Analytics, analytics, analytics, oh my! Understanding where your website statistics come from can go a long way in tracking the effectiveness of a marketing or advertising campaign. When you examine what your visitors are responding to on your website, it helps you narrow your focus and understand where you need to improve or make changes. Let’s clarify a few things.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot! Wait… What’s a Hit?

We could elaborate on hit songs here, but that’s content for another time. Of course what we are talking about here is the number of “hits” to your website, which is a critical factor to understand when analyzing the impact of advertisements on your website (such as banner ads). It is a common misconception that a hit to your website simply means a visit. When in fact, a “visit” is tracked when one individual user arrives at your website and browses various pages, whereas “hits” are actually requests for a file made by a user-agent such as a web browser or search engine indexing program.

One hundred hits to your website does not mean that 100 people visited your site. The number of hits refers to the amount of files downloaded on your website (including photos, graphics, external JavaScript or CSS files, etc). If a page on your website has 10 photos, one single visit will trigger 11 hits – 10 for the photos, and one for the page itself.

Understanding Entry, Exit and Bounce Rates

There are several in-depth metrics that can you can analyze within your website statistics. We’ll go over a few quick breakdowns here for reference:

Bounces – # of single-page sessions by visitors on your website

Bounce Rate – % of visitors to your website who navigate away from the site after viewing only a single-page (basically, they showed up and “bounced” after seeing one page rather than clicking into other sections/pages)

Entry Rate – # of visits involving multi-page browsing, divided by the total # of visits

Exit Rate – % of visitors who left your site from a specific page (let’s say they landed on your homepage, browsed multiple other pages, and chose to exit the site once they landed on your “Blog” page)

What does this mean? High bounce and exit rates can indicate problem areas on your website. For example, if visitors are consistently choosing to leave your page once they land on your “Blog” tab, it’s likely a sign that you need to amp up your content and make it more appealing to your audience.

There’s a LOT More to Website Statistics – Get Certified!

For more information, check out this blog from Google support to learn more about how to examine your bounce rate from different perspectives and lower it if need be. To truly educate yourself on the full scope of website analytics, you can earn a Google Analytics certification online for free.