Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The purpose of a website is to serve as a resource for its visitors. If you maintain a site for your law firm, it is essential that you track visitor activity for new and returning users to evaluate your site’s effectiveness. Google Analytics is a great resource because it compiles detailed visitor information in a manner that is easy to understand. These details include an overview of the number of visits, absolute unique visitors, and pageviews. With so much information at your fingertips, it can be difficult to digest the statistics and understand their significance.
We often have clients ask us, what qualifies as a visit? What makes that different from a pageview? What is so ‘unique’ about an absolute unique visitor? To help you fully understand these statistics, we will focus on key visitor information terms and what they mean for your attorney website.
Understanding the Key Terms
Each time a page on your website loads, this is counted as a pageview. If a site visitor goes to your home page and then clicks on a link to anotherpage on your website and then proceeds to go back to your homepage, this would add up to be a total of 3 pageviews.
A visit, or session (which Google uses interchangeably), is the activity between a visitor’s browser and the website. Closing the window or being idle for more than 30 minutes ends a session. If a person walks away from the computer and comes back 31 minutes later, this counts as a new session.
An absolute unique visitor counts as each person who comes to your site during a selected date range. Each person counts as one absolute unique visitor, hence “absolutely unique;” this has nothing to do with the amount of times they click around or are idle and start new sessions (visits).
You will often find that the absolute visitor count does not match up with the other numbers listed in the visitor section. Not to worry; they’re not supposed to. An absolute unique visitor counts each person who comes to your site only once, a visitor who visits your website five times in a week will count as one absolute unique visitor- the same as a visitor who visits your website once for 20 seconds. Together, they will count as two absolute unique visitors.With this in mind, pageviews will always have the highest numbers, followed by the amount of visits and then visitors.
If you want to assess visitor retention, there are charts that display how many new and returning visitors your site has attracted under the ‘New vs. Returning’ tab. User retention can also be monitored in-depth under the ‘Visitor Loyalty’ tab. From these critical statistics, you can see if you’re getting many first-time visitors or if most of your visitors are returning. If you find that most of your visitors are falling within the 101-200 visit range, this shows that you have some dedicated visitors who return on a regular basis.
Ideally, your site should attract new visitors each month and have a large number of returning visitors. Think of this as visitor nirvana—you’re getting checked out by new web users and also have content or site resources that keep your visitors coming back. As you continue to build an online presence and develop your firm’s website, you should find that these statistics continue to increase. If they don’t, you could probably use the help of an online marketing consultant to evaluate your site’s optimization and content strategy.