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When numbers lie: The hidden danger of growing web site traffic

by Claudie Clot, CEO of advancis.com

Identifying the problem - Taking a closer look at your web site statistics reports

How do you know if you are experiencing this problem? It's quite easy. You simply need to compare two key web site traffic statistics to determine whether your site is at risk.

The trick is to measure the number of user sessions that initiated at the top entry page (usually the home page). Then, you need to subtract the number of user sessions which included only that page. The larger the resulting number, the more serious the problem.

To illustrate the problem, let's look at a real life example. Company A develops and markets advanced communications systems to a variety of small vertical markets including governmental agencies, universities, and airports. A recent web site statistics report shows the following picture:


1. Top entry pages:
Number 1 - Home page - 582 user sessions
2. Top single access pages:
  Number 1: Home page - 228 user sessions 


Based on these data, we can see that 582 user sessions have originated at the Home page. And 228 sessions have included only the Home page. Hence, during 354 sessions, visitors left the site as soon as they reached the Home page. That's more than 39% of the traffic that entered through the front door.


Identifying the problem
Understanding why visitors leave your site upon reaching it
Useful tools

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