Web analytics - what is it for and how to do it?
What is web analytics used for? What can you achieve with it? Find out what elements of your site need to be improved to increase its value.
If this topic is completely unfamiliar to you, please read the following text, which we dedicate primarily to beginners.
What is web analytics?
Web analytics is the process of collecting, measuring and analyzing various information and data from websites. The purpose of this work is to get the most complete picture of the state of certain aspects of the website. In this way, business goals (for example, increasing sales in a store) can be achieved more efficiently.
What exactly is web analytics used for?
Each site is a huge ecosystem. It is made up of many layers. All of them should work in close cooperation, together providing users with what they expect from a given site.
It is important that each of the above layers play their role as best as possible.
Well what to do if the online store is visually beautiful, but completely not optimized for SEO?
On the other hand, what good is a high number of views for a site owner that ranks high in Google results if the UX of his site is so low that users leave quickly?
As you can see, the right balance is needed.
Every site owner should know at least a little about the flow of traffic on their site:
- do users spend a lot of time on the site
- from which place (subpages) do they most often leave the site
- how many subpages do they view on average
- which are the most popular
- whether users are willing to click on the button
- is the site properly optimized for SEO
And so on and so on.
So let's look at what elements of the entire ecosystem are useful to check from time to time, and what tools will be useful in this. I would like to point out that there are many types of data that can be analyzed - below are just a few examples.
Website analysis - what should be checked and with what tools?
1. The state of structured data
Structured data was more recently called structured data. They play a supporting role, that is, when inserted into the page code, they "explain" to search engine robots what specific elements of the page are.
Asterisks for rating a blog article or a movie in a cinema, crumbs, clear enumeration of address elements (breakdown by street name, zip code, city, etc.) are examples of elements that implement or support structured data.
We, as users, can finally visually see "what is what". Robots that parse web pages can sometimes have problems with this, so they need to be supported. The structured data testing tool is the place to check if the above support is implemented correctly.
In other words, if structured data is embedded on your site, the specified tester will list it and show any errors.
2. Clickability of elements and scrollability of subpages
Site analysis is often carried out using a very popular tool called Hotjar.
It is known for offering users the introduction of so-called heat maps into websites.
As you can see in the image above, the areas marked in blue are sometimes clicked by users. Green and yellow are slightly more likely to be clicked on, while orange and red are the most.
A heatmap shows the degree of interest in the relevant website elements in terms of click-through rate.
It can be use, for example, to determine whether to leave this or that item in the main menu. Or whether users tend to click on some theoretically relevant button on the page.
Color scale should be used for more than just CTR. Hotjar also offers a feature to check to what point, more or less, users have scrolled down a particular subpage.
This is extremely useful as it allows you to find a single inflection point on your site.
3 . CSS Code Status
The W3C CSS Validation Service lets you check if a validator considers your CSS to be valid.
However, it's worth noting that web design manipulation has gone this way these days far, many of the instructions in CSS apply, for example, to a specific browser. In this case, they are not universal, so testers can "scatter" errors in a similar situation.
Therefore, all warnings must be analyzed individually. Most of them will probably be 100% correct, but it may be that some of them are better left untouched.
4. HTML code state
Web page parsing can also include checking the state of the HTML code in terms of semantics, i.e. its correctness.
Bold font, started but not closed, a paragraph wrapped around a heading, an image without an ALT attribute - among other things, these errors will be pointed out to you by the W3C Markup Validation Service.
The above validator only works for one given subpage address. If you want to check, for example, several hundred subpages, Bulk W3C Validator will come in handy. Bulk URL validation is also available in the context of the previously mentioned CSS - Bulk W3C CSS Validator.
5. Meta tags
Meta tags contain basic information about each web page.
They include, for example, the title and description of the page. They can be seen in Google search results, that is, in the so-called SERPs.
If you have a site based on the WordPress CMS, then you will set meta tags (and hundreds of other things), for example, using the Rank Math plugin .
Important note - the Google search engine does not always follow your recommendations.Sometimes he presents the meta tags in his own way, thinking he just "knows better".
How do I list all the main meta tags and check if they meet the guidelines (for example, in terms of optimal length)?
A tool called Screaming Frog will allow you to do this.
6. Image State
Screaming Frog will also generate a summary for you of all the images you have on your site.
The filename and, more importantly, the value of the ALT attribute is information that you you just have to know about each image.
They should be optimized as much as possible, and you can learn more about this in our text on image SEO.
7. Site traffic
You will evaluate the level of traffic to your site using Google Analytics. Website analysis is not complete without exploring this very popular service.
Remember that Google Analytics provides more than just basic data in terms of the number of visits to a website by users on a given day. It also provides much more information.
With this service, you will learn, for example, how users navigate your site - how they navigate between subpages, from which subpage they are most likely to leave the entire site, etc.
Google Analytics seems pretty simple to many beginners, but trust me, you can "dive" into it for many, many hours.
8. Subpages included in the Google index
Unfortunately, many sites allow Googlebots to simply index garbage, that is, subpages that should not be indexed.
We are talking, for example, about posts "Hello world!", which is one of the standard WordPress subpages that - without knowing why - many users do not delete.
Other unnecessary subpages include, for example, a subpage for posts by a certain author - unnecessary when The blog has only one author. The page listing all the posts of the whole blog and the author's subpage in such a situation almost certainly have the same content, which is unfortunately not beneficial.
The above instruction, typed directly into the search bar, will show you which subpages are in the Google index.
The aforementioned Screaming Frog will also tell you a lot about this - among other things, it provides a list of all available subpages that the robot encounters during its work.
9. Page Speed
Analyzing websites is not complete without turning to Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix, which are perhaps the two most popular tools that analyze the speed of loading websites.
But worth it note that GTmetrix is a much more accurate service. With it, you will learn more information and from a much better angle.
In the case of PageSpeed Insights, the "filter" we need to have in mind to assess whether a given tool tip is really helpful should be much more sensitive.
Yes, you should pay attention to this service due to the fact that it belongs to Google. Nevertheless, you should not blindly follow all of his recommendations, since many of them - despite their seeming correctness - are not always correct.
Is web analytics really that important?
Why no matter what.
Site analysis is a process that can - depending on the scale - take one day or several solid months. Bah, it can also be permanent, since certain aspects of websites should be checked periodically and monitored for as long as possible.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, every site is a kind of ecosystem. It is made up of many layers. Therefore, you can look at it from different angles. It's like with a car - someone analyzes the operation of the engine, someone comments on the design, and someone looks at the level of noise or exhaust gases.
Anyway, analyze your site. Know what's going on under its "hood".