Actually, Google Analytics could be a second title for this article, as it's the classic and the most widespread tool for monitoring websites and a must-learn if you want to operate a website and get the information on how it performs. However, simply learning Google Analytics is not enough to get thorough insights into your website's performance. You need to extract necessary insights from the raw traffic statistics of your website and successfully link those to your strategic decisions.
Let's put the start together and read through the main aspects needed for monitoring your website traffic further in this article. But first, let's answer a key question.
Whose website traffic do you want to track? Yours or competitor's?
Do not forget to utilize the main benefit of the digital era: wide availability of the competitor's data.
The recorded details of your and your competitor's online performance are mostly available online, making it possible to perform competitor analysis at a closer glance. Things stand easier while you track the traffic for your website, where you have all the credentials to all the accounts where there is a stored data. So, let's start with tracking your business's website traffic first.
Google Analytics is the top tool for website traffic monitoring. It's free and easy to use. Therefore, it is one of the widespread solutions for website owners.
The best of all the Analytics's advantages is that it can easily link to all other Google platforms such as AdWords, Blogger, Youtube, etc. This means you can connect different platforms where your customers interact with your brand. Further, you can have a complete map of your users' actions and better insights into their behavior.
The three most important metrics that Google Analytics can provide you with include the following:
Clear statistics of your website traffic should provide you with information on users who enter your website. Therefore, it should exclude those website visitors who are not users, for example, you and your website's working team.
If you enter your website several times a day for work purposes, you can end up having an artificially-escalated frequency of visits at the end of the month. This will, in turn, spoil all your related statistics.
Therefore, perform the below steps to tell Google Analytics it should not include your visits in the total volume of website visitors:
Enter "Admin" > "Filters"
Select "New Filter"
Choose "Exclude traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to" and put the IP addresses of those users whose statistics should not be included in your reporting.
Now it's time to move to tools that allow you to analyze the traffic of websites that you do not own. Ahrefs is one of the tools that give you information on organic traffic.You can track the keywords that help your competitors rank in search engines and the traffic volumes that those keywords bring to them.
You can access that information by copying and pasting the address of the website that you want to analyze. The tool will do the rest. You will be able to see the content of competitors that brings them the most traffic. Therefore, this can also serve as a source for keyword analysis for your website.
SEMrush provides a functionality that is similar to that of Ahrefs. However, SEMrush is known to be the best for keyword research and analysis, while Ahrefs is notorious for its backlink monitoring capabilities.
In SEMrush, you can analyze the keywords and what traffic they bring to competitors, which will give you an idea of the industry's competitive environment. In addition, you can track the number of unique visitors, traffic sources, etc.
If you do not aim to receive a deep analysis of the website traffic and simply want to get a general insight on a particular source, you can rely on SEMrush's free trial. It will give you the analysis of the top 3 performing keywords and the traffic they generate.
Do I necessarily need dedicated tools to track the website traffic?
The answer is No. Surely, dedicated tools perform far better in providing you with necessary data. However, if you do not want to dig deep into technical details or use any specific tools, you can get statistics manually by simply knowing what to look for and where.
Check Media Kit
Searching for site:domain media kit will, in most cases, navigate you to the website's media kit or press kit. It's a document or a separate page on your website which contains information for those interested in your company, brand, events, etc.
There are cases when Media Kit can also contain information about the website traffic, as it is one of the primary indicators of your brand's performance.
Check Advertise Page
This page can be found by searching for site:domain advertisewith us. If the Media Kit is mostly directed to publishers and the interested public, the Advertise page is for partners interested in potential cooperation with your brand via advertising.
Normally, website owners try to highlight their website performance as clearly as possible, as that is the primary source that can attract advertising partners. Therefore, it's one more source for receiving adequate information about the website's traffic.
For both Media Kit and Advertise Page, pay close attention to the last updated date of the pages. Information that was last updated earlier than six months ago should raise certain doubts in you.
What metrics should you pay attention to?
As discussed above, simply tracking the number of users who visited your website would hardly benefit your business. Sure, you will get insight into the performance of certain pages or certain content. However, once you decide to start the journey of tracking your website's traffic, it's a good idea to dig deeper into the technical terminology.
Certain metrics are used to analyze the raw statistics of website visitors, some of which are listed below.
Bounce rate: the number of visitors who entered a certain page of your website and left it without clicking on any other sections of your site.
Pageviews: the number of pages that visitor enters in your website during your tracked time.
Organic search traffic: the number of visitors who came to your website organically by finding your website on search engines and clicking on it.
Conversions: the number of users who entered your website and completed actions corresponding to your predefined marketing goal.
Visits or sessions: a session is the one-time journey of the user on your website, starting from entering it and ending when he/she leaves the website.
The number of pages per visit: the number of pages that a single user visited during one session on your website.
There are no exact approaches to which numerical values are considered good for the above metrics. A general rule of thumb might be considered that the longer a user spends time on your website, the better. However, that largely depends on what website you promote and why. You might emphasize a certain page of your website, and therefore, consider high bounce rates as a positive result. In contrast, you might aim to have a smooth journey through different sections of your website for each visitor, where a high bounce rate might be an alarming sign. Therefore, while having the technical toolbox above, set your KPIs individually and do not hesitate to change them based on what results you chase at a certain period.
You would change your website design and strategy in parallel to changes in your business, consumer behavior, and most importantly, changes in search engines algorithms. However, the tools and metrics mentioned in this article promise to stay there long, and you can rely on them for a while to get insights into your site performance.
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