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Google Analytics – The Basics

Google Analytics is a free service from Google that allows you to measure how well your site is doing. It gathers information from lots of different sources to give you detailed statistics about the visitors to your site. It’s aimed at marketing folk rather than tech types so although it seems initially daunting, given a little time you’ll find yourself becoming more familiar with the inofmation that it contains and how to use it to your advantage.

If you have access to your website files you can set up Analytics very easily. If you don’t have access you can get us or your web developer to do it for you. All you need is a Google account this will give you access to a unique tracking code. This is added to your website, which allows Google to begin tracking. Go to www.google.com/analytics to get started.

Before you begin always check the date range before you start to analyse your site’s reports. It will stay the same and usually be the most recent month unless you change it. You can also compare data using this tool and see the difference between visits from the previous month or any other time frame you wish.

Google Analytics Date Range

Google Analytics Comparison

The left-hand navigation menu is where you’ll find your way around. The Dashboard is a great place to start with easy to interpret pie charts and graphs.
Google Analytics Menu

Real-time reports will show you what’s going on on your site right now. A good indicator of whether it’s working is seeing your visit to the site when you test it.

Intelligence Events is where you monitor changes in traffic patterns. You can have Google alert you if there are unusual changes in your site traffic. To create a custom one click on the Custom Alert tab. For example you could create one to tell you if your site received no traffic in a 24 hour period. That could act as a strong indicator that something was wrong.

Shortcuts makes it easy for you to save your favourite settings and return to them with just one click. Any setting that you apply stays in place until you manually change the settings. You’ll find the Shortcut button at the top of the page within each section just under the main heading.

Audience will tell you information about who is visiting your site. Geographically where they’re from and what kind of hardware they use to view your site.

Acquisition is used to compare traffic from different sources like search and email. Have a look at things like Average Time on Page so you can understand of your different sources of traffic are actually sticking around.

Behaviour will tell you how people interact with your content. For example you can monitor your site speed and see how that affects conversion rates. You can also get information on how people are using different interactive elements like Flash.

Conversions is where you can set up different types of tracking. You can do this using code snippets, provided by Google. For example Ecommerce tracking will collect transaction data like product sales and billing locations.

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