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Basic Web & Ad Statistics Explained

Basic Web & Ad Statistics Explained

What The Numbers Say About A Site or Campaign's Success or Failure

by Jason Runyan, Advertising Solutions
Revised October 17, 2019
Originally Published April 2002

Traffic statistics can provide a great deal of insight regarding the potential success or failure of a website or any online campaign.

To understand traffic statistics, one first must know the definition of the terms used for web and ad analytics.

Understanding key terms, and how each interrelates, provides clarity as to how the site or campaign is performing, and how to best move forward for the greatest return-on-investment.

Unique Visits vs. Total Hits

Unique Visits express the number of unique computers/users that have visited the website or page. Each user often has a unique IP Address; often this corresponds directly to a computer used by someone to visit that page.

Total Hits express an aggregate total of website visits whether the unique visitor has been to the site once, or has returned five different times; each hit counts towards the Total Hits.

  • When a computer goes to the website, that computer's information is logged into the statistics database, and counted as one unique visit.

  • If the user on that computer goes to five different pages on the website, it still counts as one unique visit, but would be five total hits.

Hits By Day, Page Hits & Entry Pages

Some other basic, yet important terms are Hits by Page, Hits by Day (Hour) and Entry Pages. These are rather self explanatory terms and are as follows:

  • Hits by Day (Hour) is a statistic that allows one to view how many total hits a website receives during a time period, such each day of the week or per hour.

    • This data helps to analyze busy periods versus non-busy periods, and can help determine the best hours to make sure a company has plenty of staff to cover consumer contact points such as Live Chat, emails, and answering incoming phone calls.

  • Page Hits is a statistic that simply shows how many hits each individual page of a website receives.

    • This can help decipher the most popular pages of the site, thus helping to determine where conversion and/or A/B testing efforts may be most effective and appropriately utilized.

  • Entry Pages tell a website administrator what page(s) of the website people are using to visit and enter the website. (The Home Page is not always where people enter.)

    • Entry pages help signify what pages are most successful in attracting people from external sites, such as Google search results. Emulating successful aspects of high-traffic Entry Pages can help determine what steps can be taken to improve other pages and enhance their success.

Other Basic Analytic Terms

  • Sessions: Sessions are similar to Visits and notate a total number of "Sessions" within a given date range. Sessions are the period of time a user is engaged and active within a website.

    • If sessions are short, then users may not be finding apparent value and thus help analyze how to best improve content to increase session length.

  • Pageviews: Pageviews are similar to Total Hits and represent the total number of pages a user viewed within a given Session. Repeated views of a single page are counted as one pageview.

    • Data on Pageviews can help gauge whether pages are leading customers through the site to the desired outcome and potential conversion.

    • If Pageviews are low, this might mean the site is lacking in corresponding CTA's (Calls to Action) that lead the user further into the site for the desired conversion.

  • Users: Users are counted when they have at least one Session within a given time period. Users include returning and new users.

  • Pages/Session: Pages per Session is also known as "Average Page Depth" and is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted once.

    • This data factor helps gauge whether the site's content is setup and properly geared to lead users through to a desired outcome, or conversion. A low number of Pages per Session signifies that users are not moving deeper into the site's content and thus may be lacking in proper CTA's.

  • Bounce Rate: The Bounce Rate is the percentage of users that view a single-page on their visit and leave (e.g. visits to the site in which the person left from the entrance page, without interacting with the page.)

    • A high Bounce Rate means that users aren't being engaged, and hence immediately leave without going further.

    • This is an obvious indicator that changes need to be made to engage users and direct them further into the site towards a desired outcome and conversion.

    • Perhaps the site need to work on CTA's that engage the user and help them move further through the site.

Analyzing The Traffic Report

Knowing the basic traffic statistic terms, and understanding the meaning of each, is only the first step. Analyzing these statistics and what they mean will help to improve the web or ad campaign, and improve performance.

By seeing where a website, or any other marketing campaign, is lacking helps determine the best course of action to better performance and increase ROI.

Visitor Report Analysis

The Unique Visitors versus the Total Hits provides valuable information for knowing whether a website is engaging visitors, or whether it lacks engagement, and is in need of assistance.

For example, if a five page website has the same number of Unique Visitors as Total Hits, then we know that no one is going past the home page (or entrance page of the website), hence lacking visitor engagement.

In situations like this, the underperforming website page must be analyzed:

  • Perhaps the page simply does not engage the visitor.

  • Perhaps the page lacks proper CTA's to encourage the user to move forward.

  • Or perhaps the page has technical errors that keep the user from moving forward.

Regardless, pages with similar ratios of Unique Visitors and Total Hits must be reviewed to figure out the lack of performance. These pages are a good opportunity to utilize A/B Testing.

Once reviewed it can be determined if the content needs revision, there's a technical error inhibiting visitors from moving forward, or another reason.

Daily Traffic Reports

Viewing website traffic based on the day of the week, or even the hour of the day, can give great insight into the business and its busy times.

Put simply, a website owner might find that there is a particular day that website traffic is higher than others. In such cases, the owner might want to pay particular attention to incoming email on such days, and be sure to respond in a timely manner to any email requests about products or services; or perhaps running a special on an off-day can help generate more traffic and sales.

Page Hit Reports

When viewing Hits by Page, a website owner can tell what pages are viewed more often than others. Again, if a particular page doesn't get much traffic, the owner should consider one of two things:

  1. Perhaps the link to the low trafficked page is not that visible, hence making the link more visible may help improve traffic.

  2. Perhaps there is no solid CTA urging users to visit the page.

  3. Perhaps the content of that page is not of interest to visitors, and requires revamping the content for enticement.
Entry Page Reports

The entry page statistic is a great analytic for review; it tells a website administrator what pages are really popular in the search engines. The top entry page might not always be the home page.

Often when search engines are indexing a website, they find a sub-page that has a great deal of information with well utilized keywords and phrases. Therefore, that particular page could end up being the page that search engines send users searching for a product or service in related industries.

Conversion Tracking Reports

Conversion Tracking Reports measure the performance of media using set indictators. The conversion tracking helps a website or campaign manager know if the site is performing and obtaining the desired results.

Some examples of reports are:

  • Conversion rate: the ratio of orders/sales to visitors
  • Drop off rate: the ratio of visitors that started a process, but failed to complete
  • Click through rate: the ratio of total visitors exposed to an ad campaign or advertisement; of those exposed, how many clicked through
  • Registration rate: the ratio of visitors to a site that have registered, versus those whom have visited and not registered
  • Interaction rate: the ratio of visitors that viewed an ad or campaign with interaction, even if they did not purchase or complete the sale

Traffic Statistics Summary

There are numerous other website analytics and statistics to pay attention to when attempting to get the best online presence ROI.

The above noted terms and statistics are the basics, and most important statistics to start with. When truly understood, these statistics depict a website's true performance, and whether there's room for improvement and increased profits.

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