This week, we cover Google Analytics - a completely free tool that will give you visibility into who uses your website, how they use it, and where they come from.
Analytics is a tool provided by Google. It's free, although you can pay for extra features. For very little effort and cost, Google Analytics gives you a tremendous amount of information about your website. Whether you run an online business, or just have a simple website as a source of information for potential customers, Analytics can help you understand how your website is working for you, and how it could work better. It's a popular tool, around half of all website use Google Analytics, so if you're not, you might be missing out on some useful information and statistics.
Google Analytics has to be installed on your website. To do this, you need to have access to the source code behind your site, or you need to know someone who does! If your website uses a Content Management System (CMS) like Wordpress or Joomla, then it's an easy job. Firstly you need to sign up for Analytics - you can do this here: www.google.com/analytics. Once you have registered for access, you need to add your site to your Analytics profile, just click the button to add a new account, provide your website name and URL, and answer a few simple questions. Once done, you will receive a unique tracking number a little bit of code.
Once you've got the tracking code from Google, you need to place it on your website. If you (or your web designer) have access to the source code of your site, you need to make sure the Google tracking code is placed on every page of your site. Most new sites will use an 'include' file, which is automatically included on every page of your site, if you have such a file, that's where to place the tracking code. If your site uses Joomla or Wordpress, or another similar CMS, then depending on your template, it's normally a simple case of telling Wordpress or Joomla your Google tracking number, you will often find a box in the settings pages where you can paste the Google tracking number.
Ok this is not meant to be a detailed breakdown of how to use Analytics. It's far too complex for that! However what I will do is outline the main features that are useful to the typical small business. I'm not going to re-invent the wheel here, as Google have done a pretty good job of describing how to use Analytics here.
- Find our where your visitors are coming from.
In order to assess the effectiveness of any online marketing activity, you need to know where your visitors are coming from. If you've paid for a Facebook ad, or spent time building content and driving visitors to your site, then only way you can validate your work is to know how many people are landing on your page and what they clicked on to get there. Analytics will tell you that.
- What did people search for in order to find you?
If your visitors came from Google's search engine, then Analytics will tell you exactly what searches are directing people to your website. This is vital in understanding what your keywords are, and which ones work best for you.
- How popular is your site?
Analytics will give you a nice pretty chart showing how many hits your site is getting. It will also clean up the data, and present you with information on unique visitors, in other words, how many unique visitors browsed your site in a given time period.
- Which pages do people like?
Analytics will also tell you which pages on your site are the most popular, and even how long people spend on them. If you find people are landing on a page, and leaving in a matter of seconds, this indicates you should consider changing the page, maybe rewording the information or adding some new content to make the page more interesting.
- What is your bounce rate?
Knowing your bounce rate helps you to understand how people interact with your site, and also understand whether you are attracting the right sort of visitors. Your bounce rate is normally expressed as a percentage. It tells you how many people found your site, then decided to go somewhere else rather than clinking another link in your site. If your bounce rate is high, eg. 90%, then 9 in 10 people who find your site decide to go somewhere else. In this case your site is not fulfilling their needs. Did they search for something else? Or maybe your site doesn't get it's message across to the user?
Know your Audience!
Analytics can help you better understand your web site statistics, and give you an important insight into how people are using it. Only when you understand how people are using your site, what works and doesn't work, can you start to improve it.