By Peyman Aleagha
RISMEDIA, May 2, 2009-As real estate professionals who want to make a success of our Internet presence, we should know some of the terminology. But, we should also know how to concentrate our time and efforts on what’s important when it comes to tracking visits to, and activity on, our websites. These two goals go hand-in-hand when it comes to sorting out website traffic statistics. Let’s look at some terms and see how we want to use these site traffic statistics.
Hits - This one has been around since the beginning, and you’ll still hear a great many people say things like “How do I get more hits on my website?” The truth is, you really shouldn’t look at hit count for any meaningful measure of what’s happening on your site.
A “hit” is a file sent to a browser by a Web server. If you have text and 10 images on a page, the stats will record 11 hits for every time that page loads in a browser. That’s because each image is a hit. Twenty images, 21 hits. As you can see, this doesn’t tell us anything valuable at all. So, hearing someone bragging about 20,000 hits a day doesn’t tell you how many visitors were there, or how many pages they viewed, only files downloaded.
Visits - Each time a user comes into a site, it is recorded as a visit. One user may visit a site several times in one day. In real estate, they may be coming in at different times of the day to search for listings. Obviously, the more visits your site gets, the more likely you are to generate business from it.
Visitors - There are a great many statistics measurement software and online solutions out there. But, they all definitely measure visitors, as this is a very important metric for your future success. Properly recorded, you’ll only show one visitor count if the same visitor enters the site several times in a single day. The site will attempt to track the IP address of the visitor, or set a cookie on their hard drive to uniquely identify that visitor and not count them twice in a day. Their visits will get counted, however. So, one visitor stat may yield multiple visit counts.
Your goal is to use SEO (Search Engine Optimization), various forms of marketing, and maybe some PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing to continue to increase your visitors over time. If you’re not growing the visitor count, you’re not going to generate more business from your website or blog.
Page Views - This is another very important measurement of how effective your site is, and how useful it is to your visitors. It counts the number of pages viewed, and most will give you an average page views/visit in their statistics. This tells you if your site visitors are finding their way around, as well as if they are locating other information from your navigation that they want to view. Another word for this is “stickiness.” Are they sticking around? You want lots of page views, and definitely a reasonable average per visit, indicating they are moving around in the site.
Another way some statistical tools report this is as “depth of visit.” How deep into the site did the visitor go? You can see a graph of the number of visitors that only viewed one page, and another with those who viewed 20 or more pages, as an example. Watching these statistics, and trying to improve on them, means that you want to create content that visitors want, and give them easy ways to locate it and navigate to it.
One thing we need to remember as real estate sites with IDX searches is that many repeat visitors will be coming back over and over directly to the search page. They bookmark it, search for a while, and leave without moving around elsewhere in the site. So, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if our average page views aren’t growing like we want, but our time on site is getting longer.
Length of Visit - The statistics tool should also give you data as to how long visitors are staying on your site. Of course, the longer the better, as that means they’re finding what they want. As mentioned above, many of your repeat visitors may only come to the site to search for listings. They have bookmarked the IDX search page, and they never leave it on most visits. That’s OK. You’ll see that the time on site is excellent, meaning they like your search interface.
You should always be tracking your site’s performance with these statistics, no matter which analytical tool or software you choose. The goal is to grow the number of visitors, while increasing the time they stay and the number of pages they view. That’s how you build a loyal audience who eventually become leads and commissions.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design (http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX (http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions.
For more information, visit RealtySoft.com.