Friday, July 30, 2010
Google analytics is a great free tool provided by Google that every webmaster should use or at least be familiar with. With Google analytics you can figure out which posts are getting the most traffic, find out what keywords are driving traffic to your site, and even figure out what part of the world your visitors are coming from. Knowing information about your visitors and potential customers is crucial in mapping out a plan of success for your website as you need to figure out what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
The first thing you want to do when using google analytics is to setup your site so that google analytics can track your domain.
1.The first thing you need to do is go to http://www.google.com/analytics and log in with your google account (this can be your gmail login if you use gmail. If not sign up for gmail at http://www.gmail.com)
2. From the Overview page, select the account that has the profile for the tracking code you're looking for, as the code is profile-specific.
3. Select the profile from the accounts Overview page.
4. From that profile's Actions column, click Edit
5. At the top right of the 'Main Website Profile Information' box, click Check Status
6. Your tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for adding tracking section
When adding your tracking code to your web pages, make sure to paste it into the body section of your HTML code, immediately preceding the tag if you use the ga,js code. If you use the asynchronous code, you should add it immediately preceding the tag.
Note that it usually takes google a day or two to start tracking stats for your website so be patient. Once your site or sites are setup and google starts monitoring your site its time to login to your google analytics account, select the profile (or website) you want to check analytics for, and check your stats. You will see one of your website profiles with your traffic stats for the last month. You should be able to see the amount of visits for the month, the average time on the site, the bounce rate, completed goals, and percentage change. Bounce rate is defined by google as the "percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page." The lower the bounce rate percentage the better because it means that your visitors are checking out the rest of your site and not just your landing page. If you have a high bounce rate the content you are providing may not be relevant to your visitors so adjustments might need to be made. Completed goals are goals you can setup within google analytics. Percentage change is either the percentage increase or decrease in visitors from the last month google tracked. Now that we have checked out the overview page its time to click on the blue view report button to the left of the number of visits and to dive further into your sites stats.
When you click on view report the first thing you will see is your dashboard. You will see a string of blue dots strung together. This represents the number of visits you got for the last thirty days broken down as individual days. To the right of the dashboard you will see the dates that google is tracking and an arrow pointing down. If you click on the downward arrow you are able to examine the stats of a specific day by clicking the day on the calendar and hitting apply. We will get more into this later so for now click back to the dashboard page. Below the dashboard graph you will see the site usage category. Here you will see the amount of visits for the last month, the overall number of page views, the number of pages per visit, the bounce rate, that avg. time on site and percentage of new visits. The number of page views means the total amount of different pages that people clicked too on your site. The more page views you have means that your visitors are interested in your content so that is great. The number of pages per visit is calculated by dividing the number of page views by the number of visitors. Once again the higher the amount of pages per visit the better. The percentage of new visitors means the number of new people that are visiting your site for the first time divided by the total number of visitors. Its hard to say exactly what number of new visitors you want as your site needs a nice balance of returning visitors and new visitors. If your new visitors are in the 90th percent this is not a good sign as people are not returning to your site enough.
Below site usage is the visitors overview section. The visitors overview section measures absolutely unique visitors which will be different than the total number of visitors. Absolutely unique visitors is defined by google as the number of unduplicated(counted only once) visitors to your website over the course of a specific time period. This differs from the total number of visitors in that absolutely unique visitors only visited the site once where the total number of visitors could return and visit the site more than once. When you click on view report for visitors overview you will see another graph with the amount of unique visitors per day. The only new information on this page is pretty much the number of absolute unique visitors overall and the amount per day. You also can check out what type of browser your visitors use (firefox, safari, internet explorer etc.) and your visitors connection speed but I don't find this information too useful. If you click back on your browser its time to go back to the dashboard and check out the next useful report.
To the right of visitors overview is the Content Overview report. The content overview report will help you figure out which pages your visitors are checking out the most and how long they are staying on each particular page of your website. When you click on view report you will be greeted by yet another graph. The graph will show the number of page views for each day of the month. Below the graph will be the number of page views, the number of unique pageviews, and the bounce rate. Below those numbers will be a category called Top Content. This is where you can see which pages on your domain or website are getting the most page views and time spent. If you see under pages a / sign this just means this is the main domain of your site and not an inner page. Top content will show you the top five inner pages on your domain getting the most page views. To find out more click on view full report. Inside you you will see listed in order the inner pages on your site or blog getting the most page views ranked in order of the most to the least. In addition to pageviews you will see unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate, percentage exit, and dollar index. The main things to keep track off are page views, average time on page, and bounce rate. For example for our teesinapod blog we can go in and see which of our posts for the month got the most page views, the amount of time someone spent on each blog post, and the bounce rate. We can then determine which blog posts were the most successful and try to do our next post in a similar style. Also we can learn which blog posts were duds. If a page got a low amount of page views and a low amount of time on the site it was pretty much a bomb and we can try not to write those type of posts next time. Now lets click back twice on our browser so we can bet back to the dashboard page and view the next report.
Below the visitors overview is the Traffic sources overview where you will see a pie chart with referring sites, direct traffic, and search engines. Referring sites are sites such as twitter or facebook that referred traffic to your website or blog. Direct traffic means that someone typed in your website directly and search engine means that someone found your blog or website through google, yahoo, bing or another search engine. Lets click on view report. You will see a graph of the number of total visits to your site for the month. Once again you can click on the down arrow in the calendar to examine an individual day. Below the graph you will see the total number of visits, the percent of direct traffic, the percent of Referring sites, and percentage of traffic from search engines. Below that you will see the Top Traffic Sources category. Listed below you will see the top five sources of your traffic or in other words where your blog or website is getting its traffic from. For example this month on teesinapod twitter and facebook lead the way for us. Not a surprise as we spend so much time there that twitter and facebook might as well give us a housekey. If you click on full report you can see every site that is sending your blog or website traffic. A bunch of little sites sending traffic can really add up. If you click back you will see next to sources a header entitled keywords. These are the top five keywords that are sending your website traffic from the search engines. This is quite helpful to know as you can see which keywords you are strong on and which keywords that you need to improve your rankings for. If you click on view full report you can see the full list of keywords driving traffic to your website from the search engines. Once again lets click back until we reach the dashboard section.
Underneath the Content overview report is the header Map Overlay. Let's click on view report to see where our visitors are coming from. When you click on View report a map will come up. You can scroll on each country to see the amount of traffic you are getting per country. The darker the green areas on the map means that is where you are getting the most traffic from. The less green means that you aren't getting that much traffic from that particular country. Below the Map you will see the top ten countries your website visitors are coming from along with the columns of visits, pages per visit, average time on site, percentage of new visits, and bounce rate. To see more than ten countries you can click on the right arrow right below the bounce rate of the tenth country on the list. Additionally if you click on a country to see more details you can see what particular cities your visitors are coming from. If you click on the United States it will show you what states you get the most visitors from. Click on the states to find what cities your visitors are coming from. Map Overlay is great for seeing what demographic is enjoying your site based on number of page views and average time on the site. If your site is based on appealing to a certain demographic you certainly want to know if the visitors you want are staying and enjoying your site or avoiding it like the plague. If your target demographic or location is avoiding your site you need to change your strategy. It could be that your site is offending that regions culture or way of life.
This about wraps up our tutorial on google analytics. Remember that if you want to know more about your websites stats on an individual day go into a report such as traffic sources and click on the down arrow of the date button to access the calendar. Once you click on the calendar you can look at one particular date or look at a date range by typing in the date range in the boxes provided. You will then be presented with even more stats for the day that are basically the same options as you had when viewing your monthly stats. As an example if you go to the traffic sources report for say july 5th you will see the percentage of direct traffic, referring sites, and search engines that you got for July 5th. In addition you will see the July 5th traffic stats for top traffic sources and top keywords. Remember google analytics is a great tool to see what is working for your site and what areas of your website need improvement. Testing and tracking your analytics after you make a change to your website is huge in getting your website where you want it to be.
Written by Timothy Fox, Soge Shirts funny t shirts