Marshall Breeding, a familiar speaker at many conferences, talked about web site analytics and the importance to using them to know your audience better. In the academic world, it is disturbing that only 2% of the students begin their information searches at a library website. The usage of library websites by students dropped from 30% to 20% between 2005 and 2007, a trend that Breeding finds alarming. It is therefore important to do anything possible to make the sites better.
An enterprise approach should be used to analyze usage of all of a library’s resources: Web servers, OPACs, e-resources, databases, and repositories, as well as the flow of use among them. Server logs, referral data, and Google Analytics can be used for this purpose. Proper analyties goes beyond simply counting pages. You need to identify sessions, categorize users, and determine use patterns. Measure interest by time spent on site, bounce rate, and page overlay analysis.
How do users get to your site? Track performance of the site relative to major search engines. Think about driving people into your site using search engine optimization techniques. Tune your site’s structure and page content to maximized its exposure to search engines.
Columnist, Information Today and IL 2008 Blog Coordinator