Google Analytics (the web statistics package) can tell you a lot about your website, and one of those things is where your visitors arrive from. This is where knowledge of your “referring sites” proves useful.
Here’s a snapshot of my web stats, from 23rd July — 22nd August 2007.
Interpreting your web stats
It might not look like much, but I can learn some useful things from this info. First things first, a big thanks to Vitaly and Sven at Smashing Magazine, Darren at ProBlogger and Tara at Graphic Design Blog. I’ve received some great traffic from your sites this past month, and it’s very much appreciated.
Okay, on to the stats. Top of the list, for traffic referrers, is StumbleUpon. Who here isn’t familiar with StumbleUpon? It has over 3,000,000 members, it’s free, and as you can see from my stats, is incredibly powerful at attracting traffic to your website.
I think a lot of people under-value the importance of StumbleUpon, and Muhammad at Pronet Advertising recently wrote about the unappreciated StumbleUpon effect:
“According to eBizMBA, StumbleUpon ranked at number 6 for the 30 most popular social bookmarking sites for July 2007. The site was ranked above both Slashdot and Reddit but still is one of the least appreciated sources of traffic.”
The downside of StumbleUpon traffic is that the average visitor doesn’t spend very long browsing your pages. Sometimes they’re gone before you can say, “Wait, don’t lea…”.
Google Analytics shows how long, on average, visitors spend browsing your site, and the table above clearly shows that StumbleUpon traffic spends the least amount of time on my site out of the top 10 referrers. This is because ‘Stumblers’ in general, prefer mainly image based, web pages – things to look at rather than read, and you can view a photo a lot faster than you can read an article.
Maki at Dosh Dosh has written a very comprehensive guide to StumbleUpon (linked removed after Dosh Dosh went offline) and how you can leverage it to attract masses of traffic. Certainly worth a read, and he says a lot more about it than I can.
Don’t underestimate the value of your website’s images. Number 3 on my list of web traffic referrers is Google’s Image Search. People are visitng my website having found it when searching Google for specific images. When inserting an image into a blog post, be sure to label it with an ALT tag. I’ve added alt=”Google Analytics David Airey” inside the image code brackets for the table above. ALT tags help search engines read what your images are about. Search engines don’t see the picture, only the code.
Patrick at The Lonely Marketer recently wrote about image marketing, and gave these tips:
- Alternative (alt) text is what shows when the image does not show. This alt text is also crawled by the search engines. Make sure popular keywords are included here.
- Relevant keywords should be in text around the image.
- Anchor text (hyperlinked text) leading to the page and image should include relevant text about the page and image. Instead of “Pictures Here”, try something like, “See photos of SES San Jose and the Google Dance”.
- Photos should be in .jpg or .gif, but .jpg is the best.
- Utilize caption or label text in the immediate area around an image.
- Make sure file names make sense to the audience. Rather than “img002.jpg”, try “patrickschaber-sessanjose.jpg”.
- Use dashes and not underscores in filename.
Another of my top 10 referrers that deserves a mention, is Wikipedia, storming in at number 4. Since Wikipedia linked to my logo designer article, back in June, I’ve been consistently receiving high quality traffic day in, day out. Why do I call it ‘high quality traffic’? If you look again at the table, you’ll notice that visitors from Wikipedia browse, on average, 3.61 pages, spending just shy of 10 minutes on my site.
I’ve tidied up my ‘world’s best logo designers?‘ article, since first publishing it, mainly because I know it attracts a fair bit of attention via Wikipedia, and I want that page to reflect well upon the rest of my content. Had I not known that this traffic was flowing to that specific page, I might well have left it alone.
The Wikipedia traffic is in contrast to visitors coming from StumbleUpon, who come and go in an average of 2 minutes 40 seconds, browsing just over two web pages in that time. Wikipedia brings people who are interested in logos, and I know a thing or two about logo design. In fact, only people arriving from Tara’s Graphic Design Blog spends longer on my site than from Wikipedia.
Why do people from Tara’s blog spend the most time on my site?
- Both blogs are related (about graphic design)
- We’ve been discussing design together for some time now
- There’s an interaction that flows between our readers
- Tara is also in the UK, which might help somewhat
- Visitors may have read a comment I left there, prompting a more curious visit
This is a short insight into just one section of Google Analytics. I’ll follow this up soon by checking other relevant statistics and showing you how they compare.
Do you use Google Analytics?
I’ve a lot to learn about using Google Analytics, and no doubt some of you have a far greater knowledge. I’m curious, do you use Google’s free stat package, and what actions do your stats prompt?