Using Google Analytics

| October 12, 2013

web_analyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics program aimed at helping webmasters track website traffic to – and activity on – their website. It generates statistics about any website to which analytics page tag code has been added. The code runs in the background of the website each time a page is viewed, collecting data from the user’s cookies and sending it to Google’s server from where reports are generated. You can use it to understand what visitors to your site are doing, how long they are spending there and which pages they are viewing.

How Google Analytics Can Be Utilized:

ONE – Track Unique Visits and Page Views

The program tracks both initial and returning visits, as well as page views:

  • The first time a user comes to your website, he or she is recorded as a unique browser for the day, month and year.
  • If the user returns the following day, he is counted as a unique visitor for the day only, but has already been recorded for the month and the year.

This enables you to determine how many people come to your site for each time period, without counting them twice.

Page views or “hits” refer to the number of pages viewed during each visit, so if a visitor reads three pages on your website, those are counted as three page views.

TWO – Understand Visitor Characteristics

Thanks to Javascript-enabled cookies, Google Analytics is able to track website traffic to identify some anonymous information about each visitor to the site. Usually, this consists of the user’s country of location, pages viewed and the average amount of time they spent on each page they visited. All this is a good indication of your visitors’ areas of interest.

If you have an eCommerce option, you can identify what they purchased or viewed. You can also determine which keywords are driving visitors to the site. This helps identify the keywords to target in your future content. You can also track those visitors who viewed your site on a mobile device, which is helpful when it comes to determining whether to develop a responsive web design.

THREE – Monitor Bounce Rates

A bounce rate in the context of tracking website traffic refers to a user arriving on a page of your site, and then leaving without taking any further action or visiting any other pages. When this happens it’s assumed that either the user arrived by mistake, or quickly realized the site held nothing of interest, hence the rapid exit.

By monitoring where high bounce rates occur, you can identify pages that may be delivering an error, not loading accurately, or have poor quality content that doesn’t resonate with the audience.

FOUR – Identify Traffic Sources

It’s always good to know where your visitors come from:

    • Did they come to your site via a search engine?
    • Are they followers on social media?
    • Did they click on a link to your site from a mention in the blog of a partner organization?

Google Analytics identifies the referring URL of your traffic and the standard report presents you with a list of the top 10 referrers. You can drill down into the stats for more in-depth reporting on how your visitors are coming to your site.

FIVE – Review Campaigns

You can measure the success of individual advertising campaigns using platforms, such as AdWords, AdSense and email marketing blasts, simply by adding the Analytics code to the site or page you want to track. The program will track website traffic based on landing page quality and conversions, whether these are sales, completion of an online form for more information, downloading an eBook or a document, or visiting a particular page.

SIX – Draw Custom Reports and Statistics

Google Analytics can generate up to 85 different custom reports, based on your requirements for analyzing your traffic. For example, if you offer a downloadable product, such as an eBook or a white paper, you can track where the visitor came from, how he got to your site, which pages he viewed and how many of your offerings he downloaded.

You can customize the data in the reports you draw, based on:

    • Specific time periods
    • Keywords
    • Most/least visited pages
    • Time spent on the site
    • Referring URLs
    • Conversions
    • Leads generated

Unless you can track website traffic and measure the response to your online communications, you have no idea of whether you’re succeeding in reaching the people you want to connect with. Google Analytics reports can help you determine your progress and efficacy. The basic application is free and a premium version can be purchased for an annual flat fee of $150.

Category: Marketing

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Email | Website | Terri Melvin is co-owner of the Christian Marketing Institute, a website design, internet marketing and online community learning destination for Christian business professionals.