2009.02.09 14:45:15
Susan Jackman

As most web developers know, Google Analytics is a very powerful (and free) way to track your websites metrics. Google Analytics provides some great information about what is happening on your website.  So what makes it such a great tool and why should you add it to your site?


Traffic sources

With Google analytics you can capture internal search stats.  Google Analytics can tell you where your site visitors are coming from and breaks it down for you and an easy to understand percentage based pie chart.  For example it will compare how many visitors find your site through search engines, referring sites (links from other sites) and direct traffic (users who typed in the domain name or used a browser bookmark to get to your site).  It will tell you exactly how many users came from which referring site or what keyword users typed into Google to get there.

Content

Site owners want to know which pages are being read and this Google Analytics will tell you.  Pay special attention to the “Time on Page” and “Bounce Rate”, since a short time on page and high bounce rate might indicate that a page is driving visitors away from your site.

With Google Analytics you can track your document downloads or clicks on specific links.  Adding a small piece of JavaScript to any link will tell Google to track when someone clicks on that link. This works for all links, including PDFs, Word documents, email addresses and external links. You can also use it to see which two links on the same page are generating more clicks.

Visitors

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your sites visitors, what browser and version they are using to view your site, their computer platform, their screen color settings, their screen resolution, whether or not they have Flash and Java enabled, even their internet connection speed.  This is all very valuable information for your web developer or Webmaster.  If for example your site is optimized for a large screen resolution and you have a lot of visitors with smaller resolutions, then it might be time for a design makeover.  If you have a lot of visitors with slow connections and your site is full of FLASH or tons of graphics, your Webmaster or developer can take steps to lighten the page loads.

Location (map overlay)

Not only does Google Analytics give you your visitors browsing habits, but it will also tell you where they are located.  You can find out if your site visitors are all locals, or whether you have reached a much broader audience.  You can drill down to the city. You may discover that your audience is more international or localized than you would have guessed, allowing you to better target the content and timing of your posts. Are all of your visitors in California? Time your post for 8:00 PST so it’s at the top of their feed readers in the morning.

New vs. Returning

Everybody wants to know if they’ve got fans, and this report tells you just that. Google Analytics will tell you how many of your visitors are first time and how many are returning.

Google Analytics can do much more than I have mentioned here, I am just discovering this tool so check it out for yourself.  You won’t regret it.  Visit http://www.google.com/analytics/features.html to learn more about it's features.

 


  Susan Jackman | Tips | Usability | Marketing | Web Development | Internet