Who's Visiting My Site? (or Web Stats Explained)

Crafty Business Advice

First of all, to get web stats, you need some kind of stat counter. If you have a real website, you should be able to view stats by logging into your hosting account, no additional service needed. For blogs, I think some blogging sites keep track of stats for you (Typepad, for instance) but some do not (I don't think that blogger does at this time). Never fear, because there are plenty of sites that offer free web stats. All you have to do is sign up for an account. Once you sign up, you'll usually get a little snippet of code that you'll need to paste into your site or blog template. This piece of code needs to be included in EVERY SINGLE PAGE in order to be accurate. Most sites and blogs use a template (one file that contains all the site navigation and static elements) so if you put the code into the template then you are good to go. You might need to ask your web person about this if you don't maintain your own site. Your blog will most certainly have a template so just log into your blog site and click to edit the template, then go from there...

As far as which stat counters I recommend, I personally use Google Analytics, but there are many out there and I'm sure most are fine. I have friends that rely on Site Meter as well.

So now that you have your account and the code is embedded into your site, you are ready to start viewing stats!

The first thing to note, is that the number of hits your website of blog gets is meaningless. Each page of your website may be made up of individual files (each image is it's own file), and each time a person visits one page of your site, each of those "parts" count as a hit. That means that the number of "hits" on your website will be significantly higher than the actual number of visitors to your site.

Instead of hits, you might try looking at the pages or page views to see how many individual pages of your site were viewed. That number will be much more accurate as far as how many of your web pages were viewed. However, you would think that visitors would come to your site and click around a bit so each "visitor" might have several page views. If you are looking to see how many visitors you had in a given day or month, your best bet is to look at the number of visits you received.

One important stat to look at is the referrers. Referrers are sites that "refer" or link to your site. This helps you to know where people are coming from! Traffic sources in general will clue you in to where people are coming from and why they are visiting your site. For instance, the percentage of direct traffic shows how many people typed your web address directly into their browser. Direct traffic might come from a print ad or from word of mouth or business cards that you handed out at a craft fair...you get the idea. If you are doing any kind of online advertising or if you are featured on a blog or listed on a site, it's great to know how much of your site traffic is coming from that referral source. Having these stats will help you to decide which forms of online advertising are most effective. You can also see how many visitors are coming from Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, etc. That will tell you which social networking sites are most worth your while.

Keywords (part of traffic sources) can also be helpful in determining where your site traffic is coming from. The keywords are what people enter into a search engine (like Google) when they are looking for something on the web. So, for instance, a few of my keywords for my website include: "handmade vintage," "marble magnet craft," and "vintage cupcake picks." This tells me that people who happen upon my site are looking for marble magnets or handmade items that include vintage supplies, or vintage items, or cupcake picks. Maybe I should make more of those items! The keywords for my blog are a bit more telling. I can see that people are searching for info on making their own iron-on patches (I have a tutorial on this). They are also looking for info on Print Gocco machines, free tutorials, and pink cupcakes!

Along with keywords, you may also want to check your page views, but instead of numbers, look for URLs! In Google Analytics, this is listed under Top Content or Top Landing Pages. This will give you an idea of which pages are most popular. For my blog, the main page is visited the most. However, my free tutorials are the most popular pages after that, which tells me something. People like free tutorials! Offer free tutorials and giveaways on your blog, and people will come. Easy Peasy so far, right?

That should get you through the most important stats, but if you have questions or you think there may be other stats that you might need, you can always do a search on the web or visit the Google Analytics Help Page to look for the answers to your questions — or to find out what a specific stat means.

Good luck! And feel free to post questions here, I will try my best to answer them!


Amy Wing said...

Thanks for that - very nice of you to explain it to us nubes.

Rachel Shoemaker said...

So helpful! Thanks!

Post a Comment

Let's get this party started!