Web stats can be confusing - even for people who are in the industry. There are so many metrics in a website statistics report that people seeing it for the first time get lost in the numbers and just focus on the one thing they recognize - a map of their country with colored areas showing where people are coming from. Hurray - we have two visitors from Tuvalu!
Important Statistic #1: Visitors
Your website statistic report will generally break this number down into visitors (or visits) and unique visitors (or unique visits). This statistic attempts to tell you how many people visit your website, and is the closest thing to what most people think the term "hits" means. Your visits (or visitors) are how many times your website was visited by people while your unique visitors (or unique visits) refer to how many of unique people those visitors were comprised of. A real world example might be that you have 10 visitors to your website, but only five unique visitors because one person visited 6 times.
Important Statistic #2: Page Views
This statistic tells you how many actual pages were viewed by your visitors. It's an important statistic for websites that sell advertising, as most advertising space is valued based on how many times the ad will be seen. But, page views also hold another important piece of information. Dividing your page views by the amount of visits you have to your website will give you the approximate number of pages that your website visitors view per visit. For example, if you have 100 page views and 50 visits, you can estimate that the average visitors to your website views two pages before leaving. That's not too impressive. This can lead you to explore other statistics like Exit Pages, pages that people leave after viewing. The goal is to gain insight as to how well you are presenting and compelling people to perform an action like filling out a form, buying a product, or signing up for your e-mail newsletter.
Important Statistic #3: Keywords and Key Phrases
These reports will show you what search engines your website is being found on as well as what keywords and key phrases people are using to find you. Sometimes, what you will find there is surprising. You might find that the key phrase "peanut butter and jelly" is driving traffic to your website because you mentioned PB&J in one of your blog posts. But, your top keywords and key phrases should not be so surprising. If you are a church in Tampa, you should be receiving traffic under the phrase "churches in Tampa". If you are a furniture business that makes custom chairs, you should be receiving traffic from the phrase "custom furniture". If you aren't, you website pages are not using the right keywords and key phrases, and need to be rewritten.
BONUS: Important Statistic #4: Referring Links
This neat little report shows you what web pages are sending traffic to your website. This is important in order to measure how effective the inbound links you have developed over time really area. You should see all of your affiliates, directories you have posted to, and advertising sources listed there. If you don't, those sources are not sending you traffic and you should consider establishing more inbound links to your website.