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Why You Should Already Be Using SharePoint Usage Reports

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Reports are an incredibly important medium for relaying information, or recounting the details of a specific event in a presentable form. They’re the primary material for keeping a clear track of information, allowing the reader to distinguish notable trends, or single out certain metrics.

Whether it’s an audit report, census report, investigative report, progress report, or even the dreaded school report card – all are critical in helping us make better, more informed decisions around the subject at hand.

SharePoint Usage Reports

Unlike high school report cards, however, usage reports in SharePoint aren’t so intimidating that you’ll want to throw them in the shredder, without your parents finding out about its existence. The reality is, thankfully, much more practical.

SharePoint usage reports offer information to help you better understand the way individuals interact with a site. Those responsible for the management of a SharePoint site are sure to get asked a number of questions – usually from site owners – regarding the type of information their site users are looking for. This may include questions such as:

  • What are the top queries on my site per day/per month?
  • How many search queries are users performing on average?
  • Which queries are getting low clicks, and why?
  • How often are people clicking promoted results?

Of course, site managers (or anyone, for that matter) don’t have the time to scour through every individual search query and answer those kinds of questions. For this very reason, SharePoint usage reports are available to take the burden away. SharePoint usage reports display a number of statistics that showcase how visitors have interacted with the content on a website, whether it’s regarding ‘most viewed items’ or ‘most active users’. Reports are broken down per usage events, which means that, by default, site owners will be able to see:

  • The number of views for an item.
  • The number of recommendations displayed per item.
  • The number of recommendations clicked per item.

A definite improvement over thousands of individual bits of data, these metrics still don’t tell the whole story. From the above statistics, SharePoint creates two usage analytics reports that are automatically updated every 24 hours to give users an idea of the most popular content on their site:

  1. Most Popular Items – Usage event statistics for all items in a library or list.
  2. Popularity Trends – Usage event statistics for an item, a site, or a site collection.

However, as if that wasn’t enough, SharePoint offers a comprehensive and collective view of all user activity on a specified site, which is referred to as a Usage Summary report. Usage reports showcase how many people are using the site, the most popular site resources, who uses the site the most, and site entry point. Reports also include a summary of total visits, page hits, bytes downloaded and more.

Usually taking the form of an Excel spreadsheet, usage reports can be found in the SharePoint admin center. Users are also able to chart their usage data into a graphical format, making it even easier to spot any trends, as well as identify usage patterns.

Why Are SharePoint Usage Reports Useful?

This collection of reports should provide suitable information for site users. But for those that are looking for some additional insight, users can run detailed usage reports to answer questions about how users are accessing a site with greater accuracy. This may be more beneficial for certain users, as Usage Summary reports offer a broader insight into site activity.

For example, if you wanted to gather details on how many hits were counted for each individual page in the site, you need to view a monthly summary. Detailed SharePoint usage reports include the following:

  1. Monthly/Weekly/Daily Summary

    A summary of the number of visits, hits, total hits, and download size on your site per month, week, or day.

  2. Monthly/Weekly/Daily Page Hits

    A monthly, weekly, or daily summary of the number of total site hits, as well as the number of hits for each individual site page.

  3. Visiting Users

    A summary of the number of visiting users, and the corresponding percentage compared to the total for the month.

  4. Operating Systems

    A summary of the number of visiting user operating systems and the percentage compared to the total for a selected month.

  5. Browsers

    A summary of the number of visits per browser, and their percentage of the total for a selected month.

  6. Referring Domains

    The number of visits that come from a specific domain, and the corresponding percentage.

  7. Referring URLs

    The count of visits from a specific URL and the percentage total.

  8. Search Strings

    Lists the count of search strings typed into the site’s search box, as well as the percentage total for a selected month.

Reporting For Duty

SharePoint Usage reports are features that are rarely heard of, but can provide a great deal of information for both site users and owners. Whether you need to gather general statistics about site activity, or want to see which content is the most popular, there are a number of reports that can get you the information you need.

Of course, they have their limitations. If you want deeper SharePoint reporting options, you might want look into third party solutions (like Sharegate!).

How often do you use SharePoint Usage reports?

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