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Posts Tagged ‘google analytics’

Comparing Web Traffic resources Alexa, Compete, Quantcast and ComScore Vs. Webalizer

April 4th, 2014 No comments

From time to time, we get questions about web traffic analysis services, such as Alexa, Compete, Quantcast and Comscore. Are these accurate? And how do these services compare to a statistical resource, such as Webalizer?

Dennis Yu's analysis linked here, starts his critique with these words, Alexa is the most well-known of the traffic measurement services, but also the least accurate…” Another website boldly proclaims, Alexa sucks and here's why.”

credit=insitedesignlab-alexa-sucks-posted-cutting-edge-blog-on-mhpronews-com

For reasons that are professionally outlined in this article linked below, you will see why Alexa's allegedly flawed methodology is not useful for a specialized 'niche' industry, such as manufactured housing.

http://waystoavoidscamsonline.com/how-does-alexa-track-traffic-do-they-really-have-a-grasp-of-your-traffic

Note that the same independent report shows how Alexa can be "gamed." Note too that while we have referenced the studies linked above, you can find others online that come to similar conclusions.

Dennis Yu's analysis points out the weaknesses and relative strengths of each of the competing services, and he draws towards his conclusion by saying, But the most important tool to use in grading your site is your own analytics…”

So now we turn to website statistical resources – such as Webalizer – which reside on your site's server.

Small Business Brief wrote that compared to even Google Analytics, "…when analyzing traffic, "Webalizer stats are more accurate," an insight we've reported previously on MHProNews.com.

It should be clear that Alexa, which depends on interpolation of data from a limited number of  browsers that have their tool bar can't be as accurate as widely used Webalizer, which produces its data by residing in the server of the site being monitored.

email_icon_wikicommons-posted-mhpronews-comDon't be confused or bamboozled by someone who waves Alexa (or similar web services) results in front of you!

Depending on whether your interest is in having good statistics is for your own site, or better understanding another operation's website, information gathered from a respected resource such as Webalizer are best.

We should note that when we build websites for other companies, associations, individuals or operations, we routinely install Webalizer, for the reasons previously noted.

Because manufactured housing – especially the B2B side – is such as specialized field and faces unique marketing challenges, you are often best served by an operation that both knows our industry well and has a sound understanding of website design, SEO, analytics, the proper use of social media, email marketing and more. Don't hesitate to call us for insights and comparisons. ##

(Image Credit: InsiteDesign, Wikicommons)

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

A couple of things you need to know about website stats

August 11th, 2010 No comments

Screen shot of Urchin web stats reportWebsite stats. They have all the charm of 12th grade algebra. But they are very important in the world of online marketing. In this post, we’re going to look at a couple of web stats and what they might mean to you.

Annually, monthly, weekly, by the day or hour are the most common ways of looking at them. Any date range can be specified so you can have a look at your websites performance in large chunks or tiny slivers of time.

Two of the most important web stats are “sessions” and “pageviews.” Other very important stats are “bounce rate” and “length of session.” Most web statistics programs such as Google Analytics and the Urchin software it is based on can display web stats in a variety of ways. There are a variety of other web stats analysis applications that may already be on your web server.

A “session” is recorded every time a visitor arrives at your site for the first time since the expiration of their last session. Session expiration occurs when activity ceases for a time specified in your server configuration or when the visitor leaves your site.

The “sessions” graph shows the number of visitors your website had in a given time period. In the example graph below (from the logs of a server I use for testing), you can see I had a range of session numbers from 2 to 13.

Urchin Sessions Graph

A “pageview” occurs when a visitor enters a page on your website. A visitor can visit multiple pages during a single session. Pageviews are often mistakenly called “hits” which are a different stat entirely. Calling a “pageview” a “hit” is a lot like calling a Manufactured Home by the “T” word.

The pageviews stat tells you how many of your web pages are being looked at in the specified time. Now we’re ranging from 2 to 126. I like to see 3 or more pageviews per visit on my site – more is great, but less could simply be the result of having a site with few pages to look at. Here is the pageviews graph from my test server.

Urchin Pageview Graph

“Hits” are the most misleading and worthless stats on a web log. A “hit” is recorded every time a page element is loaded. So if you have a web page with 5 images, a link to a JavaScript and a link to a CSS stylesheet, the log will record 8 hits. Anyone can increase their “hit” count by inserting more graphics, even single pixel transparent images.

When you hear someone describe how many “hits” their website is getting, it’s a good bet you can divide that by a factor of 10 to 25. Ask them how many pageviews their site gets. If they can’t answer that, as Lyndon Johnson used to say, “I put my hand on my wallet.” NEVER give advertising money to a website based on the number of “hits” they get. If they use the improper term, it could be an honest mistake (some manufactured home pros still use ‘trailer’), but they should know the difference and should be willing to share the correct data.

Here is a “hits” graph of my test server for the same period as the other two charts. Notice the difference, especially in the Saturday and Monday stats. Do you see how inflated the “hits” stats are? 1,171 hits for 85 pageviews? That’s a ratio of 14 hits per pageview on a site with minimal graphics.

Urchin Hits Graph

“Bounce rate” is determined by the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. They can “bounce” for any number of reasons (for more, see the blog post What is Bounce Rate? What does it mean to you? on BobStovall.com. A decent bounce rate could be anywhere from 33% to 67%. Some one-page sales sites have a bounce rate of 100% and do OK. But if you have a multi-page informational site and you have an unusually high bounce rate (67%-95%) you need to have a look at your site and see what is driving visitors away so quickly.

“Length of Session” is another “tell-tale” stat. It tells you how long the average visitor is spending looking at your web pages per session. It might seem odd, but 2-3 minutes is a pretty good session length. if 66% of your visitors are leaving immediately, the other 33% are staying for 6-9 minutes and that is quite respectable.

There are a lot of other things your web logs can tell you, such as what percentage of your visitors are using Macs or Windows, how many are visiting using Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari, what pages they are entering on, what pages they are leaving from and more.

We’ll delve into more web stats in the future, but I think you now have a good basic understanding of which stats to keep an eye on and what to look for.

Website stats – Caveat emptor?

April 25th, 2010 No comments

“Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used.”
– Dr. Carl Sagan

Web stats chart

Do you rely on website statistics as a basis for your online marketing decisions? If you do, having accurate information would seem very important to you.

Yet, over the past few years I’ve seen repeated evidence that the statistics many of us rely on may be suspect at best. There has been a lot of chatter on the Internet regarding underreporting of website statistics by Google Analytics.

Over the past year, I have been tracking stats on 15 sites that I maintain for myself and for several clients. All 15 sites have Urchin 5 installed to read the server logs as well as Google Analytics.

What I’ve noticed is a very consistent underreporting of the raw numbers on all 15 sites. The underreporting ranged from 15% to 20% once bots and other non-human visitors were removed from the mix.

In one particular case, a new web page showed 17 unique visitors in it’s first week according to our server logs, which were independently verified as having been 17 individual human visitors. But Google Analytics only showed 1 visit to the page. That was an extreme case, but was 100% verifiable.

That incident just noted occurred in January of this year. It is not an old case where the problem has been corrected since. This sheds doubt on all website counts based solely on Google Analytics.

I’ve read many reports from website owners who claim underreporting rates of Google Analytics of 50% or more. In the past I have always found that number to unacceptably high and also unrealistically deviant from the norm. Now, in the light of the facts noted above, I am not so sure.

What could cause this sort of underreporting? While I can’t say with certainty, I suspect it has something to do with Google Analytics reliance on remote JavaScript as it’s method of gathering data. If a visitor has JavaScript turned off, or a network error interrupts the transmission of data from the browser to Google, no visit is registered for that page when a visit has actually taken place.

That said, I still use Google Analytics for the statistical samplings and ratios, such as pageviews per visit and bounce rate. Why? If the sampling is broad enough, even taking the underreporting into account, that such statistics can be considered accurate within acceptable statistical margins of error.

Alexa stats are another issue. We recently had a website with a bounce rate of under 20% according to both our web server logs and Google Analytics, but reported by Alexa with a 79% bounce rate.

That’s a HUGE difference – what could cause that? Well, the reason is the biggest weakness in Alexa stats and a good reason to doubt their veracity at any level. Alexa relies on users with the Alexa toolbar installed to gather data.

Problem – who is the Alexa user base?

Webmasters, designers, marketers and other “web admin” types are heavy users. But the overwhelming majority of consumers and Internet users don’t even know what Alexa is, let alone have it’s toolbar installed. So Alexa stats are almost exclusively created by the people who use the data, not the people who should be included in the data.

Knowing this, it is clear that smaller, niche websites whose user base actually consists of Alexa toolbar users have a decided advantage in Alexa rankings.

If you are using Alexa data to make marketing decisions, be aware that you are basing those decisions on data mostly collected from sellers like yourself, not from the buyers you are trying to reach.

If there is a bottom line to this, it may be that the webserver’s logs are the most accurate form of website statistics. So internally, we use our Urchin 5 statistics for most purposes, because the method of collection is the most accurate.

So when you are looking at website statistics to make marketing or other decisions, please take the following into consideratione. Whose statistics are being used? How were those statistics gathered? Are those statistics from the website’s own server logs, or from a third-party service that does samplings but can’t possibly have completely accurate information apart from the websites own server logs? “Caveat Emptor” – let the buyer beware.

If you’d like another take on this subject from another source, please check out this link:
Another source for Google Analytics underreporting information.