April 12, 2010

Digging Deeper: Five Important Analytics Numbers


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

It’s fun to look at your dashboard. But what about the rest of the data? How can you use that information to make your site perform better? Analytics shouldn’t be passive. They should tell you what you’re doing right and how to do more of it — and what you’re doing wrong and how to change your methods. Here are five data sets that can help you dig deeper and create actionable goals.

Goal Conversion Rates

You have things you want your visitors to achieve when they come to your Web site. Aside from sales, your goals might include whitepaper downloads, newsletter sign-ups or video presentation views. The goal conversion rate is the percentage of sessions that resulted in a successful goal conversion.

Goal conversion rates let you see beyond hard sales numbers. They’re tangible markers of your Web site’s success. Setting these up in Google Analytics is easy. Taking the time to do so can create a new yardstick for success and give you insight into what’s working and what isn’t.

Referring Sites

The traffic sources section of your analytics gives you an overview of where your Web site traffic is coming from. Referring sites are just that, Web sites that have referred traffic your way.

Understanding where your visitors come from will help you focus your efforts on profitable sources and stop throwing time and money at those that aren’t producing. Knowing what sites are referring traffic allows you to cultivate those relationships to increase traffic and your bottom line.


The keywords report is a list of the most popular words and phrases people use to find your Web site.

The keywords report tells you how your customers think and search. Click on the small “non-paid” link and you can see what organic searches led visitors to your site. Are you using the wrong words in your paid marketing? Are you missing key phrases? Understanding the keywords report can help you achieve better results in your SEO and paid marketing campaigns.

Top Exit Pages

Exit pages are the last pages on your Web site a user visits before leaving.

Just as important as generating visitors is keeping them. Top exit pages will let you know how much traffic you’re bleeding and where. If your top exit pages are order confirmation and thank-you pages, you’re doing something right. But if they’re not, you have some work to do. This analytic won’t tell you what’s wrong, just that something is. Knowing your top exit pages can help you shore up your Web site and increase conversions.

Site Searches

Site search is an extensive report that tells you what your Web site visitors are searching for, where they started their search and where they ended up. In order to view site search statistics, you have to activate it in your account.

Where are your customers getting lost? What are they looking for but can’t find? Understanding your users’ search behavior can help you create better site navigation, streamline click-paths, and highlight sought-after information.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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