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Understanding the importance of analytics

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 by Servage

Web analytics are a powerful tool for obtaining a fundamental overview of the visitors to your website. They help with strategy formulation for current and future web designing. In this post, I convey some thoughts regarding our best friends, web analytics; Google Analytics in particular.

Recently, Google released a beta version of its new and powerful analytics tools, called Universal Analytics. This version includes tons of functionality and features, allowing all kinds of industries to dig deeper with regards to their visitors’ behavior on their websites.

Referral Path

Most web analytic tools tell us everything about the journey of our users through our website. This data may include the user’s prior step before entering your website. This means you are clued into which page was the last visited before your user arrives on your site’s landing page. That previous website is called the referral page, or in broad terms, the referral path.

Knowing the referral path is extremely important for SEO purposes, as that can decide the success of off-page SEO strategies. In off-page SEO, we publish our words, content, videos, etc. on various directories, social networking sites and blogs in order to spread our data and get back links. SEO web designers also need to know about the referral paths that are naturally sending relevant and useful traffic to your websites, including various search engines. This knowledge helps web designers and web programmers in developing the landing page.

If you have enough experience with web analytics, you may already be aware of referral paths, but may not know which path is leading to final success, which translates into conversion. Nearly 70% of referrals result in unsuccessful conversions, where visitors leave your website earlier than you hope. Your one-time visitors will most likely not convert into your customer. They may require more than a single visit on your website and to other websites like yours. This comparative behavior is a common thing in a fiercely competitive market, where plenty of other options exist on the web.

Advantages of Referral Path Knowledge

Knowing referral paths that end in conversion can give us a good idea about how to formulate our content, design and programming strategies toward conversion optimization. Moreover, if we have a record of our visitors who have previously visited our website and are now converting to a successful customer, this throw lights on our good and bad characteristics of designing. When a visitor lands on the website, analytics will note their referral with a specific cookie, called: _utmz. We can’t, however, keep that record intact, because when the same visitor returns, that cookie will be rewritten with new referral path.

Custom Solutions

If you wish to keep all records of referral paths, you need the help of JavaScript which will keep track of all referral data in another cookie that is permanently stored. That cookie will be managed by your website, and not the analytics. Then you will have two sets of referral path data. Your updated record of new visits from the same guest will not be rewritten. So, you have additional insights about the journey and behavior of your loyal visitors, who are likely to convert into customers.

As a smart web developer who knows a bit about SEO analytics, you can definitely use this customer data to your favor and guide them with the most relevant content, as well as UI elements which also play an important role in conversion.

References & More Reading

Hacking Google Analytics: Ideas, Tips and Tricks
Unleashing the Power of Website Analytics

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Categories: Business


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