There is specific data about your web site that you should be looking at in your log files on a regular basis. Several variables should be examined monthly or even weekly to ensure your site design and page optimization is on the right track:
1. Entry Paths
Most sites can be developed and analysed around the concept of visitor pathways. If, for example, your site is a Business to Business (B2B) site and you service small, medium and large businesses, there should be pathways through your site designed
for each class of visitor. An extremely simplified example would be:
Clients coming to the site through an optimized home page:
home page —> small business page -@@END_COMMENT order page -@@END_COMMENT order confirmation page
home page -@@END_COMMENT medium business page -@@END_COMMENT order page -@@END_COMMENT order confirmation page
home page -@@END_COMMENT large business page -@@END_COMMENT order page -@@END_COMMENT order confirmation page
The site entry pages for these pathways are often optimized home pages or optimized content pages. The final page of this route is often the action that you want clients to take on your site (e.g., sign up for your newsletter, buy your products online or contact you for further information). You can easily determine how effective your pathways are by tracking the entry paths on a regular basis via your site stats.
You should have some idea of the main pathways that clients take through your site, both for monitoring the effectiveness of your page optimization and conversions, and for the purpose of subsequent site redesign(s). A good starting point to track the pathways through your site is via the graph or chart called “Entry Paths” in your log files / site statistics.
2. Top Exit Pages
These are pages from which most visitors click away from your site. Why is it useful to track these? Because exit pages can tell you:
a. If there is a technical problem with the page that is causing visitors to leave your site. For example, if there are broken links, or the form on the page is not working properly etc.
b. If your site design is breaking the strategic pathway, for example, you may have links to external sites that are inducing clients to click away before buying your product or signing up for your newsletter.
c. If there is something on these pages that is encouraging visitors to leave your site. For example, an unprofessional design or confusing layout.
In your log files / site statistics, the graph or chart called “Top Exit Pages” is the place to learn why visitors are leaving your site.
3. Single Access Pages
These are entry pages that are viewed once before the visitor clicks away from your site. Similar to Top Exit Pages, Single Access Pages can tell you a lot about why people are not staying on your site for long.
Have a close look at the search terms used to find your site. Single Access Pages can often indicate that your target search terms are too broad. For example, you may be getting a lot of traffic by targeting “printer cartridges” but if you only stock a particular brand of cartridge, then people seeking other brands are not going to find what they truly seek when they arrive at your site so they will leave immediately. This can be resolved by narrowing down your search terms to be more targeted and focused on your niche products and services, for example, by changing “printer cartridges” to “HP printer cartridges” and so on.
To see what pages of your site are viewed once, look for the graph or chart called “Single Access Pages” in your log files / site statistics.