areas need improvement (Eg. more traffic could be generated from search engines).

Search Keyphrases

This area lists all of the search keyphrases that people have typed into a search engine before clicking on your website in the search results. It will also show you how many times each search keyphrase resulted in a visitor clicking through to your website (not how many times your website was listed in the search results for that keyphrase). If your website is not in the top 10 search results for a search keyphrase then there is a good chance that you will not get any website traffic from that term.

Add To Favourites

This data is very good at showing you just how successful your website is. Obviously the more visitors that bookmark your website or add it to their favourites the better quality your website must be.