One of the lynchpins of a successful website is knowledge of who your visitors are and how they find you. The latter is especially important when your website is just getting off the ground and you are trying to stand out from the crowd. Web analytics software lets you see who is visiting your website and provides some useful details about them such as their geographic location, what pages they browse on your site and how they found you.
Choose a Web analytics package. The most widely used tool for this purpose is Google Analytics. Visitor segmentation is the most important detail that an analytics package should support – the ability to identify visitors to the site. Also important is the tool's "attraction to content," or how well it can distinguish popular content from rarely visited pages. Finally, for business sites, "process measurement" is important because it will reveal how many users complete a multi-step task, such as ordering from your checkout.
Sign up for an account on the analytics website or purchase the software. To get started with Google Analytics, which is a free service, all you need is a Google account.
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Configure your Web analytics package to work with your website. From the control panel or dashboard, create a new tracking profile and add it to your account. Type the domain name of your website into the form and then copy the HTML code generated by the package into the source code on each Web page that you wish to monitor.
View your site's statistics from the control panel of your analytics program. For Google Analytics, this is the "dashboard" on the Google Analytics website. You'll see a list of sites that your account is monitoring. Click "View Report" to access the data. The most prevalent data will probably be traffic stats -- the number of people who have been accessing your site. From there, you can zoom in on a particular data range or view the number of total visitors and unique visitors. You can also check the "bounce rate," which is the rate at which people leave your site without doing anything else. This, along with the average time spent on your site, is a good monitor for activity. Finally, the location stats will show you where your visitors are from, geographically speaking, and the traffic sources data will show you where visitors found the link to your website, such as through a search engine, a blog or a particular website.