Here are three essential segments to analyze from your traffic statistics reports.

If you've invested any time in the website for your church, company or organization, you'll realize that gauging your audience's interaction with the site is critical information. However, especially if you don't have an end product that you're selling, audience participation and interest in what you're offering can be somewhat less tangible.

An essential signifier of your "return on investment" is often the traffic to your website. We highly recommend Google Analytics as an in-depth statistics program that can offer valuable information about how people are viewing your website, where they are spending the most time, and even what pages might not be working as you'd like them to. Google does a great job at presenting some of this information visibly, via charts and images. However, the sheer amount of information available, and the terminology used, can be confusing or overwhelming.

Here are three essential pieces of information for you to look for when you're scouring through the logs.

1. Audience
The number next to visits indicates how many times someone has spent any time on your site; this is referred to as "traffic." Unique visitors is the truest measure of how many individuals have visited your site. Often, the visits number will be higher than unique visitors. This just means that some people have visited your site more than once. From the overview screen, you can drill down into new visits (first time to your site), visit duration (how much time was spent on your site), bounce rates (visitors who left after viewing only one page), and more. The default date range covers the past 30 days. Be sure to adjust the date range to see your data over time.

1a. Mobile
As you know, more and more visitors are coming to your site using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Analytics lets you compare how much of your traffic is mobile, and which devices most often access your site. I find it especially interesting to compare pages per visit, average visit duration, and bounce rates for the mobile vs. desktop audience.

2. Content
The content overview will tell you which pages on your site are receiving the most traffic. Often, the most visited site is the home page, indicated by a single slash ( / ). Under the content menu, you can drill down into more details like landing pages (the first page people visit), exit pages (the last page viewed during their visit), and even average load times for pages on your site. 

Important note: the "site search" tab under the content menu does not refer to search engine traffic coming to your site, but to a tool that Google offers to allow you to provide search results within your own site.

3. Traffic Sources
How do people get to your site? The three sources of traffic to your site are by search result, referral link or direct traffic. Reports on search traffic will show you the keywords used that resulted in a visit to your website, the pages visited, and the search engines providing the results. Organic search results show sources from normal search engine results. Paid search results are those visits generated by advertising services such as Google AdWords and can be further evaluated under the advertising tab. Referral links show other websites that have a link to your own site. Direct traffic simply means that someone visited your site by clicking on a bookmark or typing the URL directly into their browser.

There is SO much more information available in Analytics, and many ways in which this information can be used. Do you use Google Analytics to analyze your website? Do you have any additional info or tips to share?