Four Kitchens

Starting out with web analytics

3 Min. ReadDigital strategy

Maybe you are a non-profit or a small business with staff that wears many hats. Or maybe your company is new to web analytics and you are still trying to get your management team interested. You know you need to track your web metrics, but it is going to be another task among many.

When you head out onto the web for research, you are completely overwhelmed with the amount of information that’s available. Maybe you have already know of some of these prominent websites and blogs: Analytics Demystified, Kissmetrics, Web Analytics World, or even Google’s own blog. But information on these sites can be very technical and in-depth on a single topic—great resources for full-time analyst, but not so great when you’re just starting out.

But then where should you start when you don’t have much time to dedicate to web analytics? How do you grow what you’re tracking over time to not get overwhelm or scare off management?

Ask the right questions

In order to collect the data that will give you the best answers, you first have to ask the right questions. Start by thinking in terms of questions like:

  • What pages were requested?
  • How many visitors are coming to the website?
  • What percentage of these were new visitors?
  • Are visitors returning and how often?
  • Where are visitors coming from?
    • direct traffic (when someone types your website address directly into their browser, or uses a previously saved bookmark)
    • referring sites (sites that link to you)
    • search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others that list your site in keyword search results)
    • campaigns (likely determined by your marketing team)
    • social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • When (what days or months) does the website have highs and lows in traffic? Are those traffic changes driven by content releases, seasonality, or outside influences?
  • How many of the visitors leave without viewing another page?
  • How many pages were viewed during a visit?
  • How much time are visitors spending on your site?
  • Are those visitors who are viewing more pages also spending more time on the website? If these two measures do not correlate, you probably have frustrated users not finding their desired content!
  • What are the most popular search terms that lead to your site?
    • Are those terms closely tied to the name of the website or do visitors find our website by searching the types of services or information that the website provides? (example: Billy’s House of Brakes vs. brake repair shop)
  • What keywords and keyword concepts are visitors using in the on-site search?
  • What are the top pages search engines refer visitors to?
  • Which pages receive the most visitors? What content is being consumed by the user?
  • Do these pages correlate to the pages that search engines are referring visitors to?
  • Are your top ten pages different for visitors accessing the site from web browsers vs. mobile browsers?

Swimming with the clickstream

When starting out, you’ll first track what the industry calls clickstream data— the basic interaction between a visitor and website. Clickstream data measures what visitors have already done on your site, such as:

  • page views
  • sessions
  • visitors
  • time spent on the site
  • time spent on key pages
  • page depth per visit
  • bounce rate
  • new vs. returning visitors
  • visitor recency
  • on-site search queries
  • traffic sources
  • search engine keyword queries


Once you understand your clickstream data, segmenting it will provide you with deeper insights. Possible segmentations include:

  • time: hour, day, week, month, season and year
  • content: pages, downloaded files, subscriptions, offsite links, on-site search queries, page depth compared to time on site
  • marketing: referring domains, sites, pages, social media, or email links and referring search keywords
  • technology: browser – web/mobile, browser version, platform, mobile devices, screen size
  • demographics: country, state/locale, city, zip code and other “where”-type information about your visitors

Next steps

These questions and ideas will get you started with thinking about web analytics, but it really is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can learn about your visitors. Once you have mastered answering these questions, you can dig deeper into your web analytics strategy, especially with a well-informed partner like Four Kitchens!