Web Analytics: Dos and Don’ts


Web analytics is a powerful tool for understanding how people interact with your website. By tracking and analysing your website traffic, you can gain insights into your audience, content and marketing which can help you optimise for better results. 

However, web analytics is only as useful as the data it collects, and the way you interpret and act on that data. How often have we heard people say, “I just did what the numbers said, so it isn’t my fault”? In all such cases that person has either collected the wrong numbers, interpreted the right ones wrongly or used data to run away from making decisions rather than inform decisions.

Here are some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind when using web analytics. They are supposed to be your friend!


  1. Set clear goals and KPIs Before you set up web analytics you need to know what you are trying to achieve with your website. Set specific, measurable goals which align with your business objectives at that time, such as increasing leads, sales or engagement. 

Define the obvious key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to track progress towards those goals, such as conversion rate, bounce rate or time on site. Having clear goals and KPIs will help you focus your analysis and make actionable decisions.

  1. Track the right metrics There are countless metrics you can track in web analytics, but not all of them will be relevant. Focus on tracking the metrics which directly impact your bottom line, such as revenue, leads and conversions. 

Also track engagement metrics like pages per session, average session duration and bounce rate to understand how people are interacting with your content. Avoid vanity metrics like total page views or number of social media followers, as these don’t necessarily translate into business results.

  1. Use multiple sources of data Web analytics tools like Google Analytics are great for tracking website traffic and behaviour but don’t give you the full picture. You need to supplement their data with data from other sources, such as your CRM, marketing automation platform and customer feedback surveys. 

This will give you a more holistic view of your customer journey and help you identify opportunities for improvement across all touchpoints. It will also help you integrate your data sources so they all produce the same picture – which they always do, but you can’t see it without the proper perspective on data integration.

  1. Segment your data Crude averages can be misleading. A high overall conversion rate may mask the fact that certain segments of your traffic are performing poorly. 

Segment your data by key dimensions like traffic source, device type, location and customer type to uncover insights and opportunities. For example, you may find that mobile traffic has a much lower conversion rate than desktop traffic, indicating a need to optimise your mobile experience.

  1. Set up goals and events Goals and events are specific actions you want visitors to take on your website, such as filling out a form, making a purchase or watching a video. Set up tracking for these actions in your web analytics tool so you can see how well your site is converting and which pages or sources are driving the most conversions. 

This will help you focus your optimisation efforts on the areas which have the biggest impact on your bottom line. It will also provide actionable insight into why these actions are being taken, and enable you to quantify that for future application.

  1. Use annotations Annotations are notes you can add to your web analytics timeline to mark important events or changes to your website, such as a new product launch, a site redesign or a marketing campaign. As all of these actions are designed to produce specific results, it is obviously important to compare the before and after of each one.

Using annotations can help you understand how each of these events impact your traffic and performance and provide context for any spikes or drops in your metrics. They also help you keep track of your optimisation efforts over time.

  1. Create custom reports and dashboards The default reports in web analytics tools may not always give you the insights you need. When you first set up web analytics you will need to create custom reports and dashboards tailored to your specific goals and KPIs. 

These will allow you to quickly and easily access the data which matters most to you without having to dig through irrelevant metrics. They should be shared directly with your team and stakeholders so that everyone uses the same data for the same overall purpose.

  1. Test and experiment Web analytics is about using data to drive continuous improvement. Use your insights to form hypotheses about how you can improve your website performance, and then test those hypotheses through experimentation. 

Use A/B testing tools to compare different versions of your pages and see which one performs better. Use your web analytics data to measure the results of your experiments and iterate based on what you learn.


  1. Rely on a single metric No one metric can give you a complete picture of your website performance. Focusing too much on a metric you happen to like, such as bounce rate or time on site, can lead you to make decisions which actually harm your business. 

For example, a low bounce rate may seem a good thing, but if visitors are staying on your site without converting it may indicate a problem with your content or user experience. Always look at multiple metrics in context to get a balanced view.

  1. Ignore data quality The insights you get from web analytics are only as good as the data you collect. Make sure your web analytics tracking code is properly installed and configured on all pages of your site. 

Check regularly for data discrepancies or anomalies which may indicate tracking issues, as different sources record the same event in different ways and their protocols are not always clear. Filter out spam traffic, mobile fraud attempts and internal traffic from your own company to ensure your data is accurate and reliable. 

  1. Overreact to short-term fluctuations Web traffic and performance can be highly variable from day to day or week to week. Don’t panic or make drastic changes based on short-term fluctuations in your metrics. 

Look at your data over a longer time period, based on historic reported performance, to identify trends and patterns. Use your annotations to provide context for any unusual spikes or drops. 

  1. Neglect qualitative data Web analytics is great for tracking quantitative metrics like traffic and conversions, but it doesn’t tell you why people are behaving the way they are. Don’t neglect qualitative data like customer feedback, user testing and heatmaps to provide deeper insights into the user experience. 

Qualitative data gives you a better picture of the emotional content of user actions, and thus what is driving them. This is why using it gives a more complete picture of how people are interacting with your site.

  1. Set it and forget it Web analytics is not a one-time setup – it requires ongoing monitoring, analysis and optimisation. So don’t just set up your tracking and then forget about it – regularly review your data, look for opportunities for improvement and take action based on your insights. 

As your business and website evolve, your tracking and reporting needs may change. Continuously reassess your goals, metrics and consequent reports to ensure they are still relevant and actionable.

  1. Keep insights to yourself Web analytics is a team sport. Don’t keep your insights and recommendations within your own department or role, but share them with other teams and stakeholders who can use them to inform their own work, such as marketing, product and customer service. 

Collaborate with others to turn your insights into action and drive real business impact. The more people who are using approved and common sourced data to make decisions, the more successful your organisation will be.

By following these dos and don’ts you can obtain optimum value from your web analytics and use data to drive continuous improvement in your online performance. The ultimate goal is to use your insights to create a better user experience, drive more conversions and grow your business.  

Web analytics is not an end in itself – it’s a means to an end. With the right approach and mindset, web analytics can be a powerful tool for achieving your goals and staying ahead of the competition.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS