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Web Site Analytics: Read Between The Lines (And Charts, And Graphs)
Author: Marc Travis

Traffic analysis is a key ingredient in online marketing success. The numbers, charts and graphs provided by your favorite web statistics software are invaluable.

But it's not until you begin to interpret those statistics as part of a larger picture that you'll receive the full value of your web analytics software.

A software package can only return so many lines of data. And most of them do a good job at providing the most important ones. But your real insights will be found at the intersection of two, three, or even more of these statistics.

It's up to you to interpret what you see and turn it into useful information, rather than staring blankly at the numbers and recognizing a trend. When you see a trend you like or don't like, your natural tendency is to try to emphasize the conditions that caused the positive trends and eliminate the conditions that led to negative trends. But how?

By digging. Let's say your visits are down. Now, you have to ask yourself why? Perhaps, upon further investigation, you see that the downturn in traffic is primarily coming from a loss of repeat visitors. Dig a little further, and you find out that visitors on dial-up stopped returning a few weeks ago. Now, think about what could have changed over the past few weeks. Did you switch servers? Add any large images or problematic remote
javascript code such as Google Analytics?

Now your digging into the statistics has brought you outside the numbers and into the reality of your site and the way you run it. Get into the mind of your typical visitor and see what they see. Dig around for other statistics that may provide a clue as to why you're getting the results that you are. Chances are, when you stop and think, the answer will come from your own mind, not one of a hundred pretty charts or bar graphs on your web
analytics software.

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