- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 11, 2016
Google Analytics has become the de facto standard for tools that track the traffic on your website (and blog). Google Analytics rather took over this market (at least as far as small businesses are concerned) as it’s free and it’s good. Quite a combination.
Setting it up
- To get started with Google Analytics you’re going to need a Google account—but if you have a Gmail email address you already have one of these.
- Then you’re going to need to go to Google.com/analytics. Once there you need to add your website to Google Analytics (we won’t go into how to do this here as it’s a bit long but the instructions are on the Analytics site itself).
- Finally (and the trickiest part) is you need to add Google Analytics’ HTML code to your website and/or blog to “connect” it to your site. Hint: if you use WordPress go grab a plug in like Ultimate Google Analytics that will make this part of the process super easy. This Google code needs to be added to all pages of your website so you usually add it to the footer or header of your page (this is done automatically on WordPress if you use a plugin.)
Google Analytics can be rather overwhelming at first given all the possible reports you can look at it.
The best way to get familiar with the tool (in my opinion) is to take “baby steps” and only look at some basic but important reports for the first couple of months you use the tool. Once you’re comfortable with those reports then you can delve deeper into the tool and even customize it to your needs.
Here are a few of those basic reports to look at:
When you first login to Google Analytics you will be taken to the audience overview screen. The default view that will come up will be a graph of the number of “visits” to your site over the last month (as shown below—numbers obscured for privacy reasons.)
Below the graph is a table that has a lot of key data. Some data you definitely want to look at it in the table below the graph:
How much traffic is flowing to your site every month? A simple metric that shows you is “visits”. The “visits” number for your site is simply how many times your site was visited during the last month.
The metric “unique visitors” is similar to “visits” but only counts the number of people that visited your site during the measured time period. This is probably the most important metric to most local businesses and one that every business owner wants to see rising each month or at least year-over-year.
Number of people is different to number of visits as someone that visits twice is counted as 2 “visits” but only 1 unique visitor. The “unique visitors” metric reports how many individual humans came to your site this month.
How many pages on your site are people actually viewing? “Pageviews” are sometimes called “impressions”, especially when talking about advertising. If a person lands on your main page and then clicks a link to visit another page, his visit consists of 2 pageviews. If he then clicks around and visits 3 more pages, his visit consists of 5 pageviews.
How are people finding your site? By getting a handle on that, you can determine where your marketing efforts are paying off and where they’re not.
In Google Analytics traffic sources are broken down into 4 broad categories: people who find your site through search engines, people who directly enter the URL of your site or get there through bookmarks, people who are referred to your site through links from other websites and people that come from social networks.
This data can give you clues as to how much impact your search engine optimization efforts are having; what might be coming from word-of-mouth or email or print marketing – where people are typing in your website address; or from social media or content marketing where people are clicking through from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Go to the menu item “Audience” then click “Overview” to get the high level report of this data, as shown above. You can click on any one of the terms such as “Social” to get a breakdown of which sites are sending you traffic.
What content on your site is most popular? What works and what doesn’t?
Google Analytics “behavior overview” report ranks your site’s content according to how many times the pages were viewed (i.e. by ‘pageviews’). By reviewing this data over time you can get a feel for the type of content your customers value. You can then produce more of what works and cut back on the content that is not popular.
There are tons of ways to slice-and-dice data in Google Analytics. We’ll come back and show you some more ways in future posts but for now we hope these few basic reports will get you on the road.