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Google Analytics – an essential business tool


Posted by Christopher Pinches on September 17, 2010

google analytics

Google Analytics (*GA)…you probably have it but do you actually know how to use it properly? You understand bounce rate(*br) means something bad is happening and if your visitor numbers are high you believe  that’s a good sign…but shouldn’t you know a little more? GA allows you to analyse your traffic data and in turn create a website which converts better. Here at IHM we setup Google analytics as part of your web site package and will even give you a run through on how you can use it.

*br Bounce Rate is the number of users who leave your site after only visiting one page.

Where to start?
The big question if you are new to Google Analytics is how do I use it? The answer is there is no set method. It is up to you what you’d like to measure and how you will use this data to improve your website. One more thing by the way:

To implement Google analytics you simply need to sign up for an account go through the step by step setup and finally paste a block of code just before the </body> tag. Before you can start using analytics properly you will need a decent amount of data, maybe about a months worth before you  can start making informed decisions.

What questions to ask?
You need to ask questions? But what questions should you ask ? Well firstly what are the business goals of your website? Based on this what would you class as a conversion? Maybe if you were an e-commerce site it would be making a sale, or a blog site would be signing up to an RSS feed or a portfolio site it may be sending an email.

But sometimes conversions are a little more subtle to measure…for instance on a new site new users may want to read and learn more about you before they sign up…so then their behaviour becomes the most important thing. So you may instead decide to measure how long they are spending on the site.

Another key thing is to analyse the source of your traffic. For instance when you sent out your monthly email there may have been a sudden spike in traffic. Or maybe if you put out a certain tweet for a new article traffic decreased. Getting this data is all well and good but it is how you interpret this data which will determine how effectively you can use GA.

Set goals
You then need to set goals. A goal could be a set route need to be taken for instance goal 1 may be segmented into homepage > latest news > subscribe to RSS feed.

If you see that people aren’t signing up after arriving at the blog you may want to ask why? Maybe try making the RSS feed button more prominent for instance….or maybe reduce the number of articles visible on a page.

Track specifics
As you get more adept at using GA, you can also track specific links.

Add this s code to a specific link and you can track it:

<a href=”http://www.example.com” onClick=”javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/outgoing/example.com’);”>

You can apply the same principle to mailto links and downloads.

Learn about your visitors
You also need to look at your visitors and analyse new and returning visitors. Returning visitors are more valuable than new visitors as these people will have a deeper interest in your product / service and are therefore more likely to result in a conversion or even be a loyal customer.

In addition you can compare weeks and months…are trends emerging when people visit your site? On Wednesday nights for instance…what is the reason for this? It’s all about asking questions like this!

Benchmarking & Keywords
As you delve deeper into the world of GA, you will come across benchmarking, whereby you can compare your site to other competitor sites and see how you can compare. An essential tool especially for SEO is keywords. You can see which keywords people are using to search for you. Once you have identified the most popular keywords you can implement these into your site or adjust your keywords accordingly.

For a more in depth report have a check over at smashing magazine

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