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.
    John Gaydon recently posted..Linking To The Correct Sites Can Certainly Create A Big Difference In Your Search Engine RankingsMy Profile

  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
    Jupiter Jim recently posted..WordPress Tutorial: How to edit WordPress Posts and Pages in Full Screen ModeMy Profile

  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!
    Natasha Nassar recently posted..Welcome To My Blog!My Profile

  4. 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.

  5. 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!
    Anthony recently posted..Hankook Tire ReviewsMy Profile

  6. 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.

  7. 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.
    Jon Anscher recently posted..Building a Resume to ImpressMy Profile

  8. 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.

  9. 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
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted..Online Network Marketing Tools BloggingMy Profile

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.
    Jeet recently posted..8 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid While Promoting your BusinessMy Profile

  13. 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.
    Michael recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

  14. 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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