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Firespring Analytics - website statistics 101

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Here's a vocabulary guide and some explanations about where the Firespring Analytics data comes from. 

How a webpage is served: When you click a button on a webpage, your computer sends a request to the host server for that webpage. That request includes several pieces of information about you as the visitor, including the IP address of your computer, also known as the host. Also, the operating system (Mac OS X, Windows 10, etc), the browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome), screen resolution and hardware (iPhone, Android, iPad) along with the page requested. When you look at a webpage, your browser also sends the referrer.

Referrers: Firespring Analytics determines what searches and other pages lead visitors to your website with referrer data. The referrer indicates what page (if any) referred you to the current page. Ex: If you search for something on Google, and click on one of the results, your browser will use the URL of the search page as the referrer. Any time you click a link on a webpage, your browser sends the referrer data to the next page you end up on, even if it's on the same website. Firespring Analytics ignores the "internal" referrers and provides you with the more valuable external data.

Hits vs Pages:The transfer of a data file is known as a hit on the web server. However, one page that you see in your browser is composed of many files, including images, navigational elements, graphics and other items. High hit counts may look impressive, but are not the most useful information. A company that has twelve photos on their front page will get more hits (one for each photo) than a company with one photo even if the same number of visitors comes to the respective sites. A pageview is each time a visitor views a page on your website, and is more useful way to measure your website traffic.

Visitors: The server records each computer address and the time interval between hits to determine a single website visitor. Each host computer address is treated as a unique visitor. A customer that visits your site in the morning and then later on in the day on the same computer, or is inactive for 30 minutes before clicking again, will be recorded as two separate visits, but not two unique visitors. This can give you information about the impact your site is having on your customers.

We capture this information and display it all for you in an easy to view layout. Find your Firespring Analytics in your Springboard > Analytics & Reports > Site Analytics.

Firespring analytics dashboard snippet

Here's a breakdown of the information that's displayed on your Firespring Analytics dashboard.

The Basics: 

Columns of +/- percentages throughout the screens represent the increase or decrease of a particular stat compared to the last time period (day, week, month, etc) you're viewing. Pro Tip: Update the date range from the default Today to view 28 days for example. This will give you more data to look at and a greater sense of your traffic trends.

  • Visitors/Visit: When someone visits your website, your visitor count is increased by one and a new visit/session is started. All actions taken beyond the first one are attached to that visitor session. Sessions "expire" after 30 minutes of inactivity. If the visitor leaves and comes back again later or become active after 30 minutes of inactivity, your visitor count for the day will increase again.
  • Uniques: Your unique visitor count is increased only when a visitor comes to your site for the first time that day. If they visit your site five times in one day, your normal visitors count will increase by 5, and your uniques will increase by 1. 
  • Actions: Pageviews, file downloads, outgoing links and other types of clicks are tracked to give you a thorough picture of visitor activity.
  • Total Time: Represents how much cumulative time was spent on your website across all visitors for the time period you're viewing. 
  • Average time per visit: The average amount of time spent on your website, per visitor.
  • Bounce rate: A visitor "bounces" from your site if they only view one page and then leave, so a lower value is better. This percentage rate is global, for your entire site. If you want to get more specific, you can use filters to narrow down the bounce rate for visitors who arrived at your site via a certain link or search.

Traffic Sources:

This section of the Dashboard gives you a breakdown of how visitors are arriving at your site, determined by referrer data (see Referrers above for more info). There are six categories. If one or more of the categories listed does not appear in the dashboard's Traffic Sources box, that means there is no activity to report for that source during the time period you're viewing.

  • Direct: How many visitors arrived at your site with an empty referrer string. This usually means they typed in your URL by hand (direct) or used a bookmark to get to your page.
  • Links: This shows how many visitors arrived via a link from another website, excluding search engines. Click on a link in the Links box to see details about the visitors who arrived via a link, and their actions. There are five types of links:
    • Incoming: A link on an external website that sent a visitor to your site.
    • Domains: The domains where the incoming links are hosted.
    • Recent: Incoming links that have sent a visitor to your site most recently (date and time are included).
    • Unique: The first time any particular link has sent a visitor to your site (since you've had Firespring Analytics), it will show up here along with the time it occurred.
    • Outgoing: A link on your website that points to another external website.This lets you see how your visitors are leaving your site and where you are sending the most traffic to.
  • Searches: How many visitors arrived via search engine. Use the links in the Searches box to see text and phrases, keywords visitors are using that have taken them to your site. You can use this information to enhance the SEO aspect of your site and capture more search engine traffic.
  • Advertising: How many visitors arrived via advertisements you may be running. This is determined by the domain of the referrer. If it is a major known advertising domain, or the domain matches certain patterns such as "ad," "ads" or "pagead," then the visitor is put in this category.
  • Email: How many visitors arrived via email. Only webmail is supported, because clicking on a link from within a program like Outlook will not send any referrer data to your site.
  • Social media: How many visitors arrived via popular social media sites? Examples: twitter, youtube, facebook, pinterest, reddit, linkedin

Locale:

Click the Locale tab, or the links in the Locale box to see the geographic locations—Countries, Regions, Cities—of your visitors.

  • Hostnames: A visitor's hostname is what their IP address resolves to for a lookup. For example, one of Google's IP addresses is 64.233.167.99. If a visitor with this IP address came to your website, then their hostname would display as "google.com."
  • Organizations: A visitor's organization (and hostname) is determined by looking up their IP address in a third party database. It is not 100% accurate, but close to it. These values represent the company that "owns" that IP address. For example, if someone from Microsoft corporate headquarters visited your site, you would see "Microsoft" as their organization. Of course, many home users can't be identified by anything more accurate than their ISP, which may not be as useful.

Content:

This section of the dashboard shows you at a glance the content that your visitors are looking at on your website.

  • Pages: The pages your customers are viewing, ranked in order of popularity based on views. 
  • Entrance: Sometimes called a landing page, this is the page a new visitor session starts on. If a visitor comes to your site directly, that will typically be your front page, but visitors coming to your site via searches or other external links will probably be "landing" on other pages initially. The entrance pages section shows which pages are the most popular "first pages" that people see.
  • Exit: Likewise, an exit page is the "last" page that a user sees before leaving your website.
  • Downloads: Clicks on links that point to a file on your website. When a visitor clicks a download, that action will show up in the details of their visit and the value for downloads of that file will be increased by one.

Spy:

The Spy tab to the right of the Home link, displays the same data as on the dashboard, except that everything is live! You'll see page views, downloads, outgoing links and clicks stream down the spy page as they are happening on your website. Click on the link to see more information about an individual visit.