What is web analytics and how to start measuring data

Learn all about web analytics, the insights they can produce and how they can be implemented.

What Is Web Analytics and How to Start Measuring Data

Web analytics is the measurement and analysis of data that enables the understanding of how users interact with websites. While web analytics refers to the entire process of finding and assessing data, it is often achieved using web analytics tools. These platforms measure various metrics and help you gather insights about how users are arriving at your website , what they are doing when they reach your site and how they are interacting with your brand via behavioral analytics.

When you are looking to start a business or build up a personal brand, there are a couple of key factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll need to bolster your web presence with a website. Start by learning how to create a website with a website builder and then customize it to make it truly represent you.

The next step is to consider how you’ll monitor your progress and optimize as you grow. Web analytics helps you do just that. It enables you to track what is happening behind the scenes of your website both on desktop and through mobile analytics, so you can understand what aspects of your site are truly benefiting your business or brand.

There are many web analytics tools to choose from and many more metrics to consider. In this article, you’ll learn exactly what web analytics is, which metrics matter and how to start tracking your site so you can accomplish your goals.

Web analytics GIF on blue background

What is web analytics?

Web analytics is the process of collecting, analyzing and reporting website data to understand and optimize web usage. It’s a data-driven approach to understanding how people use your website and what you can do to improve their experience.

What are web analytics used for?

Web analytics can be used to track a wide range of metrics, including:

  • Traffic: How many people visit your website and how many page views do they generate?
  • Sources: Where do your visitors come from? Are they from search engines, social media or other websites?
  • Behavior: How do visitors interact with your website? What pages do they visit? How long do they stay on your site?
  • Conversions: How many visitors take a desired action on your website, such as making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter?

Web analytics can be used to answer a variety of questions, such as:

  • Which pages are most popular with my visitors?
  • Which marketing campaigns are driving the most traffic to my website?
  • What are the most common paths that visitors take through my website?
  • Where are visitors dropping off my website?
  • What can I do to improve my website’s conversion rate?

Web analytics is an essential tool for any business that has a website. It can help you to understand your audience, improve your website’s performance and achieve your business goals.

Here are some examples of how web analytics can be used:

  • An eCommerce company can use web analytics to track which products are most popular, which pages have the highest conversion rates and where visitors are dropping off in the checkout process. This information can then be used to improve the product selection, optimize the website design and reduce cart abandonment.
  • A blog can use web analytics to track which articles are most popular, which topics are resonating with their audience and how long visitors are spending on each page. This information can then be used to create more engaging content and improve the overall user experience.
  • A SaaS company can use web analytics to track which features are most used, where users are getting stuck and how long it takes users to complete key tasks. This information can then be used to improve the product design, documentation and onboarding process.

Why are web analytics important?

You might think that creating a great site and offering an amazing service or product is enough to keep customers coming your way. However, there are often unexpected obstacles and sometimes users will interact with your site in a way that you might not have anticipated.

This means that it is vital to be assessing the behind the scenes of your site in order to truly make data driven decisions. You’ll have to understand the user experience and journey from an outsider’s perspective in order to assess what is worthwhile for your website. This can only be achieved using web analytics.

Web analytics tools can highlight how visitors are reaching your site and where along their user journey they might be getting stuck before purchasing your offering. With this information, site owners can optimize their website experience accordingly and ultimately improve user satisfaction. Such assessment is well worth it for business owners as it can increase traffic and conversions from their site.

How does web analytics work?

While it’s nice to have in depth information about user interaction with your site, you may be wondering how it is collected and if it’s invasive. Rest assured you will not be stealing private information from your users and they have every reason to feel safe when browsing your site.

That said, there are various tracking mechanisms in place on sites that enable site owners to have a general understanding of user experience. Often web analytics tools utilize tags which essentially count every time a user visits a certain webpage or clicks on a specific button. In this way you can gather information about total visits and clicks on certain places of your site without invading the privacy of individual users.

Another option is to use cookies which enables you to understand repeat visits from a single browser. This can be useful in assessing returning customers, saving customer shopping carts and utilizing remarketing tactics. While cookies provide slightly more information about individual site visitors, they still do not enable a site owner to know anything about a user other than the user’s visits to their website.

Additionally, many site owners employ the use of the cookies banner which states explicitly that they will track visitors in order to provide a more personalized experience in the future. Users can choose whether to accept these terms or not, in which case a site cannot track that specific user.

Web analytics API’s enable developers to access website data and statistics quickly and easily. They help to monitor website traffic, understand how users interact with a website, and analyze key performance indicators like clicks, conversions, and user behavior. This makes it easier to create custom reports and insights based on web analytics data.

Web analytics in SEO

Web analytics in SEO refers to the analysis of website data to help increase visibility and search engine rankings. It involves the tracking of website visitors, clicks, and conversions to measure the performance of a website and its pages. The main goal of web analytics in SEO is to understand how users interact with a website, optimizing content and navigation for a better user experience.

web analytics - seo and page views

What web analytics metrics should you track?

An essential aspect of successful web analytics is understanding what metrics are most useful for your business. While each website is different, the foundational question remains the same for every single site. What are your site goals? Often these include gaining traffic and making sales so your business or brand can thrive. Or it can mean improving the monetization of your website. Common metrics include page views, unique visitors, average session duration, bounce rate, click-through rate (CTR), conversion.

In order to achieve these objectives, consider the following metrics:

01. Traffic

Traffic generally means the amount of visits your website is getting. Of course, the more visits your site receives, the better chance you have of people learning about your brand and the greater the likelihood that you will make money. In many ways, traffic is the simplest metric to measure and is available on almost all analytics tools.

That said, be aware that not all visitors can be considered equal. Some visitors may be you or your close friends, others may be counted twice simply by refreshing their webpage, while the remainder could be new visitors. Each of these categories will ultimately have a different value for your brand.

Other specific web analytics metrics that are important to track under the broader umbrella of traffic include, page views, number of sessions and unique page views. This is important for understanding how many of your visitors that make up the traffic to your site are new, or returning visitors. Returning visitors are a good indication of how well you are creating brand awareness around your site and company. New visitors and their growth show how well you are targeting new audiences and users.

web analytics - tracking traffic

02. Traffic sources

Another important aspect of assessing traffic is understanding where it is coming from. Just as there’s not one type of visitor, traffic sources, too, can vary in value. Someone who is searching for your brand actively on Google may act differently on your site than someone who happens to find your site through an ad. While all traffic is good, someone who has a commitment to your brand is more likely to purchase your product or service than someone who is just browsing and assessing options. Customer analytics can help inform you of your audience and how they found you.

Additionally, traffic from different geographic locations may vary in value for your brand. It’s possible that visitors from one location are more likely to spend larger amounts than those from somewhere else. If you have an international brand, it’s also likely that your offerings vary in price depending on the local competition. Take this into account when considering where your traffic is coming from.

In order to understand traffic sources, be sure you are tracking numbers from all platforms on which your site can be found. In addition to traffic from search engines, you need to understand how much traffic each advertisement is bringing you and how those visitors tend to act. Consider utilizing an analytics tool that can identify the various sources of your traffic so you can easily compare each source.

When it comes to tracking organic traffic (branded and non-branded), Google Search Console is your go to platform.

03. Conversions

Traffic is only as good as the money it brings to your business. Ultimately, for your brand to thrive, you need that traffic to take action and actually purchase your product or service. That next step is considered a conversion. While any next step can be defined as a conversion, it is often used to mean when a site visitor converts to become a user.

This metric can be considered a business metric as it can be used as the basis for future decisions regarding what it is worth spending in order to bring in more profit. By being able to predict how many site visitors will ultimately convert, you can easily justify spending money on ads and branding. That said, not all advertisements will bring in the same number of conversions. So be sure to track which ads and products are most fruitful.

Another important aspect of conversion tracking is understanding which products or services on your site sell more. For example, consider a t-shirt business. While they may sell 50 different designs, in all likelihood the same three t-shirts are bringing them the most sales, while the remaining 47 designs only get a few purchases.

Web analytics tools can help you understand which items are selling the most. You can then be sure to advertise those products to make the most of your ad spend. You can also use this insight to help you decide which products should be featured at the top of your site and even determine the design of any future product based on those successful items.

web analytics - conversions

04. Revenue

Revenue refers to the total money earned in a given time period. In addition to conversion data which you can use to track the number of sales, you can assess the money earned from these sales through your revenue. So to go back to our t-shirt example, suppose one of the three best-selling shirts costs $8, while one of the less popular designs costs $25. In this case you can sell a third of the more expensive shirts and still make more money than if you only sold the $8 design.

This revenue differential points to the importance of looking at both conversions and revenue together. While raw numbers of conversions are important for success and growth, revenue is important for business management. Businesses can understand what products are worthwhile to continue producing and what they need to do in order to stay profitable.

web analytics - revenue

05. Bounce rate

How visitors behave, or engagement on your site is an important web analytics metric to track. Within this one of the most tracked is bounce rate, which is calculated as the percentage of users who leave your site without moving onto another page within it. Let’s say a user lands on your homepage, from a Google search. If they leave your site from that same page, without exploring any more on your site – they’ve bounced and will count towards your bounce rate.

Obviously the aim is always to lower your bounce rate, so that you’re encouraging users to move around your site – meaning they get to know you, your brand, your company and your product better.

Other engagement metrics to track include, time on page, average session duration, and number of pages per session. All of these help you understand how people are behaving on your site, if your content engages them, and if it encourages them to move around your website – which should be a marketing goal.

06. Social media metrics

Social media metrics are a unique form of web analytics, as many of the metrics tracked are done so off your website. What you can track is traffic from specific social media sources – how many users get to your site from Facebook, or Instagram say. Social media engagement analytics refer to how people engage and interact with your content on a specific social media platform, rather than your website. However, they can help you understand what content resonates with your audience better, and this can influence the type of content you plan on your website to achieve the same engagement hits.

Website features with analytics widgets

Web analytics tools and getting started

Now that you have an understanding of what metrics you should be tracking, you may be wondering how to actually get started with tracking these items. There are many platform options, and we suggest perusing this list of the best web analytics tools available to choose the most ideal option for you. Many of these tools will then require some setup in order for them to calibrate with your site and be able to provide you with real data.

A highly efficient way to begin monitoring your website’s data is through Wix Analytics. This free, integrated tool offers comprehensive insights to Wix website owners, including information on website traffic, visitor behavior, conversions and more. What’s more, it includes an AI analytics report that benchmarks your site against others in your industry and region, helping you pinpoint both strengths and areas for improvement in your website’s performance.

To access your site analytics, navigate to your site dashboard and then find the “Analytics & Reports” tag on the left hand side of your screen. There, you will be given a breakdown of the types of metrics available to you, such as traffic or sales. Once within these metrics, you can customize your reports so that you can see trends based on region or traffic source. These types of customization capabilities enable you to see what truly matters to you.

Google Analytics is another popular web analytics tool. It’s a pretty comprehensive tool that allows you to track all of the metrics mentioned above both on a website and page level. It is undergoing changes—GA4 is the new interface for web analytics that will replace Universal Google Analytics as it is now known by the end of 2023. Other alternatives for website tracking include, Hubspot, Piwik Pro Analytics Suite, Clicky and Mixpanel.

It’s worth noting that often metrics are named differently, depending on the web analytics tool used. So it’s important to understand what you want to track and why; then translate that into the relevant metrics of the tool you use.

Not sure where to get started with your website tracking? We recommend looking out for web analytics courses. If you’d like to know more about how Google products track website analytics, check out their Analytics Academy.

What is website analytics FAQ

Please Share This Post Here