Who’s Visiting Your Site?

One of the most important aspects of owning a website is keeping track of how your site visitors use it. That's where web stats come in. (To see stats on your XSite, just hover the XSite button at the top of the screen and then clicking Stats.) Marketing pros in the 21st century are required to be well versed in web logs - especially when dealing with huge web sites and large marketing budgets. Luckily, for an appraiser, basic knowledge of web stats is really all you need to make decisions about your site content and have an effective site. So, let's start with some terminology you'll see in your stats:

Page Views - This is how many pages on your website are actually viewed by a person. One person will more than likely view more than one page on your site. For instance, many times a person will enter your site via the homepage and then click on your Featured Listings link to visit that page. This would count as 2 page views. The more page views per site visitor the better, because it means your visitors are finding information on your site that is interesting and relevant.

Entry Pages - These are the pages where your visitors enter your website. Many times this is your homepage. However, you might find one of your other pages ranks high in a search engine and brings visitors directly to it. Or you may build a landing page that you dedicate to a specific marketing campaign - tracking visits to that page as an Entry Page can help tell you how successful that campaign is. See "Use landing pages to track ROI" for more information.

Note: When viewing stats on your XSite, you can click the column headers to sort on that column. Likewise, you can adjust the dates using the fields to the right of the stats.

Unique Visitors - This number is how many actual people have visited your site. One visitor can visit your site multiple times in a specified period - for instance in one day. Each unique person that visits your site counts once even if that person visits your site multiple times.

Repeat Visitors - These are people that have come to your website on more than one occasion. These are your most valuable visitors, because it means you have information on your site that changes often and is interesting and relevant to this group of people. One of your biggest goals should be to get as many repeat visitors as possible, and it's a big reason to have a blog that you update often.

Entry Pages - These are the pages where your visitors enter your website. Many times this is your homepage. However, you might find one of your other pages ranks high in a search engine and brings visitors directly to it. Or you may build a landing page that you dedicate to a specific marketing campaign - tracking visits to that page as an Entry Page can help tell you how successful that campaign is. See "Use landing pages to track ROI" for more information.

Referring Sites - These are sites that link to yours that drive traffic to your sites. Whenever you get a visitor based on a link from another site, that site will show up as a referrer. These can come from a variety of sources like search engines, sites where you've exchanged links, links included in press releases and articles about your company, and sites that found your site relevant and have linked to it simply because they want to.

Search Terms - When a search engine sends a visitor to your site, you always get the search term the visitor used at the search engine. This could be one of the most important aspects of analyzing your website statistics. It tells you what keywords people are using to find you. You can also use this to figure out if certain keywords produce visitors that get more out of your site via the number of pages they view and if they become a repeat visitor.

Putting your stats to work

Now that you're armed with the important information concerning your website statistics, you can take the information and build on it. It's important to first build a baseline.

* How many visitors do you get over a week or a month? How many pages does your average site visitor view?
* How many of your visitors continue to come back to your site?
* What are your most popular pages including entry pages?
* What sites are your top referrers including search engines.
* What are the most common search terms people use to find you? Are these search terms relevant to the service you're offering?

If you have an XSite, you can build this baseline using your XSite statistics and get basic information. Or, if you want to really dive into web marketing, you can use a powerful website statistics package like the free Google Analytics or other packages like HitsLink or nextSTAT which may charge a small monthly fee. Each of these stats packages can easily be incorporated into your XSite by adding tracking code to the custom footer. If you're not using an XSite, you'll need to access to your HTML code to enable stats tracking with one of these packages. Once you do that, every page that is hit will be logged allowing you to really start watching how your website is performing.

Once you have your baseline built, use the information you've gathered and take action. Realize that not every visitor is created equal. You want to generate visitors to your site that closely match the service you have to offer. Make sure to capture your niche market with your site. Tailor the contents of your site around your most likely visitor and what he or she finds compelling. The more specific you can make your site, the more likely you will attract the customer that is happiest with your service and will generate repeat and referral business.

Here are some specific objectives you work towards for your website:

Set a goal of getting more page views per site visitor. Analyze which visitors viewed which pages and try to assign a reason. Maybe the text description of the link was compelling, inspiring the visitor to click on it. You can use link descriptions like the way headlines work in a newspaper. Maybe the paragraph that leads into a link really caught your visitor's attention. You might find your likely site visitors are more likely to read a short description and then click a link. Or maybe an image you included on your page caused your visitors to click. Once you've identified the reason, model your other pages and the links to those pages around these top performers. If a more descriptive link works, use it. If however, you find your site visitors tend to click on more generic links, use those. Ultimately, you want your site visitors to be so enthralled with your site that they visit every page.

Analyze where your repeat visitors go. Are they coming back to order? Are they coming back to read your blog? Whatever they're doing, add more of it to your site or make sure any message you want to get across is on the pages they're viewing. Repeat visitors are the most likely group of people to send referrals your way.

Look at the sites referring traffic to you. Do area colleagues refer to you? Have you included your site on pages like your local chamber of commerce? Once you discover the source of your traffic, figure out what you're missing. The best way to drive traffic to your site is to build the number of links to your pages from other websites. This will get you more referrals and increase your position in search engine results pages. For more detailed information on link building, click here.

Which search terms generate the most traffic to your site? Which search terms do you think should drive traffic to your site? If you're not getting search engine referrals for some of these terms, make sure the terms show up in your pages. Also, make sure you're setting a realistic goal. You want to pick terms that are specific and identifiable and then make sure you repeat them in your page titles, descriptions, and content. Make sure you sign up for Google Webmaster tools in the "Search Engine Tools" of your XSite Control Panel. If you don't have an XSite, If you dont' have an XSite, you can still do this directly through Google. Google provides resources that tell you what keywords they find on your site as well as where your site ranks in relation to search terms.

Use your site statistics to your advantage by evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing. Create specific pages for email or print campaigns and link directly to them. You can gauge the effectiveness of your marketing by counting the number of visits you get to these dedicated pages. See our agent article regarding "Use landing pages to track ROI" for more information.

Keep track of how your leads found you and make sure you build on that trend by continuing to do what worked. Many times, you'll get a lead via the phone or email but in reality the person found you via your website. The first question you should always ask is ‘how did you find me'. Take that information and add it as a note to the contact. Assign something you'll remember. This information gathering will build up over time and will let you know the aspects of your website that are paying off the most. Once you've found it, stick to it.

Owners of the most successful websites use the statistics available and factor them in every decision concerning their sites. You do not need to make changes and cross your fingers that those changes will work. You can make educated decisions about your site and then measure how these decisions impact your business.