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Numbers Don't Lie - Are Your Web Stats Accurate?

Kristen Fowler Lindsey - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Web statistics are an incredibly powerful tool to determine the success of your online business. But the decisions you make are entirely dependent on the accuracy of your statistics.

How can you be sure your stats are accurate? Generally as you dig deeply into your stats, some funny numbers may reveal that your stats are not configured correctly.

Here are two real life examples of when reports indicate some web stats issues:

  • Monthly pay-per-click traffic is higher than monthly search engine referrals traffic on your web stats. One of the first things to check. This occurred with an ASP version of web stats, and one of the primary traffic-producing pages on the site did not have the web stats code on it. The reports were missing important traffic data, and overall traffic reported was low.
  • A small site was reporting lots of traffic, but the top paths report had paths that cannot be possible. This company had not filtered employees from its traffic and a marketing staff had been making site updates. These updates were recorded as traffic, and in this case significantly inflated reporting.

So if you ever see some statistics that don't seem to make sense, ask why. It could mean that there are some anomalies in your data that can easily be fixed.

Some things you can check to improve the accuracy of your web statistics:

  1. Be sure your employees are filtered out of the results. This is especially important if, for example, you have reservations agents and they use your site frequently when assisting customers.
  2. Ensure that there is a consistent process to get web stats code onto every new page. Pages without code cannot be counted.
  3. Talk with your IT department of web contractor (whoever is managing your statistics) and have them review your stats configurations with you. Knowing, for example, what length of time is considered one session will help you evaluate your stats more effectively. (30 minutes is generally standard for this)

Web statistics are one of the most powerful tools in your online arsenal, but only if they are properly implemented. A few checks can help you make sure.

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