How trustworthy are your web statistics?


On the 2nd February 2012, Cravenplan held one of their free monthly seminars on Google Analyticsand Web Statistics. The seminar saw a record turn out of 52 delegates from local businesses who were all interested in how may visitors their Web site gets and how to interpret the data.


Most Web site owners run statistic reports, but many don’t actually analyse the results or refer to them. This is not surprising due to the confusing and unreliable nature of the reported statistics and confusion over what they really convey about a Web site. With this in mind some of the terminology was clarified to enable people to understand their reports and maximise their Web site. People often get excited as they have a high number of “hits” on their Web site, unfortunately this is not the same as visitors, it is simply how many files are downloaded from the server which could be by one visitor requesting these files, showing 101 hits when there has only been1 actual page view.


Another challenge faced by Web site owners is the caching of pages, which is where Internet service providers save Web site pages for later viewings in an attempt to save bandwidth. Therefore reducing actual visits to your website as well as retaining out of date information, which in turn is detrimental to your statistics and understanding of who is visiting your web site.


So what do Google Analytics and WebTrends actually tell you?


They both show which files have been requested from the server and at what time. You can also find out which browser has been used to view your web site. However visitors can’t be identified unless your Web site requires a log in, therefore you cannot follow up with them. What’s more the exact number of visitors can’t be obtained due to the issue of caching mentioned earlier. Also, don’t forget your own visits to your Web site. Finally you do not know what search terms didn’t find you, which would be valuable information for search engine optimisation.


Google Analytics vs Logfile analysis (using WebTrends)


Google Analytics is free and uses Java Script but as a result does not give the most reliable interpretation of the statistics, regularly under reporting by 50% therefore not giving the whole picture. Whereas WebTrends use logs which are private and give a more reliable picture of your Web site statistics, however WebTrends figures don’t include cached pages.


You may well be asking yourself what is the point of Google Analytics and WebTrends as you can’t fully rely on them? They are incredibly useful to your business in terms of measuring the effectiveness of your Web site and monitoring the way people use search engines and thus responding to these trends to get more business through your Web site.


For more information on how Cravenplan can help you increase business through your Web site, with their bespoke web marketing support, contact us

15 February – Refocus your Business for 2012 (5:30pm) – Salisbury and South Wilts Sports Club
20 February – Digital Photography (lunch or evening) – Salisbury Playhouse
08 March – E-Bay (lunch or evening) – Salisbury Playhouse
15 March – Digital Photography (lunch or evening)
20 April – Search Engine Optimisation
18 May – What Makes a Web Site Successful? 3hr Workshop
14 June – Using Video on the Web
10 July – E-Bay (lunch or evening
03 August – E-mail Marketing
07 September – Law and the Internet
26 September – Facebook for Businesses 3hr Workshop
11 October – Psychology of the Web
01 November – 101 Ways to Promote your Web site
21 November – Conversion Rate Optimisation
06 December – Writing for the Web

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