How To Determine What Your Site Visitors Are Looking For

You may have signed up for a couple different services to monitor your stats like Google Analytics, CrazyEgg, Woopra, and more. However, what can you get from those stats that will allow you to be able to fill the need for your readers, including first time visitors who are looking for something?

If your visitors cannot find what they are looking for, they are going to leave. If you are not tagging and using keywords that accurately fit your articles, you might need to go back with a critical eye and adjust. Remember that people look for things and type in a few words to search. If your article comes up, hopefully it does relate to what they are searching about.

Whether you look this up every week, couple of weeks, or once a month, you will want to know a couple things when looking at your stats:

  1. How did your visitors enter your site? Did they come from a search engine or were they referred by another blog? Were they referred from your social network handles?
  2. What search terms are coming up about your site? Are they really what you wanted people to look for? If not, as I said, you might need to go through your site and correct the problem.
  3. Where are your visitors leaving your site? Sometimes for self-hosted users, you can use your built in server stats. For example, most cPanel users have access to Webalizer. Some outside sites can also tell you where your visitors are leaving from.

Once you have determined the need of your visitors based on the information you got from your stats, you need to put a plan into motion. If one part of your site is receiving attention, obviously you need to emphasize that. However if there is an article you really wanted people to see, you will also need to build a marketing plan around that.

Two features I really recommend on a site are Yet Another Related Post plugin, Featured Post with Thumbnails… at least for WordPress. I know there are components that are equivalent in Joomla and Drupal, but not the name. They are really handy. While you have a post, you can entice your readers to look at other related articles that might delve into more of the topic they had already come to read.

Another great way is to enhance your 404 page. While you might try Joost de Valk’s Practical Guide to 404 Error Pages: What WordPress is Missing, you can also add material to entice visitors to the most popular places on your site besides giving a suggestion of page links.

Last of all, if you do not have what someone is looking for, but it is relevant to your site, create the content – fill that need. This is very simple and even if you were planning on posting about other things, you can always write those articles, and schedule them to post anytime.

The bottom line is that you want to keep your visitors on your website. By solving your visitors need, they will come back and perhaps look for more goodies.

What methods do you use in determining your visitors needs? How have you fulfilled those needs?


  1. says

    Hi Nile,

    Thanks for this insightful look at analyzing a blog to get more people to read more stuff.

    The webalizer stats are pretty good, if you can interpret them. They show search terms, entry pages, exit pages, and time on site.

    I agree that looking at terms you want to be searched for and then optimizing your site for those terms is a good way to go.

    For beginners choose non competitive terms to start with, and then build up to the big ones! You will be surprised if you keep ranking for long tails that pretty soon your money keywords will turn up in the search engines like magic.

  2. says

    Great article. Like you are demonstrating here. It’s not enough that you have a stats package, you must take some time to try and interpret the data every once in a while. Some of the most important stats to look at are listed in your list 1, 2, 3 above. So someone does not need to be a statistician to make sense of the data if they just focus on trying to answer the three simple questions that you have listed above. For instance, I can look at my stats and see that Facebook and YouTube are my two biggest sites referring visitors to me. I can also see what keywords people type into google to find the link to my site. The answer will sometimes be surprising. I like Google Analytics and StatCounter as my favorite stats packages. You listed a few stats programs above. Which ones do you use or recommend?

    Thanks again for more great, useful material!
    Jupiter Jim

    • says

      Jim, good points. I would also say that looking which articles have the lowest bounce rate are also good indicators of topics that people enjoy reading, even if those articles don’t have the highest amount of ‘hits’.

  3. says

    This is great advice Nile! One of the things I always teach is the importance of delivering “the goods” to your readers. I must admit that I’ve been a TOTAL slacker when it comes to using tags. 2012 is the year of SEO for my blog ; )

    Thanks for another round of great tips, I appreciate it!

    • says

      i agree with you , thats why many bloggers say start a website in which you have passion.

      i was a soccer fan from like 4 years and started a site 1 year back , i knew exactly what the fans are looking for and i started getting 300k visitors a month in under a year 🙂

  4. says

    Hey Nile

    I look at my stats and search terms to ensure people are finding me for the right reasons.

    I know what my message is and what my target is so I use the stats to ensure I am targeting the right market.


  5. says

    well if we can find out what people are looking for then the conversion rates will shoot up …. its really important to find what ur visitors are looking for.. then provide a solution to that..


  6. says

    I go through my stats quite regularly and see where my visitors leave my site. I don’t understand why my visitors often leave from my “contact'” page but never send a message. To me, that seems odd.

  7. says

    After years of maintaining several websites its still pretty hard to determine what exactly my site visitors are looking for. The good thing though is that there are several tools available that provide you with your site data. It will then be up to you to translate that data.

  8. says

    It’s funny that, despite all the tools we have available to give us this information (as you’ve stated), it is all worthless if we do not take the time to understand it and put it to good use.

    A reminder how technology and tools that are designed as shortcuts can in fact have a negative affect in making us lazy and less-proficient in what we do!

  9. says

    I always wonder what is the google analytics for. I mean do know something about it, but I haven’t seen it’s purpose and value until now. Thanks for this, I’ll check out the other tool you recommended.

  10. says

    I only use google analytics and sometimes feedjit to see where my readers are coming from in real time. I am also using YARP the plugin helps me a lot since on its implementation it lowers my bounce rate by almost 10 points.

  11. says

    It’s interesting, this seems like a bit of a chicken or the egg question. You are developing a site for a reason: there’s something you want to provide. So to what degree are you determining what clients you want and to what degree are clients determining what you are offering?

    Don’t get me wrong, we are writing for our clients, but there is also something to be said about Apple’s philosophy that sometimes people don’t know what they want until you offer it. Just an interesting rabbit hole to dive into.

  12. says

    Nile, thanks for the great information. You make some great points about how to use the statistics we are collecting on our blogs. My biggest takeaway is to work on enhancing my 404 page.

  13. says

    This is a great evaluation process and it should be done constantly. Every month or two weeks or whatever time frame you determine you should be evaluating your sites performance, since you’re site dynamics will change with new articles being posted all the time. This way you can change anything that’s not working before it’s too late.

  14. says

    Great advise Nile! Even if there are keywords being searched just once or twice a week, they are worth providing content for. After all, if we have 20 different keywords like that, it means we have 20 to 40 more people each week, finding content they want.

    That may just turn into 3 or 4 extra sales a week.

    Have a very Merry Christmas, Regards from Julieanne

  15. says

    Good point, a lot of times we often look at why people came to our site, even more valuable can be finding out why they left our site and what is the information that was missing…..

  16. says

    One of the top reasons why most people leave a site is upfront selling. If the landing page is selling them an eBook when they want to get some free information, you’ll lose traffic rapidly.

  17. says

    Good Post – I never thought of asking the reader what they were looking for. I am going to try this on my Affiliate sites to see how it works…maybe with a auto-responder…Mmmmm

  18. says

    I once read a person’s blog from the UK who is in the moving/shipping business, about this very topic…figuring out what people are searching for, and why. She was able to figure out who was a potential customer, and who was trying to sell to HER, based on their keywords. Interesting stuff.

  19. says

    Hi Nile
    Great article! I use stats to see what visitors are doing on my site. I love the ideas about 404 pages. I had never seen that before and I am now putting it on my list to attend to. Thanks for all your valuable advice! I will be back to learn more.


  20. says

    Knowing what your visitors want to find on your website can really make a huge difference if you want to keep them and make them loyal visitors, thanks for sharing these tips Mile…

  21. says

    These are awesome posts you did. I have access to all the information but sometimes figuring out how to read it correctly is the hard part. Using what you have shown about landing pages, exit pages, and all of the things in between will really help. Thank you, I’ll be a reader for life now.

  22. says

    Well, i should say you are too good at blogging. As you have mentioned here, it is not easy to get the idea on what people are looking for and why they visit your site, Unless you have an paid tracking tool. Although Google analytics gives an idea about it upto some extent. Still not accurate. Anyway your post certainly pushed me to look at it. Thanks for the info.

  23. says

    Analytics is a great tool to use for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) seeing what people are searching for which eventually leads to someone clicking on your site using the ‘keywords’ subtitle can help you to discover new keywords that you never thought to optimize for.

  24. says

    Analytics is a great tool to use for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) seeing what people are searching for which eventually leads to someone clicking on your site using the ‘keywords’ subtitle can help you to discover new keywords that you never thought to optimize for.

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