What do your website analytics actually measure?

BY Mike Riches

Websites are vital to businesses for different reasons. They are built with different functionalities and different goals in mind. So, how do you measure and regulate the impact that your website has on your business?

Google Analytics is the most popular tool for website tracking and reporting. It is very often utilised by agencies to offer valuable insights for their clients. However, what these insights actually measure and whether they are valuable to your specific challenges are very important questions for you to consider.

Take the following analogy:

I am interested in purchasing tickets to a show. I go to a website advertising tickets for the show but can’t immediately see where I should click to start the buying process. I click through several pages searching for the tickets wasting almost 5 minutes before I give up and go to Ticketmaster.

Let’s imagine that this website only had the standard analytic tracking code implemented. At the end of the month, when the analyst is wading through the data collected, they might look at the number of pages visited and length of time spent on the site and conclude that the users are ‘highly engaged’ with content on many pages due to the ‘average session duration’ and ‘pages per session’ data. Agencies are always keen to prove how they have added value so these broad analytics provide the opportunity to put a positive spin on generic data that, in reality, tells quite a different story.

If this company were in business they probably wouldn’t stay that way for long, despite their website analytics suggesting their digital channels were performing as expected. It is clear to see that in this instance the main KPI would be ‘completed sales through the site’ and associated ecommerce revenue. In the corporate space, the KPIs can be a little more ambiguous.

Context is so important when interpreting data. General analytics, such as the number of sessions, session duration and average time on page, will give a very broad overview of trends but to truly understand the role your website plays within your business you will need to dig a little deeper.

Creating a measurement plan and identifying KPIs are the first steps. Ask yourself, why you have a website and what you want to get from it.