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by John Eberhard

So you’ve got a web site and you’re getting some visitors and you’re maybe doing some pay per click advertising and link building. So how do you know how well you’re doing? There are a number of statistics you can use to measure your progress, and it is important to do so.

Desired Action

Every web site will have at least one primary “desired action.” This is the primary thing that you want your visitors to do. For instance, if you are selling clothing on a web site with a shopping cart, then your desired action is having the visitor buy some clothing from the site. If you sell a high ticket item, then usually your web site will be a lead generation site and your desired action will be for the person to call you, or fill out a form on the site.

In lead generation it is often effective to have some kind of free offer, such as a free report which gets sent out to the visitor in PDF format. Or you could be offering a free email newsletter subscription. So some sites could have several desired actions. The point is to track these weekly and see if they are increasing or decreasing.

Web Stats

Many people don’t realize how vital it is to have a web statistics program or service for their web site. If, for example, your site is not getting any leads or sales, the first thing you want to know is how many people are going to the site. It lets you zero in on what to fix.

I have used a lot of statistics programs and services over the years. But a couple years ago Google introduced a service called Google Analytics, where you sign up and they give you a piece of code that you put on every page of your site. And it’s free.

With Google Analytics you can tell how many people are going to your site each week, what pages they are visiting, and where they’re entering and leaving the site. One of the most valuable things is that you can know where your visitors are coming from, what sites are referring them to you. In other words, other sites will have links to your site, and Google Analytics will tell you how many people are coming to your site from each. That includes the search engines and other sites which may have links to yours. And for search engines, it shows you what keywords people entered in the search engines to find your site, and how many people ended up coming to the site via each keyword.

Links to Your Site

Google says the number of links to your site coming from other sites is their most important criteria for deciding your site’s ranking. I’ve talked a lot in other articles about link building and how important this is. But as you’re doing link building, how do you know how many links you have?

There are a number of sites that profess to tell you how many links you have coming to your site, and in my experience these all tend to under-report your links. The most effective method I have found is to go to Google.com and type in: your web URL, with quotes around it, a space, a dash, the word “site”, a colon, then your URL again. So if your site was Yahoo.com:

“yahoo.com” –site:yahoo.com

This brings up the number of links to your site, minus the internal pages of your site that link to other pages on your site.

Anything less than 1,000 links and you need to start doing some link building. Anything from 5,000 to 10,000 is pretty good, depending on how many links your competitors have.

Keyword Ranking

Once you have selected keywords that you want to target, and want to have your site rank well for on search engines, you need to check occasionally and see how well you are ranking. I like to do this once a month. This shows how well your search engine marketing actions are going.

I check the rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Then I add up how many #1 rankings there are, how many top ten rankings, and how many top 100 rankings. Then from month to month you can see if your rankings are getting better or worse. If they are getting better your strategy is good. If they’re getting worse you need to revise your strategy.

I use a software package to do this called Internet Business Promoter. You can enter your URL, your list of keywords, and for which search engine you want the rankings. It runs a report which you can print out or export to a spreadsheet.

Summary

Here’s how often I would track the above:

  1. Desired actions: weekly
  2. General web stats like visits, page views, etc.: weekly
  3. Links to your site: weekly
  4. Keyword ranking: monthly

Tracking these statistics will show you how well you are doing, will show when you’re doing the right thing, and show you when you are not doing well and need to make adjustments.

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