Website analytics — also called website stats, or more simply, “analytics” — are statistics that show you how your website is performing.

Accessed through your website host (not recommended, see below) or through another, more advanced tracking method, website stats help you understand which of your marketing is working, and what parts of your website are performing well, or should be changed.

Website stats tell you things like:

  • how many visits your website receives
  • where they came from
  • what they searched for to find you (partially)
  • what pages they visit once they enter your website
  • how long they’re spending on each page
  • where they’re dropping off (leaving your website)
  • etc.

Web analytics are a tricky business for companies new to website marketing. Many entrepreneurs are often fooled into believing that the website “visits” reported by their web host are all living, breathing humans.

This is almost never the case.

Not only do you need the help of someone experienced at understanding what all the data above really means to the changes you make to your marketing … the first step is ensuring you’ve got a reliable stat tracking tool that provides solid data.

Your website host’s analytics are not that tool.

How “Analytics” from Your Website Host Can Throw Your Marketing Efforts Off-Track

First, if you even understand the need to track your marketing, and regularly stay on top of how your website is performing, you’re miles ahead of most of your competition.

That’s great.

If you’re using your Web host’s numbers to do it though, you’re almost certainly basing your marketing decisions on faulty data.

Obviously, this sets you up to blindly throw lots of time and effort at inefficient marketing.

Many companies starting out using the Internet for business often rely on the “visits” their Web host’s admin area (i.e., cPanel). While looking at these numbers is vastly better than not looking at anything at all… those generic stats almost always over-report website visits.

But how?

AWStats and Webalizer are two of the substandard stat packages cPanel offers natively. The screenshot below, taken from one of those, claims that just 19% of one of our U.S. client’s website’s visitors came from a major Internet service provider ending in .com (i.e., timewarner.com, comcast.com, etc.). It further claims that  the majority 76% — more than 1,500 visits — came from “other” domains.

No way this could be accurate.

web-analytics-explained-and-web-stats-over-reporting-example

Those stats were being way over-reported.

What many businesses don’t realize is that the über-basic Web host-provided “Web analytics” tools count the “hits” to many items on your Web page — or even in its code! — as “visits.” (And we use the term “visits” very loosely here.)

Why Hosting Company Analytics Are So Unreliable

Let’s say a Google search causes me, one single person, to land on the home page of your small business website.

You have five objects on/in the page:

  • three images, which I can see,
  • and two Javascript files that power behind-the-scenes functionality (like a pop-up and a contact form), which I cannot see.

Even though there’s only one of me, my single “human” visit is likely being counted by your Web host’s statistics package as SIX visits.

How?

  1. They’re counting your three images I “visited” — that were simply displayed on the page — when I landed there.
  2. Both of your two Javascripts have activated. (The pop-up popped up, and the contact form showed up.) Yes, they’re counting those, too.
  3. And finally, I, lone human, have literally seen that one” single page of your website, the home page.

As you can see, using your Web host’s website analytics to determine whether your marketing works will result in six visits being shown to you some very sloppy stat reporting.

This over-reporting, of course, will wreak extreme havoc with your website and marketing conversion rate.

Yikes.

The Reveal

If you’re using iffy Web stats to track website traffic, it will be literally impossible to truly measure the effectiveness of your website.

Please never use the Web analytics from your Web hosting control panel. We recommend something like Piwik to reliably track your Web marketing effectiveness.

That, or another reliable analytics tool, is installed as standard with every Excellent Presence website.

With the tools we install for you, extensive (and accurate) statistics will be displayed right in your WordPress Dashboard when you log in.

When you’re effectively tracking stats, your company is armed with the information it needs to grow faster and prevent wasted money on marketing that doesn’t work.

Need help deciphering your website analytics, or calculating conversion rate? Call us at (919) 964-3977 or schedule a quote call to see how we can help.

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