Feature Article (Pub: October 03) Who is using my web site and how? Web Metrics - A Beginner's Guide by Paul Rudman

What is Web Metrics?

Web Metrics is a business practice that concentrates on capturing as much data about a business' online interaction with its customers as possible.

Once we have captured data on these interactions, we can analyse them and begin to consider ways in which they might be improved to the benefit of the business.

Measuring, analysing and improving how your business interacts with its customers online should, therefore, create a virtuous circle - a feedback loop - that allows the business to continually improve the effectiveness of its online activities.

What can be measured

Most visited pages
Are these the pages you want your customers to be looking at?
Least visited pages
Does the business need to get more customers to view these pages? Are these pages worth the time and resource being expended on them?
Top referrals
Where did your visitors come from? Which search engine did they use? What search term did they use? This information is vital in fine-tuning your marketing strategies and your search optimisation campaigns.
Traffic to conversion ratio
What percentage of customers did what you wanted them to do (e.g. complete a request for further information brochure, make a purchase, or register for a subscription)?
Most downloaded files and file types
Which files are customers choosing to download? Does this figure need to be increased?
Length of visit?
Are customers only spending a short time on your site? This can be a classic symptom of a badly-designed website.

How can we capture data?

The most popular way to capture data on online interactions is Log file analysis. The raw information used in this process is a log file.

Each visitor to a site has their own log file, that captures what pages they have viewed, how long they were on the site, etc.

Log analysis software can be used on multiple log files (e.g. a month's worth of visits to a site) in order to convert raw data into graphs, tables and charts. Market leading vendors in this area are:

  • Webtrends and Urchin
  • There are also freeware tools available to provide basic analysis (from downloads.com for example).

Other options do, of course exist - please email for further advice or check through our article archive for possible related articles.

Summary

Capturing data on how customers interact with your business online empowers a business to improve the effectiveness of those interactions. A failure to capture such data means that a business is 'in the dark' about what is happening online.


Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.

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