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Tracking and Understanding Your Visitors

When contemplating the task of checking website traffic, many businesses think of the success of their business in terms of “hits.”  We’d like to change that way of thinking.  Here’s why.

Understanding Website Traffic Stats Terminology

First let’s define our terms.  Hits are often used as a catch-all term, including by web developers who want to inflate their numbers.  A “hit” in web-speak is any time a discreet request is made to your website for a file.  So, for example, when someone calls up one of your webpages, your browser may be requesting several files to display the page.  That makes several hits.  But in terms of business-speak, that just one customer looking at a page.

We prefer to use the terms “visits” and “visitors.”  They better define your traffic as you would if you owned a store.  No one “hits” your store (well, I guess it depends on the neighborhood).  They “visit” your store.  It’s that way with a website.

Tracking Visitors is not Stalking Them

When it comes to “tracking” a visitor, please realize that we are not talking about unethical violations of visitor privacy.  Tracking in this sense means measuring how many visitors you get, which pages they look at, where they come from, how long they spend on your site, and many more aspects to your audience behavior.

There are all sorts of ways to measure (or track) the number of visits and visitors day by day and month by month.  At Horizon Web Marketing we normally rely a lot on Google Analytics because it’s extraordinarily valuable, and unless you’re a huge business, it’s also free.  Google Analytics is an awesome tool.  But at the end of the day, it is only a tool.  We think businesses need more than some anonymous website traffic estimation tool.

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When Increased Website Traffic isn’t a Good Thing

We recently had a customer experience a large increase in visits to their site.  It’s tempting to declare victory in a case like this. As a search engine optimization company, we love to deliver increased traffic to our customers.  But in this case, the traffic looked artificial.  We did some digging and found that the traffic was suspicious, coming from an automated program that was likely probing their site for security vulnerabilities, and therefore this “traffic” was totally useless (if not downright harmful) to their business.

This is not an isolated instance.  And it can go the other way as well.  We’ve also had many clients where our work has reduced their total apparent traffic, but increased the number of leads or customers they get off their site.

Conclusion: If you’re looking for a website traffic estimator, be sure that it comes with the necessary experience.  And if it doesn’t, look us up for a free conversation about your website marketing challenges and needs.