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Part 4. After Your Site Is Built > Monitoring Your Site Statistics

Monitoring Your Site Statistics

Measuring the effectiveness of your web site is crucial for maintaining a successful online presence. Site statistics software, also known as traffic analysis software, can help you understand how visitors use your site.

With traffic analysis data, web site owners can learn which pages their target audience members respond to and which pages they don’t. For example, if a particular web page ranks well in the search engines but the traffic analysis shows the vast majority of visitors leave the site after viewing only that single page, the web site owner knows that he or she must rewrite or redesign the page.

The traffic analysis data categories that can assist web site owners with visitor conversions are as follows:

  • Top referring URLs

  • Top search phrases

  • Top paths through site

Top Referring URLs or Sites

With an effective search engine marketing campaign, your target audience usually finds a web site via a search engine, directory, or an industry-related site. Figure 4.6 shows the top referring URLs for a marine web site.

Figure 4.6. WebTrends report showing the top referring URLs. Other excellent traffic analysis software includes DeepMatrix LiveStats and Accrue Software’s Pilot HIt List.

Your traffic analysis software can show you the sites your target audience uses the most to find your products and services. Generally, most sites receive quality traffic from 10–20 search engines and directories.

Does your reporting show that your site gets the most quality traffic from Inktomi? Then you know that you should write effective title tags and meta-description tags because Inktomi displays the content of those tags in its search results. If you know that your target audience uses Inktomi, to guarantee your optimized pages are always in the Inktomi index, participating in Inktomi’s pay-for-inclusion program might be a wise investment.

Does your reporting show that your site gets the most quality traffic from Google? Then the meta-tag content doesn’t matter because Google rarely uses meta-tag content. However, purchasing pay-for-placement services on Google, called Premium Sponsorships or AdWords, might be a good investment to increase your site’s visibility.

Does your site get the most quality traffic from Yahoo!? Yahoo! offers Sponsor Matches (PFP ads through Overture), Sponsor Listings (through Yahoo!), and banner advertising to help increase your site’s visibility.

Traffic analysis reporting is also helpful for monitoring your site’s link popularity. When someone adds a link to your site, you can see when that link was added in your traffic analysis software and determine if a reciprocal link is worthwhile. By carefully analyzing the link popularity of the other sites that link to your site, you can find other non-competitive sites that might be useful.

Search Phrases

Traffic analysis software can give you the keywords and keyword phrases your target audience types into search engine and directory queries to find your site. Figure 4.7 shows an excerpt from a report showing Google users’ top search phrases for a sample web site.

Figure 4.7. Sample excerpt from a WebTrends report showing the top keyword phrases used to find a web site through Google.

Based on these words, you can adjust your web copywriting to make current and future web pages more search engine friendly.

For example, is your target audience interested in a particular set of products? Maybe you can write some tips or guidelines for selecting the most appropriate product. Does this set of products have unique features and benefits? Maybe you can write unique product descriptions using the keywords your visitors are typing into search queries.

The top search phrase data can also help your web copywriters write better for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages.

Top Entry Pages

An effective search engine marketing campaign, through optimization and pay-per-click programs, connects the search results to specific pages on your web site. When people click on a link to a web page, be it from search engine results, directory results, or another web site, they want to go directly to the page that gives them the information they need. Visitors do not necessarily want to go to your home page, nor do they want to perform another search on your site. The pages that your visitors land on are called entry pages or landing pages.

In an optimization campaign, the most popular landing pages are probably the most search engine–friendly pages on your site. In a pay-per-click campaign, the most popular landing pages are the ones that correspond to your most effective ads.

Figure 4.8 shows an excerpt from a report showing top entry (landing) pages for a sample web site.

Figure 4.8. Sample WebTrends report on the top entry pages.

Traffic analysis software can also show your site’s top exit pages and single access pages. If the vast majority of your top entry pages are also listed as your top exit pages in your traffic analysis reports, your target audience might not be responding favorably to your site’s entry pages, even if they are search engine friendly.

Single access pages are web pages that your visitors view once; they then leave your site. If the vast majority of your landing pages are single access pages, you know that the site’s content and design are not engaging your target audience. Therefore, you know that you need to rewrite and redesign your landing pages to encourage your visitors to stay on your web site.

Not only should you know your top entry pages, but also you should know how visitors are clicking through all the links on your site. Are your site’s visitors doing what you want them to do? Are they subscribing to your newsletter, filling out a form, downloading your demo software, calling your sales office, or making a purchase? Converting visitors to customers is equally as important as obtaining search engine visibility.

Top Paths Through the Site

When your design team has created an effective set of landing pages, you need to determine how visitors are navigating your site. The “top paths through site” reporting illustrates how visitors are navigating your site, beginning with your entry pages.

Figure 4.9 shows an excerpt from a report showing top paths for a sample web site.

Figure 4.9. Sample excerpt from a WebTrends report showing the top paths through a site.

This type of reporting illustrates the effectiveness of your site’s navigation scheme and calls to action. If visitors arrive at your site and are not converting, you know that you have to modify the site to get a higher conversion rate.

The best way to judge the effectiveness of a web page is to modify one item at a time. For example, let’s say you create a page that has excellent search engine visibility but no conversions. One item that might increase the page’s conversion rate is to add some text at the top of the page that encourages visitors to pick up the phone and call a customer service representative. If that web page is in a pay-for-inclusion program, it can be respidered very quickly. Measure the results for a period of at least two to four weeks.

Another call to action might be to use a small banner (120×60 pixels) instead of HTML text.


Whenever testing the effectiveness of a landing page, remember that the search engines consider pages with identical or nearly identical content to be spam. Therefore, test your landing pages consecutively on the crawler-based search engines. If you are testing pages on the pay-per-click search engines, remember to place the Robots Exclusion Protocol on the mirror pages so that the crawler-based search engines do not index them.

Measuring the success or failure of landing pages over time helps you develop better web pages for both your target audience and the search engines.

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