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Deciphering Data: How to Understand, Monitor and Improve Your Website Data

Whether you're a part-time blogger or an entrepreneur with a business website, understanding your data is vital. When you understand data, you can start to analyze it and improve your online presence. You can make your advertising dollars go further, boost traffic and convert more customers. Before any of that can happen, of course, you'll need to get familiar with a few specific terms, what they mean and how they can be helpful to your business.

Understanding web data


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Traffic Sources

An important piece of data to know is the amount of traffic you get to your website or blog each day, month and year. Just as important is where that traffic is coming from. Typically, there are four major traffic sources: direct traffic, social traffic, search traffic and referrals.

Direct Traffic is the traffic that arrives at your website because users type the web address directly into the address bar. These visitors don’t go through a search engine or find you through social media. Instead, they type the name of the website in personally or click a bookmarked link.

Social traffic is traffic that routes through social media. If you have a link on your Instagram profile or you place a link on Twitter, then anyone who clicks those links and heads to your site is considered to be social traffic. Including more links and increasing social media engagement can boost your social traffic.

Search traffic is also known as organic traffic. If a user gets on their computer and types something into a search engine page like Google or Bing, they will receive a page of results. If your website appears and the user clicks on the link, then their visit to your site would be considered organic traffic that results from online searches. You can increase organic search traffic by adding in target keywords, using headers and adding meta data to your content.

Referrals are when users click on links from external websites to reach your website. If another website directs traffic to your business, for example, people who click on that link are considered to be referral traffic. It’s always good to see where referral traffic is coming from and who is recommending you to their audience.


Most websites and online businesses will advertise at some point. While there are many ways to advertise, two popular options are CPC and CPA. Cost-per-click advertising means that you pay a set amount of money every time a user clicks on your advertisement. Whether or not a person makes a purchase or spends a long time on your site, you pay the same amount.

An alternative is CPA, or cost-per-action advertising. This means you’ll only pay when a user clicks the advertisement and follows through with a specific, agreed-upon action. This could mean signing up for a membership, filling in a request form or making a purchase.

Time Spent on Page

Having a user click on a link and head to your website is a good start, but they will need to spend quality time on the site in order to learn more about you or make a purchase. That’s why checking the average time spent on page is such a key part of analyzing your website data. Keep in mind that there is no right amount of time to spend on a page because that number varies from one page to the next and one industry to the next. Some of the most effective ways to increase the amount of time a user spends on your page can include the following:

  • Enhance the readability of each page
  • Add in images
  • Allow commenting

Bounce Rates

A bounce, in website lingo, is also a single person session. The bounce rate, then, is the percentage of visitors that come to a single page on your website and then leave it altogether. A high bounce rate can be a sign that visitors are coming to a page and then leaving because they don’t find what they are looking for. On the other hand, it could mean that your website answered their question sufficiently. If your website’s success depends on a lower bounce rate, then keep users on your site for longer with plenty of internal links and recommended posts on each page.

Customer LTV

Most businesses don’t just want to make a sale; they want to convert a customer. While a quick profit or conversion is always a good thing, having a repeat customer is even better. That’s why a key piece of analytics involves identifying a customer LTV, or lifetime value. The lifetime value of a user is the profit margin derived from their sales multiplied by their years of being a client. A high customer LTV means that it is worth spending more to get a long-term customer. A low customer LTV might mean that making quick conversions is the better option. It all depends on your business plan and the profit margin for your sales or services.


A SERP is a search engine results page. It is the page that a user sees when they input a query into a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. If a person is searching for the best pizza places in NYC, then the results could be found on the search engine results page. How you rank on an SERP determines how often people will find your website organically. To boost your ranking on SERPs, you might want to narrow down your keywords to be more specific, utilizing long-tail keywords to hone in on niche areas in your market. In addition, it makes sense to boost your content production because more content means more keywords and a greater chance of being included in SERPs.

Open Rates

Email marketing can be a fantastic way to connect to your existing audience, let potential clients know about sales or product releases and even increase web traffic. However, not everyone who receives an email will open it. In fact, the majority of commercial emails sent by businesses or organizations get deleted before they are ever opened or read. While it varies by industry, your email open rates should typically be somewhere between 19 and 30 percent. If they are higher, you’re doing great! If they are lower, then you might need to improve your email content or refine your mailing list.


When a user opens your email, they still may not read it. If they read it and then click through a hyperlink to visit a new page, they are increasing your click-through rate, or CTR. A click-through rate can also apply to a blog post or any page when there is a hyperlinked call to action. The ideal click-through rate would be 100 percent, but that is very rarely achieved in email or online content. However, a persuasive call to action and quality content can encourage people to click through more often.


Collecting data is only helpful if it can be accurately understood and analyzed. Gaining the right vocabulary is the right place to start. When you get familiar with these terms, you’ll be ready to improve key analytics and boost your online website, company or social media presence.

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