Whilst Google Analytics is probably the one of the most important tools you will ever have at your disposal as an internet marketer, it is, no doubt, rather daunting at first glance. All the numbers and graphs are enough to make you take a step back – not to worry though, here’s what you ABSOLUTELY need to know…
First up, you’ll need to register for Google Analytics, which is a breeze (made even easier if you already have a Google account such as Gmail, Docs, etc). You will then need to verify your website by including a tracking code into your HTML (instructions are provided). Once that’s done, give it 1-3 months to collect data about your site usage before logging in.
Upon logging into Google Analytics, you will be greeted by a colorful looking dashboard (if you have more than one website, just select the one you want to look at from the list provided). The dashboard is broken up into the following sections:
o Site Usage
o Visitors Overview
o Map Overlay
o Traffic Sources Overview
o Content Overview
This section essentially covers the traffic/usage element of your website’s metrics. Most important are visits, bounce rate and average time on site.
“Visits” is the total number of visits to your site (by humans, not spiders) over the time period specified (this can be found in the top right hand corner – take note of this as the larger the time period, the better quality the data).
“Bounce rate” is the percentage of visitors who visit your website, and leave almost immediately (i.e., non targeted visitors). An acceptable bounce rate varies from industry to industry, but try to keep it between 30% – 45%.
“Average Time on Site” is as it says – is the average time each visitor spends on your site. You want to aim to increase this figure over time and get visitors to “hang around”. A great way to increase your average time spent on site is to utilize video elements. Video is much more effective at engaging visitors than mere text, and as such will keep them on your site for longer.
In the site usage area you will also find the percentage of new visits. This would be a very important figure to keep an eye on if you are a news publisher or run a site that depends highly on return visitors.
Onthe surface, this is a simple line graph, providing a display of how many visitors you’ve had over the time specified time period. You will be able to gain valuable information such as the browser types used, as well as the internet access speed (which will affect the best type of content for your site) in this section. Furthermore, you can find out what operating system they’re using, what resolution they’re set to (very important from a design perspective), and what language they prefer (essential for international business).Click on the “view report” link for more in-depth details on these visitors.
Traffic Sources Overview
This is the goldmine of Analytics data as it reveals where your traffic is coming from. This overview displays the relative percentage of traffic originating from search engines, referring site or direct visits. Ideally, you’ll want to increase your search traffic (either organically or using PPC) over time.
Once again, clicking the “view report” link will provide in-depth data on the sources. Check who’s referring the most traffic and see if you can capitalize on it. Also, have a look at the keywords that you’re featuring for in search engines and consider optimizing for them (if you haven’t already done so). You may find that a certain keyword converts traffic much better than another, and this would thus be worth capitalizing on.
This area simply shows you what your visitors are looking at (the “/” means your home page). You may be surprised to see that your visitors are spending a lot of time on your internal pages, which means you’d better ensure that the content is top notch! Also, if you are monetizing your website with Adsense of any other form of advertising, you want to make sure that your most visited pages are will covered in terms of ad displays.
And that is the Google Analytics dashboard in a nutshell. As long as you understand what these main metric represent, you will be able to fiddle and figure the more complex metrics out along the way. It’s amazing how much rich data Analytics provides, and best of all, its free!
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