What is Web Analytics?

Web Analytics“What is web analytics?” is an important question for anyone interested in a career in web development, computer science, marketing, social media, or a related field. Web analytics refers to the data around how visitors access a website and its content. Using this information, companies can develop a strategy to best engage customers, partners, and clients using its website, social media accounts, and other online tools. Read on to learn more about web analytics and best practices in this field.

How Web Analytics Are Collected

There are various methods for collecting data about website traffic. In an older method, the log files of the server that hosts the website are analyzed for visitor information. In a more modern method, specific JavaScript commands are built into a website’s pages to capture the behavior of those who visit the site: where they click, how long they stay, and other information. Most who use web analytics combine this data with related information, such as social media interactions and email campaign open rates to get a full picture of the organization’s marketing strategy.

Beyond the Numbers

Though collecting data on website visitors is a critical first step, the most important part of web analytics is making sense of those numbers. Successful professionals in this realm take the data and use it to analyze trends, which can give a company a sense of how best to implement an online marketing strategy. One industry benchmark is that for every $100 in your web analytics budget, $10 should be spent on data and $90 on analyzing this data.

Basic Tools

For those who are just beginning to gather data, try a free web tool like Google Analytics or Yahoo Analytics. For social media, Facebook Insights and Twitter Insights are also free. Those users who want to dig deeper into their statistics may want to consider a more robust subscription service. Inc Magazine has compiled a list of tools that are best for various purposes.

Methods to Get Started

If you’re new to web analytics, there are some basic methods you can use to get a picture of your website’s viewership. Take a look at where your website traffic is coming from; it should be a mix of direct referrals, search, referring sites, and campaigns. You should also be looking at repeated visits by the same person, length of visits, and how recently each visitor came to your site. These basics can help get a picture of where your website does well in attracting visitors, and where it’s lacking.

Related Resource: Web Marketing

With social media and web being so ubiquitous, they are now a huge driver of business and revenue. Whether you’re a small business owner or someone interested in breaking into web and social media marketing, an understanding of what web analytics is, is one of the most important places to begin your education of this complex field.