Defining and using website analytics

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By Top 10 Staff

Website cartoon graphicThe accessibility of the Internet makes it pretty convenient for businesses to operate online versus investing in a physical storefront. But even if you’ve built a website for free and have almost zero overhead, you still have to diligently assess the cost of operating—it’s just a whole different story when analyzing your website versus a brick-and-mortar business. Web analytics are powerful tools to help you do just that. You don’t have to spend a fortune, either. There are quite a number of free Web analytics options out there for you, and we can explain a bit about them:

Types of Web Analytics

Free website analytics are easy to find and come in a variety of flavors. Some are installed directly on your server and others are open-source programs. The most popular type, however, are free online analytics that are Cloud-based, requiring no download to your server. The free Google Analytics tool is arguably the most popular and yes, it really is free.

Web analytics screen

Basic Functions of Web Analytics

Free Web analytics tools ultimately help you improve your business by giving you a better understanding of your customer. The sheer size of data accessible by sites such as Google allow it to provide highly quantifiable behavioral patterns. You can easily track almost ridiculous amounts of information about visitors to your site. Who were they? Where do they live and how old are they? Was it their first visit or had they visited before? How did they get there? Did they click through from another site? If so, from where? How many total times was your page visited? The answers you can get to these questions are endless.

Most importantly, don’t forget to look at what the visitors did while they were on your site. Did they search anything on your page? How long did they stay? Did they click through on any links? If so, which ones?

Additionally, you can monitor the functionality of your website, too. You can assess the ease of navigation for visitors, as well as page performance. These free Web analytics will help you determine what areas of your site are most popular and which pages are low-traffic. From there, you can build on what’s working and renovate what’s not.

Using the Data

With the data derived from your free online analytics, you can calculate a ton of different types of customer behaviors. You can analyze past transactions by comparing multiple characteristics. If you knew how many first-time visits from a specific demographic were converted into sales, you might want to devote more energy in that particular direction.

Access to past visitor behavior can be used to predict future behavior. Having the ability to track revenue per click can help to set expectations for potential marketing campaigns. If visitors tend to flock toward one particular part of your site and avoid others, you may want to investigate the profitability of the less-visited areas.

All of the data pulled via Web analytics can be used to expose disconnects between actual and expected visitor behavior. You can use the tool to help to bridge that gap. You can also find out what you are doing right and who is attracted to your site. That information can help you bring in more of those types of people.


The value of having access to visitor data is clearly evident to even the most novice entrepreneur. Knowing which type of free Web analytics tool to use is up to you. If you are fairly tech savvy, you might want to consider a server-side solution such as AW Stats which gives you access without having to use the Internet. Open-source software like Piwik lets you own the information without having to purchase the program. Most popular, though, Web-based options such as Google Analytics provide ease of use and massive amounts of information.

Learn more website tips and tricks with articles on how to build a website for free.

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