Web Analytics: The Basics of Web Analytics

Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.

The focus of web analytics is to understand the users of a site, their behavior, and activities. The study of online user behavior and activities generate valuable marketing intelligence and provides −

  • Performance measures of the website against targets.
  • Insight on user behaviors and needs, and how the site meets those needs.
  • Optimization ability to make modifications to improve the website based on the results.

Web Analytics Tools

An average web analytics tool offers hundreds of metrics. All of them are interesting but only a few would be useful for measuring the website’s performance. Focus on what is important to get meaningful insights on your website, and start your web analytics initiative by defining realistic and measurable objectives for your site.

Web Analytics

In order to identify the users, web analytics tools need to report on user sessions (also referred to as visits). There are different techniques to identify users such as IP addresses, user agent and IP address combination, cookies, and authenticated user.
Nowadays, the most common user identification technique is via cookies which are small packets of data that are usually deposited on the user’s computer hard disk when the person visits a website.

How to review Web Metrics

When reviewing metrics, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you are encompassing the set of data that best evaluates your efficiency: −

Think People and Process

No doubt, technology is important, but you need to go beyond it. Take time and care to thoroughly understand your stakeholders’ measurement needs.


There’s more to data than just total number of page views. Many organizations unfortunately still report on total page views and miss out on all the non-page view interactions such as video, downloads and rich media.

Analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, MixPanel, Flurry and others, are very powerful and allow us the ability to go beyond simplistic hit collection, and really dive into rich data and patterns.

You can easily report and derive insights with visitor segmentation, have quick visibility into buyer or non-buyer behavior, group content by asset type, measure gated or ungated content consumption, and with relatively ease run a cohort analysis. These are just a few views that could be utilized while segmenting your data.

Think Visitors, Not Visits

Explore data such as where visitors came from, what course they took between pages while on your website, and where they spent the most (or least) time during their visit. Later, after two or three visits they got converted to customers. With this information, you’re able to gain increased awareness of visitors and how they interact with your content throughout the buying cycle.

Optimize What Matters Most

Optimize conversions on all things digital. Take it one notch higher and optimize on the Lifetime Value of a customer. Put into place a system that gives you the ability to measure behavior and interaction across multi-devices and multiple channels for (most) users that come from mobile, web, etc.

Maximize Returns

You’ll maximize the return on gathering, reporting and analyzing data, when you do so consistently. Commit to the process and develop a list of priorities and a measurement “roadmap.” Audit what you have periodically. Websites and mobile apps are constantly evolving, so ensure your analytics implementation is in-line with such changes.

What to Measure


Pageviews − Pageviews is the number of views of a page. Multiple pageviews are possible in a single session. If pageviews is improved, it will directly influence AdSense revenue and average time on website.

Bounce rate − Bounce rate reflects the percentage of visitors returning back only after visiting one page of your website. It helps you to know how many visitors do so. If the bounce rate of a website increases, its webmaster should be worried.

Pages per session − Pages/session is the number of pages surfed in a single session. For example, a user landed on your website and surfed 3 pages, then the website pages/session is 3.

Demographic info − Demographic data shows Age and Gender. With the help of Demographic Info, you can find the percentage of Male/Female visitors coming to your website. Analyzing the ratio of this data, you can make a strategy according to genders. Age group data help you find what percentage of age group visiting your website. So, you can make a strategy for highest percentage of age group visitors.

Devices − This data shows the devices info. In devices info, you can easily find how many percentage of visitors come from mobile, how many come from desktop, how many come from tablets, etc. If mobile traffic is high, then you need to make your website responsive.


Traffic sources − In the acquisition, you have to check all your sources of the traffic. Major sources of the traffic are

Organic traffic is the traffic coming through all search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing….)

Social traffic is the traffic coming through all social media platforms (like − FacebookTwitter, Google+, …)

Referral traffic is the traffic coming through where your website is linked.

Direct traffic is the traffic coming directly to your website. For example, typing the url of your website, clicking on the link of your website given in emails, etc.

Source/Medium − This metrics gives you an idea of the sources from where you are getting traffic (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Direct, Facebook…).

Site Content

Landing pages − Landing pages are the pages where the visitors land first (normally, home pages of the websites are the landing pages). With the help of this metrics, you can find the top pages of the website. Using this metrics, you can analyze how many pages are getting 50% or more traffic of the website. So, you can easily find which type of content is working for you. Further, based on this analysis, you can plan the next content strategy.

Site speed − Site speed is the metrics used for checking page timing (average page load time). Using this metrics, you can find which page is taking more time to load, how many pages have high load time, etc.

Data sources are simply the files created on DBM or feed. The objective of keeping a data source is to encapsulate all information in one stack and hide it from the users, e.g., payroll, inventory, etc.

Server Logs

Log files list actions that take place. They maintain files for every request invoked, for example, the source of visitor, their next action, etc.

Server logs is a simple text file that records activity on the server. It is created automatically and maintained by server’s data. With the help of a server log file, you can find the activity detail of the website/pages. In activity sheet, you can find the data with IP address, Time/Date, and pages. It gives you insight on the type of browser, country, and origin. These files are only for the webmasters, not for the website users. The statistics provided by server log is used to examine traffic patterns segmented by day, week, or a referrer.

Visitors’ Data

Visitors’ data shows the total traffic of the website. It can be calculated by any web analytics tool. With the help of visitors’ data, you can analyze your website improvement and can update your servers accordingly. It may comprise of −

A top-level view of metricsAge and Gender of visitorsUser behavior, their location and interestsTechnology they are using, e.g., browsers and operating systemsBreakdown of your website on devices other than desktopsUser Flow

Search Engine Statistics

Search engine statistics show the data that is acquired by organic traffic (as shown in the image given below). If the search engine traffic of a website has improved, then it means the website search ranking for the main keywords has improved. This data also helps you to:-

  • The revenue generating keywords and the keywords  typed in search engine by visitors.
  • How different Search Engines affect your data.
  • Where you are lagging and where you need to focus.

Final Words

Whichever the web analytics tool you choose to use, make good use of it. Understand your website. Make good decisions from the stats. That’d be all.

You can also read how to add a site to Google search console.