Google Analytics is a free tool designed to measure and report on the performance of your website. Not only is this tool perfect for websites of any size, but it is easy to use and install. Most of all, it is developed by Google, the dominant search engine worldwide, which in turn may bring the traffic and customers you want on your site.
Installing Google Analytics is easy and straight forward using a small code snippet which can be copied straight onto your site pages. Your website developer should find this process takes just a couple of minutes following Google own step by step instructions. You should take care to place this code on all your pages, including both your website and mobile site (if you have one).
Start here: http://www.google.com/analytics
Once running, Google Analytics will provide an extensive array of metrics that will help you understand (and improve) your website activity. This data is available to you and your web developers in real-time allowing you to monitor performance as well as respond to changes and lessons learnt over time. Here are some important ones:
Audience is a set of metrics that can tell you much about the people on your website. Key indicators include total visits, unique visitors and pageviews. Each indicator shows a different view of activity on your website and gives you insight of what is going on. One important indicator shows the number or percentage of new (first-time) visitors to your website compared to returning. This too is valuable when understanding your audience.
Digging deeper, Analytics provides detailed data about your audience by mapping out their location (by country) and language. Whilst your traditional target market may be limited to your home town or country, your website may offer some surprises highlighting interest from other regions and open up new opportunities.
Technology is yet another key piece of information where Analytics provides a detailed view of the devices, browser and operating systems used by your visitors. A further section provides the same level of details for mobile devices allowing you to understand how customers are accessing your site. This in turn may affect your decisions in terms of functions and design in the future.
A favourite Audience metric is Engagement. This allows you to see how much time visitors spend on each page and how many pages they visit in their session. This information is a great measure of how effective your website is at holding your visitor’s attention.
Acquisition is a set of metrics that tell you about the different way that visitors land on your website. Here you will find critical facts about your organic ranking on search engines and the effectiveness of your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
Google Analytics allows you to link your Google Adwords account to simultaneously display your PPC adverts over your website traffic. This is a great way to visualize the effectiveness and performance of your adverts.
The Behaviour metrics are designed to display traffic information from the point of view of your website content. Here you will be able to view your most popular pages, average time on page as well as the all important bounce rates.
Site Speed metrics show you your average page load times and which pages are faster and slower. This data is ideal to identify any bottlenecks or even technical problems which can frustrate visitors.
Site Content data focuses on the structure and contents of your pages. Use this metric to identify which content works and which is useless.
Conversions metrics provide various ways to measure the ultimate effectiveness of your website. You will need to setup specific targets or goals for each of your objectives in order to obtain reports on each one. For example, you may create a goal as an enquiry form. In this way, Google Analytics will provide reports about the achieved goals when compared with all the other traffic, activity and traffic sources. From here you may, for example, determine which adverts generate more enquiries or even measure your conversions in monetary value using Ecommerce goals.
Google Analytics Is Getting Better
Google announced the upgrade of its Analytics platform to a whole new version, being called Universal Analytics. The new version is currently in its beta phase where it is available to the public in a limited mode prior to full public launch.
Benefits Of Universal Analytics
The new engine provides new and improved data processing facilities, data collection methods and even more analysis tools. Whilst some of these benefits translate to goodies for the tech guys to make the implementation more widely available and robust, however many of these also result in more information and imporved reporting for decision makers. In particular the new version focuses on cross domain tracking and more accurate search analysis.
Universal Analytics is also designed around a multi-device web where customers are tracked and data collected across devices whilst taking into account platform specific features such as from Android and Apple iOS.
We think that Google Analytics rocks and that no website should be without. The data and insight it provides are world class and its web-based reporting system is fantastic. Add the fact that this service is completely free and you'll see why we love to include this tool with every website we produce for your clients.
Whilst Google Analytics is without a doubt the most popular web analytics tool in the world, there are many alternative tools out there which may work better in specialized business environments or that can work alongside Google’s. Here are some:
This tool specializes in helping you learn more about your customers. It works well when used alongside Google Analytics.
An advanced analytics tool that focuses on customer engagement and on-site actions. The reporting engine is ideal for complex segmentation queries and programmatic integration.
An extensive range of analytics tools and products designed to simplify the collection and tracking of customer centric website activity.