Analyzing stats can help your business build a better website
Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business
December 1 - 7, 2009 issue #1049
High Tech Office column
Last week, we started looking
at ways to find out who visits my (or your) website in order to
increase visits to the site and its overall effectiveness. I found the
site statistics provided by my web host only moderately useful and
signed onto Google’s free Google Analytics service, adding “invisible”
code to some of my web pages so that they send information to Google
whenever someone visits them. (Read on: you may be surprised at the
information your web browser sends about you without your involvement.)
I noted that my Google Analytics data would become more useful over
time as more of my pages report the results of more visitors. But even
an early look is informative. With data updated daily, Google Analytics
reports that over the past month my tagged pages had 842 visitors who
made more than 1,000 visits viewing a total of about 1,800 pages.
Visitors spent, on average, a little over a minute on the site.
Half came to me directly, 40% from other websites, with a surprisingly
low 10% referred by search engines. Google accounted for nearly all the
search engine referrals – 108 – with only six coming from Yahoo and
just two from Microsoft’s new Bing service.
The browser most used by www.zisman.ca visitors was Firefox – nearly
40% of the traffic. Google’s new Chrome browser was used by 6% – a
surprisingly high number to me. Sixty-seven per cent used Windows and
30% Macs. There were a few iPhone users and a tiny number of BlackBerry
users. Visitors to my websites are not typical. In the world at large,
Internet Explorer is the most-used browser, while only about 10% are
A mere 1.6% used an old style dial-up connection while three-quarters
had screen resolutions greater than 1024 by 768, meaning that I can
assume fast connections and large screen sizes when designing my pages.
Half my visitors were from Canada, but in that month, I also had visitors from 72 other countries, speaking 45 languages.
There is also information on pages visited. For instance, in that month
squeezeboxcircle.org, a website I maintain for a group of Vancouver
accordion players, had 257 page views from 196 unique viewers. With
that page offering musician and event listings and resources for
accordion players, I’d like to get it to top of the pops in relevant
If you search for, say “Vancouver accordions” in Google, right now the
squeezeboxcircle.org page shows up on the third page of 2,680,000 hits.
Many hits with higher listings are out of date or only vaguely
on-topic, but it would take a persistent searcher to discover the site
that way; one company offering to help (for a fee) with search engine
optimization claims that 79% of searchers don’t look beyond the first
five hits, while 28% will check the first three pages. (Yes, that
totals more than 100%.)
The site comes up better in other, more targeted searches. Search for
“Vancouver accordion club” and it’s No. 3. For “Vancouver accordion
musicians” it’s No. 5.
Googling search engine optimization brings up lots of tips: suggestions
to include site and page-specific keywords in each page’s title, for
instance, and to break up pages so that each page has a single focus
and a file name reflective of that focus. Google Analytics will show me
whether following those tips brings more readers to those pages. By
examining information such as the average time spent on individual
pages in a website, website owners can design multiple variations of a
page and use the Google Analytics data to see what is most effective at
capturing users’ attention or producing other desired outcomes.
Companies like local Wider Funnel specialize in helping clients with
conversion optimization by using Google Analytics results, along with
other tools, to fine-tune website design to maximize results. •