Sunday, January 3, 2010

Web Analytics Best Practices

The other day I was reading "Web Analytics An Hour A Day" by Avinash Kaushik and found some of the web analytics best practices outlined by him. In this post I have put down a few of these best practices : 

1. Page Tagging
        Make sure that you have tagged all the pages on your  website. This can be done manually or with many tools available. The best way to implement tags is when you have a template based system of publishing pages. In this case the web analytics code can be placed in the global footer and you can be rest assured that the code is present in all your pages.


   2. Tag Placement
       It is very important that you place the JavaScript tag at the end of your page (preferably just before the tag). Placing the tag near the header can cause problems during page loads in case the analytics server is down for some reason. The tags should be placed in such a way that it should not affect the functionality that page was intended to have.

   3. Page Identification
        Pages are becoming dynamic and it is very rare to find websites that serve static content . In most of the websites with dynamic pages, it is important to have some form of identifier that will help in uniquely identifying the pages. Generally some query string parameters can be used as unique identifier for pages in case the same .jsp page dynamically creates different pages based on user input.

   4. Cookies
         Cookies primarily help in identifying users of your website and also collect non- PII information of these users. Some browsers put restrictions on the number of cookies that can be set by a domain. So in some cases certain functionalities can be combined into the same cookie to take care of this limitation. Also using a different sub domain to set the cookie can be an useful get around.

   5. Links
     There can be multiple links on a page that lead to the same Target page. In such cases it becomes important to uniquely identify each of these links to understand which links users find helpful in navigating your website. This can be done by simply assigning  some reference makers to these links . When coming up with new links for a page, it becomes very important that the IT team and the web analysts collaborate to come up with a scheme that makes data collection easier.

   6. Redirects
      Redirects can affect the way your web analytics tool collect data. Redirects were initially used to collect referring page data  and collect data on internal pages which cannot be tagged due to privacy issues. However most analytics tools now a days have exit tracking which work without redirects.

   7. Tagging rich media applications
                Rich media applications signify a quantum shift in the way users now interact with the internet. However the main problem with tracking rich media applications is that they cannot be tracked as page views like simple pages. However most analytics vendors provide solutions to track Rich Media application usage on your website.

   8. Data Validation
          It is important to validate the data being collected in the various variable of the web analytics solution before and after releasing any new pages into productions. There are many debuggers and packet monitors  available that help in doing this.

1 comment:

  1. I like to read about web analytics and always search for some good tips so that I can use them to improve my website. In this article you have given some very impressive web analytics practices. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.
    web analytics company

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