All About Analytics for Town Websites

One question that comes in regularly from municipal customers is the request to add what’s known as a ‘hit counter’ to their website.

A hit counter is a small, online counter that sits on a section of the web page, and counts how many visitors arrive on the page.

But while this small device can be vaguely interesting, it’s not something that you really want on your website. After all, having a number displayed on the site really does nothing for anyone. It doesn’t convey any valuable information to your visitors, and it doesn’t give you a reference point either, since you have no way of knowing where those visitors are coming from, or even how long they are staying on the page.

Plus, it must be said: odometer-style hit counters on the homepage look dated, and tacky.

Instead of hit counters, we use Google Analytics; an analytics program that tracks not only hits, but also provides you with valuable information about your visitors. With analytics software, you can see which search terms were used to discover the page, how long visitors spend on each page, and more. Best of all, Google Analytics is installed back-end, which means that it’s behind the scenes where you can see it, not on the front of the page distracting visitors.

If you’re wondering what Google Analytics can do for your website, take a look at some of the things that you can track with this program.

  • Number of Visitors: Google Analytics can show you how many visitors your web pages are receiving, and it can also tell you your unique visitor count. This tells you if those hits are from a number of different people, or from a handful who are clicking through your site.
  • Where the Visitors Come From: Find out where your traffic’s coming from. It’s interesting to see visitors coming from out of state if your town is known to have a percentage of the population who own a second property or even hunting land. By knowing what out-of-town visitors are looking for, you can help make their visit, to both your website and town, better.
  • Keywords That Were Used to Find the Page: Analytics can show which keywords were used to find the page. It could be something controversial like “mining” or “wind farms” –which will show you which issues matter to your visitors. Knowing which keywords bring visitors to your website can also give you an idea about which topics you may want to include more information on, and other changes that you may want to make to make your site even more user-friendly.
  • Which Pages Are the Most Visited: Analytics can also show you which pages are the most visited. Determining the popularity of each of your pages can help you to gain a better understanding of your visitors. If a certain page seems to be more popular than others, it might be a good idea to figure out why; and determine if it’s the content, a keyword, or something else. This will give you a better understanding of what your viewers are looking for when they come to your site.

Having Google Analytics can help you piece together the puzzle of what goes on when you aren’t home, so to speak. A far cry from the simple hit counter, analytics can provide you with valuable information on our visitors that you can use to make changes to your website –enabling you to better serve your visitors.

At Town Web, we design websites for towns and cities that are built with the needs of municipalities in mind. Get in touch today with any questions you have regarding a website for your town. We would be happy to help!

Image: Blue Fountain Media

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