Users of web visitor analytical data from applications such as Google Analytics and other programs use them to understand more about their visitors. They use the information to better design their website layout and content. But Google Analytics also provides other pieces of interesting information.
Using some of the statistics (over the last 6 months) from the visitors of this blog (generally people interested in technology), I am going to formulate some questions and answer them. Here you go:
Question: What are most people interested in when they search?
Trouble-shooting. Of the top 25 keywords, 15 related to “problems”, “shutdowns” and other technical issues (Yahoo! Mail, Windows Vista, Office 2007). People come to search to find solutions to problems they are facing and usually these are pressing, immediate issues. Then come the news and people related searches (Dale Carnegie, Barack Obama, Jan Grzebski, etc.). Finally, there are people who are interested in various technical and management issues.
Question: How do people find out about and visit web sites?
No marks for guessing the top answer: Google. But the next common is direct visits, which means people typing in a URL or using a bookmark to return to the site. The most-likely pages to be bookmarked are the home page and pages that have more content – it is likely that people cannot read them immediately and therefore bookmark to visit them at a more convenient time. Trouble-shooting pages that have the potential of being useful in the near future are also prone to bookmarking.
Blog sites are likely to get many visitors through various uses of their feeds. For example, your feed (if it has the appropriate license) may be syndicated by another blog or it may be shared through a blog reading application like Google Reader. Blog search engines, directories and hosting sites also send traffic.
Question: Is there a difference in the quality of traffic sent by various sources?
I used to think so when I had less data in the form of visitors. Nowadays, I find that there is no difference from the major source of traffic in terms of order of magnitude. The only poor quality visitors are referrals from web sites that have a different subject matter. For example, posting a comment on a comic strip website may bring some visitors, but they are not going to wait around to read a technology blog.
Google visitors comes right in the middle in most visitor properties. This is not surprising since it accounts for the majority of the hits and influences the statistical averages. Webmasters would be well served to spend more time ensuring that their site appears favorably in Google search results, since the aggregate benefit is much greater than other sources of traffic.
Question: What city has the most people interested in technology?
According to my data, these are the cities with the most people interested in technology (in order of priority): London, San Francisco, New York, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Sydney, Los Angeles and Singapore. It was surprising to me that London beat out San Francisco, but then I remembered the many recent trips my software friends in India have been taking to England. There is a lot happening there.
If you want country data, it reads: United States, India, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Singapore, Germany and Philippines. And as far as continents go, the Americas (primarily North America) lead the way, followed by Asia, Europe, Oceania and Africa.
Question: What browser should I design for?
Ah, that age-old question. Many years ago, I had been asked to design different versions of corporate web sites to cater for Netscape Navigator versions, Internet Explorer, text browsers (Lynx), WAP, etc. Now, the main browsers are definitely Internet Explorer and Firefox, but Safari and Opera also command a significant number of visitors, even if the percentage of visitors may be lower.
All 4 browsers are now available for Windows, so theoretically you should be able to test for all users without switching to a Mac. Designing for mobile devices is a different ball game, though Apple may be changing things there with a regular browser on the iPhone. A good simulation of what your site looks like on a mobile device is available at Mowser. (thanks to Manoj for that last link)