You should monitor user statistics for your website so that you know:
- how many people visit your site
- what content your users are interested in
- how effective your online communications for a particular event or campaign were
- how users use your website (eg do they arrive on a certain page and leave the site or do they open other pages?)
- where your users come from (eg through search engines, social media or links from other websites)
- how users are finding your site (eg what keywords do they use to find your site in search engines).
You can use free tools such as Google Analytics to gather and analyse valuable user data. Many web analytics packages allow you to create customised reports that can be emailed to you on a regular basis, eg monthly. You can use these reports to obtain a summary of activity on your website.
Analysing statistics can provide information that will help you improve your website. For example, if particular web pages are popular you can promote them or consider producing similar, related content for your users. If web pages aren't being viewed by many users, you may need to consider whether you could remove those pages from your site. But it's also possible that some pages aren't being widely viewed because your users can't find them on your site. Statistics can therefore help you make improvements to your website's structure and navigation.
You can gain valuable user insights by analysing the keywords that users enter in search engines to reach your website. By identifying popular keywords you can optimise your content so that it includes those keywords. It is also useful to analyse the keywords that users use on your website's search facility. You may also find our search engine optimisation guidance useful.
You may need to talk to web experts at your institution in order to access web analytics tools or to receive reports. If you are setting up a new website you should try to discuss and define your requirements in advance so that you are gathering useful statistics from the start.