Web Analytics: Your Essential Guide

web analytics

This guide is packed full of useful web analytics information, for both beginners and experts alike. Learn what the term web analytics means, which tools are best and how they can be used to benefit your business… It’s felt by many that to fully master web analytics you need to be a mathematician of Einstein proportions, but it’s just not the case. Use these clear definitions, best practices and deep insight to understand the true power of your business website.

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What is web analytics?

The term “analytics” outlines the process of collecting data and analyzing it to draw out any patterns or trends, really looking at what that data is telling us. It’s like converting a list of numbers into usable information and action points. With this knowledge, it’s easy to connect the dots – the term “web analytics” refers to this process specifically when applied to data drawn from a website. This data is vast in its array but is often in metric form (numerical) and generally includes figures such as overall web traffic and page visits.

Why should businesses use web analytics tools?

Whilst almost anyone with a website can see value from understanding their web analytics, they predominantly benefit those using their website to drive brand awareness and new business/revenue. The insight gained from web analytics allows businesses to understand their online presence and gauge their current website success.

To any business, a website is vital; the online nucleus and lifeblood of marketing campaigns, pipeline success and customer retention. It makes sense to know the finer workings of your business website, so decisions can be made to constantly improve the results you gain from it (be it conversions, downloads or form fills). Web analytics offer definitive and objective understanding, giving businesses the best chance to dominate their online market.

What can a web analytics tool do for me?

Identify trends

A vital part of any analytics process, your chosen tool/s can gather the necessary data and get you started on the road to trend discovery. Easily see which areas of your website have the greatest impact on your desired results, and how these positive or negative impacts then affect your user navigation and user experience.

Help understand channel performance

Most B2B marketing channels have an online element leading back to their website, be it through an email link, social media landing page or content download. Reading the data from web analytics tools allows marketers to gain seriously valuable insight into their channel performance, understanding how audiences perceive and respond to campaigns driving new business revenue.

User analysis

Web analytics tools offer more than just numbers; they allow us to string together user journeys and fully understand how visitors interact with your site. Know how users find your site, which pages they interact with and when they leave, use this information to improve your website usability and navigation.

Client retention

Some analytics tools (like Lead Forensics) offer the advanced ability to categorize visitors, enabling users to differentiate between prospects and clients. It’s easy to see how clients currently use your website, and how you can use their behaviours to promote upsell/cross-sell opportunities and boost retention revenue.


Some tools offer businesses the ability to edit their site to optimize results; some tools offer heatmaps, giving the ultimate data on specific web page success. Understanding how users react to a specific call to action, images and copy blocks allows faster website optimization and results in uplift.

A/B split testing

As a business website carries such weight and has an enormous effect on results in many areas, the testing any changes is of vital importance. Certain web analytics tools offer real-time results, so businesses can easily A/B test changes to understand what effect certain page/navigation elements have on audiences. This is especially useful when driving website traffic with PPC, or other paid services, where every click costs.


Gaining return on investment is, of course, the key goal for us all and to achieve this from web analytics tools is often easy. Not only are there a selection of free tools on offer, but understanding your website to the intricate level only web analytics tools offer can have a huge effect on revenue. From new business opportunities to sales pipeline progression and retention, web analytics tools offer the ability to boost them all for optimum ROI.

A brief history of web analytics

Whilst the notion of measuring and analyzing your website success seems commonplace these days, it hasn’t always been so. Let’s look at the history of web analytics, and some vital vocab encountered along the way.

Whilst web analytics was in its infancy in the early ’90s the Web Analytics Association didn’t propose their standardized definition until 2006, showing you how long the term and the ideal took to build.

Web analytics started simple, with basic tools counting very general, overarching figures. As time progressed, the way these tools collected and presented data advanced as did the scope of information on offer. As web analytics converted from log-based data collection to JavaScript tag-based analytics (more on that below…), around the year 2000, the process saw its first shift, when Google purchased Urchin, which was then redeveloped and released as the free tool Google Analytics in 2005. Web analytics impacted the business world with a rapid effect.

Over time the ability to gather and analyze website data became universal and simple. To this day Google Analytics remains the most popular tool, but many crave deeper and more accessible data. The future of web analytics aims to show more than just “overall visits”, it aims to prove the intent of each individual visit, allowing users the see their website through their visitor’s eyes.

Here are some key terms and moments in web analytics history:

  • Log-based data collection
  • Hit counters
  • Alexa rank
  • JavaScript tag-based analytics

Log-based data collection

This is the real-time analysis of records generated by servers or devices and provided the backbone for early website analytics. It’s often used to highlight system errors, intrusion attempts and security issues but was also used to measure basic website metrics in the early ’90s.

A web-server automatically creates log files containing visitor information such as visit duration and pages visited, and although these files were usually used to measure bandwidth issues, it was discovered they could also be decoded to reveal website data.

This method was only able to provide the big, overarching figures such as overall traffic, meaning businesses had to do the analysis part themselves, but this was nonetheless an enormous insight into early online activity. The problem was, this data was often inaccurate and very basic, and as the reliance on business websites increased so did the need for a more advanced solution.

Hit counters

These were very early web analytics tools which paved the way for the more advanced software on offer today. Very simply, a hit counter is installed on a webpage to count the number of unique visits. Though a basic idea, these counters can be hugely effective in understanding brand engagement, as the counter only counts new IP addresses it offers a basic understanding of website reach.

Though these are still popular widgets today, they involve very little set-up and maintenance, many have now become more advanced to meet the market’s needs. Modern hit counters often include information regarding keywords, visitor origin, traffic patterns and visit time/date.

Alexa rank

This sudden influx of web analytics lead to the creation of the Alexa rank, aiming to prove how websites measure against each other over a 3-month period. Gauging overall traffic across the specified period, Alexa offers business insight into how their website compares to others and how it’s perceived by an outside audience.

This rank appears helpful but is almost notorious for its inaccuracy, offering “very rough” estimates of where websites rank on a global scale. However, Alexa (owned by Amazon) continually aim to improve their rank, ensuring it offers businesses beneficial insight.

It will likely come as no surprise to know that Google is consistently rated the number 1 website by Alexa, with each user viewing an average of 7.93 pages per day.

JavaScript tag-based analytics

Around the year 2000, it became clear that the log-based web analytics couldn’t offer businesses the metrics they craved, so the JavaScript tag-based method came into play. A snippet of code is applied to each webpage that gathers visitor information and cookies, the information is then bundled into a string of code that is sent to a host for the user to access.

Whilst this is often a higher cost option and means using different privacy settings (due to the use of Cookies), it does offer far more detailed metrics with a high level of accuracy. This method is also able to offer more than just numbers, helping businesses gain insight into trends and user behaviour in real time, without the need to “do the maths”. This was the solution needed to move with the web analytics times and with the release of Google Analytics, this method became commonplace for web analytics tools and solutions.

Different types of web analytics software

To help businesses master their data and use metrics to make impactful improvements, a web analytics tool is needed. There is no shortage in choice, each tool offers different metrics, perks and benefits.

What types of web analytics software are on offer?

As each business places a different reliance on their website, and all have different goals and desired outcomes from their site; it makes sense that one size doesn’t fit all. Many web analytics tools offer various solutions to meet business needs of all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right tool for your site is essential.

Basic software tools offer the “big picture” data, like the older hit counters we spoke about in Chapter 1. Providing metrics such as overall web traffic, popular pages and visitor browsers, most web analytics tools offer these figures as standard. These are the “need-to-know” numbers, offering a well-rounded website overview, but no deeper detail.

More advanced tools offer further insight into visitor behaviour, and how your website is navigated. With functions like heatmaps and visitor recordings, users can gain a deep understanding of what areas of their website are successful, and what areas are hindering results, allowing them to make data driven improvements for better conversion.

The most advanced tools offer extra luxuries for optimum website understanding and analysis. Lead Forensics for example offers the big picture figures whilst also identifying anonymous website traffic to offer a tool that focuses on both website analytics and new business lead generation. These tools are multi-talented, giving users the vital web analytics they need whilst helping them fuel their sales pipeline for revenue generation and business growth.

How do the web analytics tools work?

As mentioned in previously, the two key methods used by web analytics tools lie in log-based and JavaScript tag-based data collection and processing. But we can dig a little deeper to see what modern tools are using, and how these features may evolve into new analytic-capabilities.

JavaScript events

We now know that JavaScript code can be added to a webpage, gathering the necessary data ready to pass onto the tool in question – fuelled by JavaScript events. Essentially, whenever an action takes place on your website, it’s called an “event”. Someone clicks on a link, a page loads, an input field changes – all these are events that the JavaScript code can use to push data to an analytics platform that later provides deep website metrics and analysis. This is used by all JavaScript fuelled tools, providing an essential element of web analytics success.

Tag manager (Google)

In early 2013, Google Tag Manager was released as an addition to Google Analytics and caused some confusion. This software made it easy for users to manage the JavaScript tags/snippets offered by other Google tools such as Analytics and Adwords. The tool offers a simple space to collect and oversee tags, allowing users to manage specific, dynamic variables heading up web pages. This tool is an optimal solution for eCommerce or advanced semantic mark-up. Google Tag Manager offers useful benefits to marketers, allowing them to add and change page header code snippets without calling on a web developer.

Tracking pixels

Website analytics tools often use tracking pixels as an unobtrusive way to gather analytical data. A small 1×1 pixel can be inserted into a webpage or an email and when loaded it will trigger a web server request allowing hosts to keep track of how often this resource has been requested and where from. This simple but clever method not only offers web analytics metrics but can also offer insight into conversion success.

Why do some web analytics tools show different figures?

This is a common question asked by those using a range of web analytics tools together. Using multiple tools is a familiar solution for many businesses, gaining the fullest picture possible of website activity and user behaviour. However, it’s often the case that those big data figures that almost every tool reads don’t always match up – why is this?

The answers are very simple, it’s likely that the tools differ in how they count metrics – a key example being Google Analytics and Lead Forensics in how they count website traffic. When running Google Analytics, if someone visits your website multiple times within a 30-minute slot, this is counted as one singular visit, whereas Lead Forensics counts every individual website visit. This leads to a difference in the number of overall website visitors.

Other reasons for metric discrepancies can include incorrect installation of the tracking code, poor URL tagging and problems with cookies specifically first party versus third party.

Cookies are small text files that carry user profile and activity data; first party cookies are associated with the domain to which they are applied, and third party cookies are not, they’re associated with another domain. These cookies then send information to the processing server (not necessarily the same server hosting the website) to provide the information we know as web analytics/metrics.

Discrepancies occur, as different tools use different cookies, some first party, and some third, and they are programmed to collect data in differing ways and count different elements. Therefore the information collected by the tools reading these cookies will differ and offer contrasting results.

The important thing to be aware of is that these differing numbers don’t render the tools useless – you’re still able to see trends and decipher links and patterns; if anything, it’s handy seeing multiple tool readings – it’s like getting a second opinion! If a result surprises you, check a similar reading was found on your other tool(s) – then you know it’s not anomalous.

Web analytics and its uses

To match the vast array of website analytics tools on offer, there’s also loads of different values and metrics you can analyze. Know your website goals, what you need your website to be achieving, then look through these types of analysis – what ones suit your needs best?

Basic web analytics

What are they?

These are the “big picture” figures offering a great overview of your website. Values such as overall traffic, page views and visit duration offer the need-to-know numbers, a great start for web analytics.

How can I use them?

These numbers firstly set your expectations on current brand reach and SEO success – are enough people finding your website? If not, why not? They also help you understand how engaging your site is, and what pages are popular (and equally unpopular), allowing businesses to enhance the pages that offer good conversion and improve those that need a lift.


These numbers are arguably essential for any businesses, as they offer vital analysis. These numbers show in most basic form if a website is successful, or if it needs work. These results are objective and easy to work with – no questions asked.


Whilst they are vital to understanding your website, this analysis is what it says on the tin – basic. It offers a broad overview, users need to spend time delving into the numbers to draw out theories behind the results.


These basic analytics are common in most tools. We can recommend:

  • Google Analytics: free, simple, and the most popular web analytics tool for basic numbers.
  • Open Web Analytics: though this tool requires you to host the required files on your own server, it’s informative in its analysis.

Web analysis heatmaps

What are they?

Heatmaps offer an image of your website page, with the most clicked-on/interacted with sections highlighted, and visitor recordings are just that – a recording of someone’s journey across your site.

How can I use them?

This sort of website analysis offers advanced insight into visitor behaviour, telling organizations how people use their website. It’s easy to understand which elements of specific pages can be changed to impact results, for example you may see from a heatmap lots of visitors click on your logo – does this take them to a strong call-to-action page, or back to your homepage?


These analytics are advanced in their insight and offer businesses direct action points to make improvements. Where other tools leave it to the users to decipher possible weak spots on their web pages, this information tells businesses exactly what can be improved.


These analytics don’t give you any information about the quality of your visiting audience. You gain data to make changes to increase the number of conversions, but are they the right visitors in the first place? Do they meet your sales qualifications? Will they genuinely want your product? Making changes based purely on these results can heavily reduce your lead quality.


There are some great tools for these analyses. We love:

  • Hotjar: With free and charged options, this insightful tool offers both heatmaps and visitor recordings, and loads more!
  • Crazy Egg: The most popular heatmap tool, offering advanced A/B testing for any webpage changes.

Audience identification web analytics

What are they?

These analytics tell users about the businesses visiting their website, offering visitor identification information – usually the business name, along with some extra details, contact details, further company information etc.

How can I use them?

Businesses can use these details to firstly understand the audience they’re drawing onto the website. Are they businesses that could have an interest in your product? This helps inform marketing efforts ensuring the website gets the right visitors. The business details also allow sales teams to take conversions into their own hands and contact their website leads.


This data fully enlightens website analysts about the audience they attract. Businesses can easily understand if their marketing efforts attract the correct audience and can also take better control of conversions with visit follow-up communications.


Some businesses find this detail too deep for their current needs, so don’t start out with the information. The time comes later to gain this detailed data.


We would of course recommend…

  • Lead Forensics: Our advanced website analytics tool offers incredible insight into the basic analysis figures alongside visitor identification for a holistic understanding of website performance.

Application web analytics

What are they?

As web analytics collect data from a website, application analytics do the same but for a mobile/tablet application. If your businesses has an app, then you’ll want to know how people use it!

How can I use them?

Many business apps are used by customers. Understanding how they interact with the application benefits an organization’s understanding of how their product is perceived and used by clients, and how they can benefit retention efforts through cross-sell/upsell.


These analytics complete the set – if you’re planning to unlock the power of your website with analytics, then don’t forget to include your app too! App analytics also offer interesting insight in regards client engagement for those who don’t have a website used by clients, allowing for an advanced understanding of client behaviour in addition to prospects on your website.


These analytics only cover those who use your app, which is likely to be a lesser audience than those on your website. Without sufficient app marketing, people won’t use it, so your analytics will be bare and offer unreliable results.


Whilst there are many app analytics tools, we’ve heard this one is top notch:

  • Uxcam: With qualitative insights as well as hard data, businesses can easily see how audiences interact with their app.

Social web analytics

What are they?

These analytics measure the success of a business’s social media channel in relation to online presence. In basic form, these analytics understand how many followers you have across platforms, but more advanced social analytics look to how much web traffic is encouraged by social media, and how social pages affect SEO rankings.

How can I use them?

Businesses can understand how their brand is perceived by the masses on social platforms, improve their platform pages and presence to encourage desired engagement and drive further website traffic by understanding their best audiences.


Being present on social media is almost as essential as having a website, so it makes sense to analyze your performance and success in a similar way with these analytics. A majority of B2B marketers are struggling to see ROI from social media – looking into this data will change that.


Like the app analytics, these figures relate back to your website, but don’t focus on it wholly meaning you may get misleading results. It’s also very easy to get bogged down in vanity metrics with social analytics – is knowing how many likes you get going to impact your pipeline? Probably not…


Social media has proven an impactful channel for many businesses, these tools can help you maximize your efforts:

  • Sprout Social: Covering all main social media platforms, this tool suits any businesses active on social media.
  • Hootsuite: Offering detailed metric insight and vital reporting for businesses keen to see social media ROI.

Analyzing website traffic sources with web analytics

There’s not just one way to land on a business website. Your visitors will have all encountered your brand in a different way and ended up on your website for a myriad of reasons. Let’s delve into traffic sources and discover how people find your website.

What is direct traffic?

This is traffic that hasn’t seen any other channel or the referrer data has been stripped from the browser. Examples include a website URL that is entered directly into the browser or is saved and used as a bookmark or favourite page. Almost all web analysis tools measure and analyze these visits, and if you see the number of direct visits increasing – this is good! It means more people know you by name and don’t need to use a search engine to find your site.

What is organic traffic?

This is where all of your SEO hard work kicks in! Organic traffic has come to your site after searching for one (or some) of your keywords, seen your naturally ranking website and clicked onto your webpage. This source does not apply to any traffic that accessed your website through PPC, or another paid source used to improve your web ranking – hence it’s “organic” title.

Many tools can show organic traffic visiting your site, but some can offer an advanced insight into the specific keywords searched that promoted your organic ranking. Due to Google encryptions, this isn’t as simple as it once was, but tools such as Lead Forensics still have the ability to offer this information.

What is paid traffic?

This refers specifically to traffic entering your website through pay-per-click advertising used to claim a top spot on search engine rankings. Like organic traffic, many tools can measure this source, but few can offer the exact keyword used in the original search. Monitoring this traffic is very valuable, as PPC campaigns can become very expensive and you want to ensure the clicks you pay for come from businesses who match your sales criteria, to give you the best chance of converting them into a client.

What is referral traffic?

This source name covers a number of traffic drivers, that many tools are able to differentiate between. Broadly it covers all traffic sent to your website by an inbound link. Some include social media in this, others don’t. Some include subdomains and landing pages held with other providers (such as Unbounce) – in many ways, deciding what “referral” means is very personal to your business needs and the tool you use. Some tools have an array of sourcing “pots”, showing you precisely which ones stem from social media for example, others simply have a large referral pot, making it more difficult to decipher specific channel success.

What is email traffic?

Most email campaigns that your marketing teams send out will contain at least one link back to your website, allowing you to use the data from your web analytics tool to further understand your email marketing success. Whilst many web analytics tools can track this source (even some email platforms can track the clicks on links to your site), some go a step further and provide their users with PURLs (personalized URLs). This means each email sent contain a URL personalized to each recipient, so when they click to access your website, the web analytics tool can identify the PURL and then cross reference it to the email send list, thus identifying the exact person on your website – very exciting! Find out more on PURLs with Lead Forensics…

What is social traffic?

As expected, social traffic has come in from your social media platforms. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram- any traffic coming to your website from social media counts under this traffic source. Not every web analytics tool can track social media fuelled visits, putting them under “referrals”, but those that can, offer businesses the additional ability to understand their social media success. As social media draws such a wide audience, it’s exciting to see the impact a positive social media presence can have on your website traffic.

What is display traffic?

A more advanced traffic source, display traffic has accessed your website specifically through a display (image) based advert, be it a banner, button or similar. Fewer web analytics tools can measure this source, again usually placing it under “referrals”, but those that can measure this traffic gain invaluable insight into the traction gained by paid display adverts, so they can better understand the overall return on investment.

Other campaigns

This source covers traffic stemming from any other marketing campaigns you may have embedded a URL in. Though vague in definition, understanding the traffic coming from other marketing campaigns can offer you interesting insight into how your marketing ventures drum up product interest.

Glossary of web analytics terms


A/B testing: Testing two versions of the same webpage/page copy/call-to-action (version A and version B) changing one element (such as color, text or positioning), to determine the most successful in achieving desired goals. The more successful version is kept, and the unsuccessful version deleted or archived.

Advert: A message or feature directing internet users to your website.

Alexa rank: A rank of how successful your website is relative to all other website over the past three months. This is owned by Amazon and updated daily, however it isn’t very accurate.

Analytics: The process of gathering and analyzing data to discover trends, patterns and links.

Anchor text: The visible text on a webpage that a user can click on to visit another website.

App analytics: Analytics specific to your business application for mobile/tablet, using data generated from interactions with this app.

Audience identification analytics: Analytics fuelled by data specifically pertaining to information about your audience, such as location, industry and business.


Backlink: An external link leading to your website or your webpage. The SEO success of this link is driven by the quality of the external website and their relevance to the linked site.

Banner: Similar to Adverts, banners are clickable, rectangular feature or images that link users to a specific webpage on your website. Banners can be static or animated.

Basic analysis: The surface level numbers needed to get an overarching picture of website performance, such as “overall traffic” and “popular pages”.

Benchmark: A measure of comparison, where businesses put their results again industry best practice results.

Bounce rate: The number of visitors exiting the site after visiting just one page, and performing no tracked actions on the web page.

Broken link: A link no longer sending visitors to the appropriate page. These links can heavily affect SEO success and cause a decrease in conversions.

Browser: The application used to access the internet. Most web analytics tools can identify the browsers used by visitors.


Call-to-action (CTA): Encouraging the visitor to perform an action using a visually pleasing, clear instruction. This can be for conversion, content downloads, webinar sign-up and more! CTAs should stand out, be exciting and elicit a feeling of urgency in the potential buyer.

Campaign: A marketing venture (through email, PPC, content and more) aiming to increase brand awareness and encourage conversion. Campaigns also increase website traffic as people search for further information.

Click-through rate (CTR): The number of times a link is clicked by a visitor. This is usually applied to paid and email campaigns, measuring how many recipients clicked onto the website/landing page.

Competitive intelligence: Gathering and analyzing information about competitors to make strategic decisions and propel your business advantage in the marketplace. Some web analytics tools, like Lead Forensics can alert you when a competitor visits your website, so you can track their behaviours and understand their motives.

Content download: A popular goal for business websites (along with conversion), encouraging visitors to download content, often in exchange for contact details.

Conversion: The act of a website visitor performing an action that has value to your business, such as tracked phone calls, downloads or completed contact forms.

Cookies: A text-based file placed on a visitor’s device whilst on your website. This boosts advanced website analytics and allows businesses to see returning visitors.

Crawler: A program that reads through website pages to assess their appropriateness for specific search engine entries. A crawler error occurs when the program is unable to read a page.


Dashboard: The presentation of easy-to-read data, offering a performance overview within an analytics or management tool. Some tools offer customized dashboards, so users can access their most important results first.

Data: Relevant variables that fuel understanding. Often (but not always) in numerical form, data populates reports and is used to conduct analysis and inform decisions.

Data visualization: A visual communication of data, making it easier to read and understand, such as a graph, chart or table.

Dead end page: Webpages with no links, forcing the user to press the “back” button to continue their site navigation. These pages can often cause visitors to leave and are discouraged.

Direct traffic: Traffic that visited your website with no referrer data. This could be visitors who found your website without using any specific channels; they entered your URL directly into their browser or used a bookmark/favourite button to access your site.

Duplicate content: Content that is repeated across the site. This could be due to blog posts being posted on multiple URLs or the same introduction used on hundreds of articles. Too many instances of duplicate content may be detrimental to a website’s performance in search results.


E-commerce: The trading of goods and services via the internet, often in the form of purchasing through a business website.

E-mail traffic: Website traffic brought to the site via a link found in an email, usually from a specific marketing campaign.

Entry page: The first page a visitor accesses when landing on the website.

Event: Any action taken by a website user is classed as an “event”. For example, a hyperlink is clicked or the input in a search field changes.

Exit page: The final page a visitor accesses before leaving your website or closing their browser.


First party cookie: Cookies associated with the domain the visitor is currently viewing.

Form fills: When a website visitor fills in a form featured on your site, usually a contact form, or form to download gated content. This often leads to website visitor conversion.


Geo-location: Using an IP address to identify the location of the visitor. This feature is offered by a selection of advanced web analytics tools, such as Lead Forensics.

Goal: What you want to achieve with your business website, for example visitor conversions or content downloads. You need these goals clearly outlined for maximum web analytics benefit.


Heatmap: A visual representation of user clicks across a webpage, the more clicks on a specific area (usually button or images), the more intense the colour. This helps businesses easily understand how users interact with their website.

Hit: A recognition of server access (when a visitor lands on/loads your website).

Hit counter: A basic counter of how many hits your website receives. Many web analytics tools include a hit counter as part of their data analysis.

HTML: Abbreviation of “hypertext mark-up language”, this is the data format used to display webpages.


Immediate exit pages: This metric measures the pages from which visitors exit without having moved to any other page or section. For businesses measuring bounce rates, this metric offers insight into which pages audiences find underwhelming.

Impression: Easy to confuse with other metrics, an impression refers to every instance a specific advert (or similar) appears on someone’s screen. For example, if a PPC advert has 100 impressions and 10 hits/clicks, you have a 10% click-through rate.


JavaScript: A programming language to fuel many web analytics tools, allowing users to gather insightful visitor information.


Keyword: A digital marketing term describing a word (or set of words) prospects are forecast to use when searching for a specific website. Properly managing keywords allows for improved SEO, so they should be carefully selected and appropriately used on the necessary webpages.

KPI / Key performance indicator: A value used to measure success based on performance. When investing in web analytics tools, it’s important to ensure KPIs are set for your team to use the tool for maximum effect and to gain ROI.


Landing page: A webpage specifically designed to start the visitor journey when responding to a marketing campaign (such as PPC or email). This page aims to convert visitors instantly, though can also spark brand interest and a longer website journey.

Lead: An individual/business who is engaged enough with your brand to be considered a possible client. Leads are often generated through initial marketing conversion or early outbound sales success.

Link: A string of HTML that when activated, takes the user to another webpage. Links are often embedded in webpages to increase navigation ease and prolong visitor engagement.

Load time: The time taken for a webpage to load. Modern audiences expect this to be quick, and conversion success can decrease by 7% for every second load time is increased.

Log-based data collection: This is the process of gathering and analyzing real-time data from servers and devices. The process is often used to identify security breaches but also offered the foundations for early web analytics tools.

Long tail keywords: These are keywords containing 4 words or more. These are popular, as keywords are very competitive with many businesses using single words like “marketing”- long-tail keywords help businesses achieve higher rankings and offer better quality visitors with more specific searches.


Meta description: The short description presented under the main headline link on search engine results. Meta-descriptions entice searchers to interact with business websites.

Metrics: Numerically fueled values offering objective and reliable results for analysis. Most website analysis remains founded upon metrics due to their definitive nature, ensuring decisions are influenced by high-quality data.

Multi-channel: Referring specifically to the use of multiple marketing channels. For example, an individual receives an email from a recent campaign. Then uses that email to access your website, causing them to convert – this is a multi-channel approach to conversion.


Navigation: The term used to describe movement across a website, from page to page. The easier website navigation is, the better engagement and conversion results.

New visitor: A visitor who hasn’t accessed your website before. More advanced web analytics cools can distinguish between returning visitors and new visitors, helping businesses better understand their website success.


Organic traffic: The numbers of visitors landing on a website naturally through search engine results and not through any paid source or referrals.


Pageviews: Either the number of pages accessed by one specific visitor, or the number of times a specific page has been viewed, for example your homepage or contact us page.

Pageviews per visit: The number of pages accessed by a single visitor on one specific visit. Understanding your average pageviews per visit allows businesses to know how often people engage with their content.

Platform: Systems or software specifically developed to benefit marketers. For example, Google AdWords offers a platform enabling PPC on Google based SERPs.

Plug-in: A small computer program that when added to a larger program, enables it to access new features or improves overall performance.

PPC/Pay-per-click: Search engine advertising, where people bid on different keywords in order to place an advert in highly ranked spots on SERPs. This advertising charges per click each advert receives (hence its name), so can get very expensive if poorly executed.

PURL: Personalized URL, sent to a specific individual, so when activated it can be tracked back to them. These URLs are often used in email campaigns, allowing advanced web analytics tools to identify website visitors to the individual.


Reachability: The measure of how easily visitors and search engine crawlers can access specific information on a website. A site with good reachability means it’s easy for users to find the precise information they need.

Real-time: Term referring to gaining results in line with live website visits. The most advanced analytics tools can provide results in real-time, helping businesses understand campaign impact and maximizing conversions.

Redirect: When a URL points to a new webpage instead of the page the URL originally pointed to. Pages are often redirected to another during site migrations or when multiple pieces of content are amalgamated into one article.

Referral traffic: Traffic referred to a website from another website. Some advanced tools can decipher between referrals, helping businesses understand where their web traffic comes from.

Returning visitor: Visitors who have accessed your website before and come back for further information.

ROI/ Return on investment: When money is invested in a new tool, solution or campaign, this is the ultimate measure of its success – has the investment been returned in business revenue.


SAAS: Stands for “software as a service”. SAAS tools offer businesses software that provides a fully-fledged solution as part of a subscription package, usually with software hosted in the cloud.

Search Engine: A web page used to find resources that relate to specific words or phrases. Advanced crawlers search through pages and show the searcher those they deem most relevant to their needs based on keywords searched.

SEO/Search engine optimization: The process of optimizing a website for search engines. This can be through managing off-site signals, improving on-site content or resolving technical issues with the site. Better performing SEO means a page appears higher on the SERP, grabbing the attention of more people, driving more website traffic to conversion.

SERP: “Search engine results page”; after a search is conducted, this is the page showing the searcher the results deemed best fit to their needs.

Server/Sever errors: Servers offer content to the world wide web and can be in both software and hardware form. Every website is hosted on a server, allowing it to share its message with the world. A server error occurs when a webpage is unable to be displayed to the public due to a technical flaw within the page’s content. Server errors also stop search engines properly finding your website, hindering SEO.

Session: A single visitor’s browsing of a website during a given time period. One session can include multiple page views and re-visits, ending after 30 minutes of inactivity.

Single page visits: Sessions where visitors only access a single page. This can be both a positive and negative reading, depending on the page in question. (See more on Immediate exit pages).

Site audit: The process of reviewing a website, evaluating and accessing its performance across a variety of criteria including SEO, content for conversion, competitor and security.

Social analysis: The act of measuring and analyzing social media activity and success, looking into how this feeds into website activity.

Social traffic: Traffic stemming from social media campaigns and social link shares.

Source: A source details how a website visitor accessed the site in question. Sources can include social, referral, direct, organic and more.

Stickiness: A measure of a websites success in retaining visitor engagement, often accumulated with the numbers of pages visited per session and site duration. The longer a website encourages engagement, the more “sticky” it’s deemed to be. This stickiness is often achieved through unique website elements and insightful content/assets.


Tags: Tags are small pieces of code that allow specific metrics on webpages to be measured. These tags are inserted into a page’s source code and allow the analytics tool in question to log specific server activity and connections.

Third-party cookie: A cookie associated with a domain, differing from the domain on which it sits. These are often cookies benefiting website additions/specific tools (such as web analytics software).

Tracking pixels: A small 1 x 1 pixel hidden on a web page or email that when activated, allows the host to gather and analyze user data.

Traffic: The term coined to reference internet users visiting a website – or overall visitors.


Unique visits: The count of visitors who enter a site multiple times during a given period (usually 30 mins), but is counted only once, as a single visit, by a web analytics tool.

Uptime: A measurement of how long a site is useable and viewable i.e. how long the site is “up”.

URL: “Uniform resource locator”. A character string of code containing the location of a specific resource and how it can be accessed.

User experience (UX): The term used to describe the overall experience a website offers the user. A website with good UX offers users a beneficial and positive experience, encouraging them to convert or return.

User navigation (UN): The term used to describe the way users navigate a website. A website with good UN offers users easy access to the pages they need, across all devices. Good UN for desktop, doesn’t always translate to mobile/tablet.


Visit duration: The amount of time a visitor spends on a specific website, including all page visits. This is recorded from the moment they arrive on the server, to the moment they click onto another server (a new domain) or they close their window.

Visitor: Someone accessing a website is a website visitor.

Visitor behaviour: How a visitor behaves whilst on a website, including information surrounding the pages they view, the buttons/images they interact with and the actions they end up taking (converting or exiting).

Visitor identification: The ability to identify anonymous website visitors, offered by advanced web analytics tools such as Lead Forensics. This is usually done through reverse IP tracking, cookies and privately-owned databases of business information.

Visitor recording: An advanced web analytics feature recording specific website visits, allowing users to see how visitors navigate and interact with a site.

Visits: A visit is the journey taken by a specific individual whilst on a website. This includes how they arrived on the site, the pages they viewed and how they left.


Website: A set of webpages housed under a single domain. These pages all relate to each other and create a public source of content available on the world wide web.

Thank you

Thank you for reading our latest best practice guide on our Marketing Blog – Web Analytics: Everything you need to know.  We publish fresh content every week, please subscribe for alerts, or come back again for more.

In the meantime, you may be interested to read Website visitor tracking; strategies and tools.

And, if you are interested in knowing who is visiting your website, you can request a demonstration of Lead Forensics here.

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