By John Eberhard

One of the most important aspects of managing a web site is finding out and then monitoring regularly, how much traffic is coming to the site.

I have written some articles on Google Analytics, which is what I recommend for web statistics, because it is quite good, it is free, and most other web statistics software and services are pretty expensive. And the free ones you get with most hosting plans usually are pretty awful.

So you set up a Google Analytics account, then it will give you some HTML code which you put on every page of your site and which is invisible to users. Then it will start tracking your visitors, which pages they are viewing, where they come from, and which keywords they typed in if they found you on a search engine.

I recommend tracking how many visitors your site is getting weekly and graph this. You may wonder if the number of visitors you are getting is a good number or a bad number. This depends entirely on what type of business you have, whether it is local or national, and other factors.

Now let’s say that you are using your web site to do lead generation, i.e. getting people to fill out a form giving you their contact information so your sales guy can contact them and sell them. Now that you know how many visitors you are getting per week, you can compare that to how many leads the site is generating. This gives you a conversion percentage for your web site overall. Take the number of leads and divide this by the number of visitors, and move the decimal over two places to the right. That gives you your conversion percentage.

A good conversion percentage for a web site is anywhere between 0.5% and 2.0%. A 0.5% conversion rate means that for every 200 visitors, one person would fill out your form and become a lead. 2.0% means that for 200 visitors, 4 people would fill out a form. If it’s higher than those percentages, that’s even better. Internet marketing guru Ed Dale, who recently ran his 30 Day Challenge training program in August, says that none of his businesses have ever gotten over 0.5% as a conversion percentage, and he has made millions online. I would say that for sites where you are doing lead generation, your conversion percentage would be higher and if you are directly selling products online, you percentage would be lower.

So armed with this information, you then know what to do to improve your online leads or sales.

For instance, let’s say your site is getting about 200 visitors a week, and generating one lead per week. That’s a conversion percentage of 0.5% which is an acceptable percentage. But one lead per week isn’t going to make anyone rich, so you know that your correct target is to get more traffic coming to your site, by doing things like pay per click advertising, writing blog articles, or putting out press releases.

On the other hand, let’s say your site is regularly getting 5,000 visitors per week, and generating 5 leads per week. That’s a conversion percentage of only 0.1% which is pretty poor. So in that case you would know that you have to make adjustments to the web site itself in order to entice more people to fill out a form or buy something. This would usually be along the lines of making your offers more prominent or coming up with brand new offers that are more appealing to your target public.

Having these statistics and monitoring them regularly also makes it possible to make changes to your operation, either changes to the web site to increase the conversion percentage, or changes to your promotional efforts to drive more people to the site, and then see how effective they were.

So if you make some changes to the site to increase the conversion percentage, but then your conversion percentage goes down, you know right away that you have to put the site back to the way it was before (always keep the older version of a web site when you make changes).

It’s usually good to make only one change at a time, so that if statistics go up as a result, you know what change made that happen.

By monitoring these statistics you can truly manage your web site and make it more productive for your business.