When I first began this site to monitor my online marketing progress I sat back to determine what metrics I should use to monitor progress. My first thoughts were about 50% right and 50% wrong. There are many statistics available for websites, however not all of them are relevant. Whether or not a statistic makes any sense for you depends on what your goal is.
As my site was new I thought it would be important to monitor site traffic, unique visitors, page views and other typical metrics. While these are valuable and can be used in many ways, such as encouraging advertisers to advertise, they alone are not metrics from which I can make decisions that will impact my main goal.
Determine Your Main Goal
Before you determine which metrics to utilize when monitoring your success and to make decisions from, you must first determine your goal. A site may offer a paid newsletter subscription, their goal would be to obtain new paid users. There are various steps in the process from a first time visitor through the final action of subscribing to a newsletter. In the case of this site the main goal is revenue. Simply tracking traffic to the site is not enough. Therefore should I really of cared about Alexa, Quantcast and Compete?
Alexa, Quantcast and Compete Do Not Matter
In the case of these tracking sites they track overall traffic but that is not the goal of this site. Having third party numbers showing that this site is visited more or less than another is not helpful. Alexa, Quantcast, and Compete have their uses. Alexa Rankings recently changed and Quantcast actually allows you to add code to your pages to add additional information to their statistics about your site. Why would you use them? Mainly to have a third party validate the web traffic to your site and Quantcast also provides information such as demographics about your site visitors. Useful for some purposes but not for this site.
What matters in the case of this site is the ultimate goal of revenue and which metrics assist in determining how to optimize the revenue. If 100,000 people visit my site in one day and I do not generate revenue it does not matter if another 100,000 come the next day, so my Alexa ranking may be high but increasing my Alexa ranking through non converting traffic does me no good. Determining where my visitors come from, such as keywords in a search engine, what they do when they are here, and whether they ultimately end up increasing revenue for this site are the only metrics that matter.
I strongly suggest adding the Google Analytics code to your site. The information they gather is only accessible to you, a free statistics package from Google, and the information is invaluable. You cannot beat this free statistics package and you can better track the metrics that matter to your site.