This is a guest blog post by David Murton. He helps companies with customer relationships. He is also a professional writer and blogger, with a particular interest in the open source Drupal platform. On a more personal note, David is an avid piano and accordion player, drawn especially to music of the classical and romantic periods.
Google Analytics is completely free, and their Help section covers many topics. Usage is easy, complementing and enhancing the results of site management software like cPanel VPS, and similar products from companies like Perforce and Consona. Add those attributes to this list of 21 reasons why Google Analytics is worth implementing.
- Easy and powerful customizable reports. Create your own reports with drag and drop metrics like Visit and Bounce rate, dimensions such as City, and sub-dimensions like Source, Ad group or Keyword. Reports are tailored to your specifications; the tool is intuitive, so the learning curve is mild. Privileges such as deny, read-only, and Administrator, can be configured for all users.
- The Navigation Summary, located in the Content section, covers a lot of information. It yields details of page views such as how the user got there, where they went, and all the details of browsing behaviors in between.
- Emailed reports. Analytics can send activity reports, in one of five formats, to your inbox on a regular basis.
- Goals and Funnels are arguably difficult to set up, but keeping acute track of goals like newsletter subscriptions and sales allows you to see the big picture more clearly. A small army of data points make up the big picture, so you can see all the details at will. The first link in the reference section of this article leads to the Google Analytics support page for Goals and Funnels.
- Domain filtering is a guardian that should not be neglected. Pretend your Analytics code is also on a different site, mingling with irrelevant data. That specific domain can be filtered to no longer count the questionable site.
- Exporting to Excel is a nice time saver. There is no need to copy and paste data from Analytics to Excel files. Excel can open CSV files, a format that reports can export to.
- Filter out your static IP so Google does not include outbound employee traffic. Filtering out others who frequent your site, like an SEO company, is also good practice.
- In-house search statistics. This feature tells you what page users are on when they use your search box, and which page they selected from the results listing. Passing a search variable through the URL achieves this.
- The eCommerce feature can contribute significantly to site monitoring efforts. It tracks a swarm of changing metrics over time, allowing you to see which kind of post generates the most revenue per view, and the average income per page (or page group) visit.
- Geographical data. You can see how visitor count increases and decreases over time based on visitor geography. This can be helpful for narrowing how to remedy dwindling numbers in a certain demographic.
- A relatively new, and handy, feature of Google Analytics is the ability to not just view data within a specific date range, but to compare any date ranges.
- Absolute integration with AdWords. Google Analytics yields data on campaigns, groups and keywords. Each area shows costs, conversions, number of displays, clicks, and the result. It recalculates profit margin with each sale.
- What keywords were used to find me? Google Analytics answers this important question so you can tailor keywords and content to your audience more effectively.
- Viewing deeper into site referrals. The number of links is nice to know, but Analytics also tells you the quality of the traffic, which is at least as important as count.
- Being able to cater to browsers based on their capabilities. With the Goals and Funnels feature, Analytics matches page elements that visitors experience against your goal of how well different browsers should be able to experience your site. It also helps to know the speed of the connections that customers use; this allows you to fine tune your website even more.
- How many visitors become customers? The Visitor Loyalty feature separates unique visitors from those who return, and tells you when and how often returning customers visit.
- How do different kinds of visitors use your site? The Visitor Type Contribution tells you how many page views visitors initiate, how long they have been on your site, and how often they bounce, among other measurements.
- Look at traffic from other search engines with a search engine traffic report. Click Traffic Sources, then Search Engines. If you get significantly more hits from Yahoo or another search engine, focus your content and other SEO efforts on obtaining even more traffic from them.
- You can view exit pages as a function of time, noting any changes. This is another consideration with regards to SEO; altering or adding to the content with material that draws attention is a top priority.
- In the event the day comes when you have to pay ISPs a fee for the privilege of delivering content to the masses, Google Analytics keeps you up to date with a list of providers just in case.
I cannot cover all the goodies of Google Analytics in a single article, but this should give you a glimpse into what it can do for you. The help section, including official YouTube videos like the above, is extensive. The GA blog is filled with answers to frequently asked questions regarding setup and use in a variety of deployments.
With the exceptions of eCommerce, Goals and Funnels, which may require documentation, the tools are intuitive overall; a breeze to setup and use. Analytics gives you the data you want, without the hassle of a steep learning curve, for free.