Refining a Website based on Visitor Statistics

By | June 1, 2007

Most webmasters or website owners fill their website with content they believe the visitor will like. After all you want them to come back for a second time. But how can you make sure that the content you make is attracting visitors and inspiring them to come back.

Well there are a few ways to find out what the people visiting your site are interested in. When you have this information you can start refining the content on your website. If you for instance wrote something about a Ferrari. And you get a lot of visitor searching for ferrari tires, you may want to add some content about that.

Finding the needed information
Lets first go into where you can find the information you will need to refine your website. No matter how, you will always end up trying to pursue your visitors to give more information then they might like.

One way of doing this is by using polls or questionairs. This is a very useful tool, but with one major drawback. If you don’t already have a steady visitor base it won’t work. How often have you entered a website and clicked away an anyoing popup asking you to answer some questions. Most new visitors don’t like questionairs.

A second way is by tracking every move a visitor makes on your website. This will provide information on how they navigate through the site. Which in turn indicates which information they find highly relevant. Big downside is that it requires a lot of disk space. Even worse you have to make some type of mention of this in the privacy policy. Last drawback is that it doesn’t provide information on what the visitor was looking for when he came to your website.

The third and far better way, at least I think so, is to log how the visitor came to the website. Some questions could be:

  • For instance did he originate from a search engine. If so what keywords did he search with. What could he be looking for.
  • Was the visit from my own website. If so did he use a search feature and what keywords. If not what related page did he come from.
  • Was the visit from an external website. What is the content of that page. How does it appeal to the visitor.

This logging can be done quite easily as all the information is stored in the HEAD information sent by the visitors web-browser. (Please note that you can’t fully rellie on this as it can be manipulated). Various other tricks are available as well to get this information, but more on that in a follow up article about data mining.

Using the information to refine the content
Now that you have the information you still need to put it to good use. So lets asume that your website is about cars. And it has a section on Ferrari. You have a lot of content on the various cars. But you don’t have information on the various parts of the cars.

Now in your data-mining (the steps described above :)) you find out that a lot of visitors come to your site through search engines. But they are looking for tyres that are for the Ferrari 250GT. Initially when creating the website you never thought this might be useful information.

After making this discovery you could decide to add new content to the pages of the various cars with details about the tyres. How they perform and which are best for which models. By doing so you appeal to your visitors as they now find information they are interested in.

A second type of discovery you may encounter is that your website structure (including navigation) may be wrong. For example people looking for the tyre information never found the content on the website. But it does exists. This may mean they just can’t find any navigation to it. Keep in mind that most visitors only spend a few seconds looking for ‘useful’ information before moving along.

So make sure your information is easy accessible!!!!!

Now that you now some basics of refining your website you can start. But start with some small things first, just to try it out.

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