Google Analytics: an essential view to your website's activity

Google Analytics Body

What is Google Analytics and why should you care? Google analytics is a FREE powerful suite of website monitoring tools. It will give you a lot of information about who uses what parts of your website, when they visit, how many of them there are, where they come from (both geographically and referring web sites) the time they spend, how they move through it and how many of them actually end up doing the target behavior.

This information typically surprises the website owner. Sometimes you see tons of referrals from some website you didn't even know about. Other times you see people bouncing (hitting the page and immediately leaving), and you can't believe they wouldn't want to stick around and read your awesome content. Whatever you see, you can learn from it and adjust your website.

Google analytics seems overwhelming when you first get into it but there are just really two simple things to remember:

  • have the unique basic tracking code on every page
  • add bells and whistles as you go along.

If you do not have a Google account (what planet are you from again?) you need to get one from (Free, of course) Once you log into your Google account, analytics is one of the many services you can sign up for.

Google generates a specific tracking code for each website domain that you add. You need to make sure that this code appears on every page. This is best done by installing it in the page footer. You can do this, or instruct your web person to do it. Side note: If you do not know what a page footer is, I highly recommend that you rethink your website's design before delving into Google Analytics or you will spend all your time chasing your tail. In any event, once you install it, you ask Google to check it. If it is correctly installed, Google will tell you it is tracking. The next day you should start seeing data in your reports. It updates once a day so you will never see data from the current day.

What can you know with basic reporting? You can track referrals to a ridiculous degree. You can see what countries your visitors come from in nice graphical format. You can observe trends in referrals. You can see what your most visited pages are. If anyone finds your content with a search engine you can see what your most popular search terms are.

This is only basic reporting. Once you familiarize yourself with the answers basic reporting will give you, certain questions will occur to you, such as, "but how many of them are actually buying it?" When you get to that point it is time for you to look at conversion goals. A lot more can be done with conversion goals, which I will cover in another article.

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Comments 2 comments

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Hey, HD, I think there's a real need for this kind of information about Analytics. As you and many others know, the Google documentation experts don't explain this fantastic tool very well. It IS overwhelming at first glance.

I think it would be helpful to tell folks how to get that tracking code into the footer of their websites (if not tell them, then provide a link to point them in the right direction), absent the professional web person, or is this detail out of the scope of what you want to do?

Great information. Looking forward to your next Analytics Hub.

Best regards, Sally

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Wow a comment on this moldy old hub. Getting the code into the footer varies so much from site to site depending on which CMS they are using, what type of hosting plan they have, and whether they even have control of their web templates. It's impossible to give exact instructions for how to do it in general. I could provide some kind of general wishy washy pointers with multiple caveats. I could say how to do it exactly for Hub pages and a couple of popular blogging platforms.

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