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 first of all to beginners.
What is web analytics?
Web analytics - 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 (such as increasing store sales) 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 this site.
It is important that each of the aforementioned layers play their part as well as possible.
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 who ranks high in Google results if the UX of his site is so low that users leave it 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
- Where (subpages) do they most often leave the site from
- How many subpages do they view on average
- which are the most popular
- whether users are willing to click on the button
- whether the site is 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 for this. I'd like to point out that there are many types of data that can be parsed - I've given just a few examples below.
Website analysis - what should be checked and with what tools?
1. The state of structured data
Structured data was called structured data quite recently. They play an auxiliary role, that is, when inserted into the page code, they "explain" to search engine robots what specific elements of the page are.
Stars to rate a blog article or a movie in a movie theater, crumbs, a clear listing of address elements (breakdown by street name, zip code, city, etc.) are examples of elements that implement or support structured data.
We as users, after all, can 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
Website 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, while orange and red are the most likely.
The heat map shows the degree of interest in the relevant elements of the website in terms of clickability.
It can be used, for example, to determine whether to leave this or that item in the main menu. Or, whether users tend to use some theoretically relevant button on the page.
The color scale should be used for more than just CTR. Hotjar also offers a feature to check to what point, more or less, users scroll to a certain 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 allows you to check if the validator considers your CSS to be correct.
However, it's worth noting that web design manipulation these days has gone so far that 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 analysis can also include checking the state of the HTML code in terms of semantics, i.e. its correctness.
Bold, started but not closed, a paragraph wrapped around a heading, an image without an ALT attribute - among other things, such 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.
These 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 CMS WordPress, 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 best".
How to 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 just that.
6. Image Status
Screaming Frog will also create a summary for you of all the images you have on your site.
The file name and, more importantly, the value of the ALT attribute is information that you simply must know about each image.
They should be as optimized 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 cannot do without studying this very popular service.
Remember that Google Analytics provides more than basic data in the form of the number of visits to the site by users on a given day. It also provides much more information.
Thanks to this service, you will find out, 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 in the index.
We are talking, for example, about the "Hello world!" entry, which is one of the standard WordPress subpages, which - without knowing why - many users do not delete.
Other unnecessary subpages include, for example, a subpage for posts by a specific author - unnecessary when there is only one author on the blog. The page listing all the posts of the entire 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 box, 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
Website analysis is not complete without turning to Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix, which are perhaps the two most popular tools that analyze website loading speed.
However, it is worth noting 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" that we need to have in our head to evaluate whether this or that tool's advice is really useful should be much more sensitive.
Yes, you should pay attention to this service due to the fact that it belongs to Google.Nevertheless, one should not blindly follow all of his recommendations, since many of them - despite the seeming correctness - are not always correct.
Is web analytics really that important?
By all means.
Website analysis is a process that can - depending on the scale - take one day or several solid months. Bah, it can also last forever, 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, each 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 noise level or exhaust gases.
In any case, analyze your site. Know what's going on under its "hood".