One of the principle uses of web analytics is in analysing visitor behaviour as they move through a web site. For example, a site with a high bounce rate may indicate a lack of engagement with visitors, due to a mismatch between the content being delivered and the snippet displayed on the search engine result page.
However, for longer visits across multiple pages, web analytics can also reveal how sticky a site is. This is an important measure of visitor engagement, and is useful because research has shown that the longer a visitor stays on a site, the more likely they are to follow any calls to action.
In order to work out how sticky a site is, simple web analytics can be used: the easiest is simply to measure the number of pages viewed per visitor. This can be broken down into unique pages and also re-visits to individual pages.
A related measure often provided by web analytics services measures the total number of pages views, number of separate visits, and number of repeat visits. It is slightly less fine-grained, and cannot reveal anything about the chances of a visitor viewing multiple pages depending on their entry/exit page profile, but it is a good place to start.
Added to these measures, measuring how long each visitor stays on the site can also give insights into engagement and stickiness. Most web analytics services will include this metric alongside other ones, and when analysed correctly can be very useful in improving the performance of a web site.
However, unless the web analytics are enriched with data relating to the target keywords on a page, it will be hard to improve performance. For this reason, tight integration with site logs, third party trackers and external services can be a great way for a service to provide added value to web site owners.
In the final analysis, web analytics are only as good as the plan for web site improvement. That plan needs to be constructed with a good idea as to what constitutes success: it’s not always about the time spent on the site.
Using a professional web analytics consultant to help you is a natural first step in deciding what to measure, and how to improve a web site for future success.