Building Analytics into Your Website

“Implementing a web analytics solution is a mission-critical activity for any business serious about succeeding online. Without a comprehensive ability to analyze your site’s traffic, you’ll be unable to determine the effectiveness of your website, online marketing campaigns, and overall online business objectives.” Jeff Cram of DigitalWeb discussed in a recent article how to build analytics into your website, from the get-go.

“Many companies don’t think about measurement when building a site, and they get stuck trying to retrofit it later. This can be a tough task. There are numerous technological decisions that will have an impact on your measurement strategy, your report accuracy, and your ability to analyze the data. Let’s look at a few key points that will help you to ensure accurate and effective analytics:

  • It all starts with strategic planning: Web analytics experts – and common sense – will tell you that upfront planning is the key to a successful measurement program. In short, without deciding in advance what you want to measure, you’ll have an exceedingly difficult time constructing a solution that gives you the information you need (…).
  • You can’t report on data you don’t collect: Almost all leading web analytics solutions use client-side tagging to collect data, which generally involves placing a small snippet of JavaScript code on every page of your site. (…) It is critical to audit the entire site to ensure that every page includes this tag. Otherwise, you can’t ensure that you’re tracking all your traffic.
  • Be first to the party … and bring cookies: This client-side tagging uses cookies to identify each unique visitor and tie data to user sessions. It is important to ensure that your chosen tracking solution sets a first party cookie associated with your domain, and not a third party cookie associated with someone else’s (…).
  • Think of your web pages as snowflakes—Each is unique: Web analytics track visitors by examining the different pages they visit on your site. In order to have accurate and meaningful statistics, the software must be able to identify each page uniquely. Database-driven dynamic pages can present challenges in this regard. By running many pages through a single template, you can lose insight into path analysis, content groups, and conversion objectives (…).
  • Content management systems—Analytics friend or foe?: Many sites today are driven by content management systems (CMS), which allow non-technical users to create and manage content. Integrating your analytics data collection into your CMS is one of the single biggest opportunities to streamline and automate your reporting. Site tagging and measurement should be a byproduct of your content publishing process (…).
  • Onsite searching: If your site has a search engine, it is important to be able to report on user search queries and the number of results for each search. When configuring your search application, make sure the search query and number of results is a visible parameter in the results string (…).

Read the full article with additional recommendations »