Web Analytics: And… who visits my website?

Fernando Maciá

Written by Fernando Maciá

How do you know what results your website is getting? Do you know who visits your website, how many visits it registers, what those visits are like, where they come from, which website or search engine has referred them to your website…? Do you know which sections of your website are of most and least interest to your online visitors?

Throughout my experience as a teacher in Digital Marketing, I have asked these and other similar questions to the attendees to my talks (many of them, managers with direct commercial and marketing responsibility in medium and large companies) and it is surprising that, while in the real world companies invest huge sums of money in conducting market research or acquiring results of these studies (Nielsen, etc.) to know the preferences of their customers, in the Internet world the analysis and proper interpretation of web traffic statistics data are still a real unknown.

The differences between the two main types of web traffic statistics – server log file analysis and real-time statistics via script and cookie control – were sufficiently explained in a previous article. Here, we will focus on those data from a web traffic report that are most interesting from a marketing point of view. Knowing where we need to look and how we should interpret the data, it will be much less disheartening to face the seemingly arduous task of interpreting traffic statistics. The prize? An increase in the performance of our website, more traffic, better positioning and a deeper understanding of the expectations and interests of visitors to your website. This can mean more sales, more registered users, more loyal visitors… Let’s look at what to look for first.


Web analytics and traffic statistics to measure Web performanceHits, page views, sessions… Much more than the absolute value of these values, which can vary greatly depending on the type of software we are using to measure traffic, we are interested in seeing the evolution of these data over time since, as the measurement method in this case is the same, the results are comparable with each other. Let’s click on the option to see the evolution by weeks or, better, by months. The graph will tell us if our traffic is increasing or decreasing, and a simple operation (maybe the software gives it to us automatically) of dividing the number of pages by the sessions will tell us how many pages each visitor to our website sees on average. Whether traffic increases, decreases or remains stable, it will be interesting to see when the trend changes and if this change is due to some previously planned action: online advertising campaign, link exchange, search engine optimization service…


In this section, it will be interesting to distinguish between unique visitors and repeat visitors. If one of the objectives of your website is to provide some kind of online service, a high level of repetition means a high level of visitor loyalty. In any case, it is important to be cautious when evaluating the number of unique visitors. If your system is based on IP identification of the visit, it will count as unique visitors a visitor who connects several times in a single day through a modem (because in doing so, the Network assigns a different IP number for each visit). If, on the other hand, the count of unique visitors is done by cookies, the data will be much more faithful to reality.

In this section, you will also be able to check, to some extent, the country of origin of your visitors, as well as their language, which will allow you to make decisions in terms of approaching new markets, developing versions of your website in other languages, etc.

Page views

Look at which are the most viewed pages of your website, especially if you exclude the default page which will be, in most cases, the most visited page because it is the most common entry point to your website. Identify the areas that most interest your visitors. Go to the navigation path analysis and find out, from the entry on your website, what triggers the highest number of clicks. If the report reflects a high number of visits to your home page as a single page, it means that you are either receiving unqualified traffic (not very interested in your services) or that you should rethink the design of the home page, which is not arousing enough interest among visitors to select another section and navigate deeper into your website.
Here you can also find out which page your visitors usually leave your site on, i.e. the exit page. Once identified, you will be able to reinforce its design and place in it calls of attention to other more interesting sections of your website.

Sessions and duration of visits

This value attempts to measure the amount of time a given user spent browsing your website. It should be considered with caution, as in certain sessions, users may leave a session open in a minimized window without actively browsing the web. In any case, a high number of very short visits can mean a wrong positioning of your website: you are receiving visits from people who do not find on your website what they expected.

Referrers and search engines

One of the most valuable data that can be extracted from a statistical report of web traffic is the one related to the origin of the visits, that is to say, to know from which website they came to our website. We will be able to distinguish users who clicked on a link located on another website to reach ours, and we will also be able to identify visits coming from clicking on a search result previously performed in a search engine. In the latter case, the report will also tell us with which search terms the visits to our website have come.

A large number of referrals will be internal pages of your own website, while the rest will come from other websites or search engines. You will also find some visits coming from webmail service and you will also be able to observe the visits coming directly (it may mean that they have stored some of your pages in favorites).

The websites that act as traffic referrers is a data that is worth monitoring frequently: which websites show links to your website and which search engines are sending you the highest number of visits. When checking the sites that refer traffic to your site, do not click directly on the link shown on the statistics page, otherwise this page will appear as a referrer on those sites (and, depending on the security of your server, may be queried by them).

Search terms

Keywords are those phrases or words entered by Internet users in search engines to find new websites. Search phrases are more useful than words taken in isolation and are helpful in identifying what your audience is interested in. You may be surprised to see what searches have found your website in some cases, and you may miss some of the phrases that drive traffic to your site.

It will also be interesting to check the evolution of a given search term over time. For example, if yours is a real estate website, you can detect preferences for specific areas of your city through a higher incidence of apartment searches in those areas. It will also be able to detect when an area is losing interest among Internet users in favor of others (and who says areas, says types of housing, mortgage, etc.).

Browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions…

Finally, it may be worth checking which browser versions your audience is using, which operating systems and which screen resolutions. These are somewhat more technical aspects but can influence the decision to optimize the web design for a particular screen size or optimize for a particular type of browser. At times, you will find that different IT configurations may be prevalent in different markets.


Web statistics give us a lot of data about what is happening on our server to a level that may be surprising. Once you get used to locating the above-mentioned values in your program or service, you will be able to make a proper interpretation of them and perceive their evolution over time. This will allow you to make the right marketing decisions to achieve maximum performance from your website. You will soon identify which measurements are most important to you and know what you want to measure and why.

Most of the professional web hosting servers include some kind of traffic control system by analyzing the server’s log. If yours does not have such a system, you can find equally effective web-based traffic control services on the Internet.

In any case, include the control of your web traffic statistics among your weekly tasks and dedicate some time to them. You’ll see how quickly this small effort pays off!

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Fernando Maciá
Fernando Maciá
Founder and CEO of Human Level. Expert SEO consultant with more than 20 years of experience. He has been a professor at numerous universities and business schools, and director of the Master in Professional SEO and SEM and the Advanced SEO Course at KSchool. Author of a dozen books on SEO and digital marketing.

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