A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a vast and powerful tool that allows you to track the effectiveness of your website in a range of invaluable ways. You can see where web-users enter and exit, what paths they follow, and where they come from in the first place. Information garnered via Google Analytics allows you to break your site into specific components, establishing which are most effective and which need work. If your business relies on the Internet - whether for making sales, providing clients with information or as a marketing tool - then Google Analytics is for you.
Initially introduced to developers, Google Analytics is now an indispensable tool for anyone engaged with the web as a marketing tool. You have specific goals for your site - whether it's sales, data entry or subscription. Google Analytics can help you meet those goals. Once you have a clear understanding of how web users navigate your site, you can help to steer them in the right direction. Effective internet marketing is about providing an online service in the most intuitive way. Whether this means organizing your website to provide information quickly or simply providing clearer directions from product to checkout depends on your marketing goals.
Anyone can set up a Google Analytics account. It’s free, easy to use and there is plenty of great information to help you take your first steps. Check out this analytics guide for small businesses for a thorough Analytics run through, but in the meantime, read on to get started.
What To Track
One of the more intimidating aspects of setting up a GA account is the sheer amount of information analytics can provide. It’s a vast and sprawling application and the key to putting it to good use is to know which statistics are most important to you and your site. Here are a few great places to start, particularly for those with marketing strategies in mind.
- Bounce Rates
Each page of your site will have a ‘bounce rate:’ the percentage of visitors who leave without clicking on any further links. There are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, they were misdirected and yours was not the site they were looking for, in which case you might want to investigate which search terms most frequently lead users to your site and adjust your content to include more relevant keywords—analytics can also provide helpful statistics on keywords.
Secondly, the site does not provide clear direction. Information is received too slowly or pathways to further pages/products are not effectively signposted. If this is your diagnosis, you should begin to look for creative ways to enhance the intuitive usability of each page.
A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to complete a goal for a particular site or page. For example, a user signs up for your newsletter if that's the goal of your particular page. A conversion doesn’t have to be a sale. With Google Analytics you can set the terms for your own goals and monitor the success of your site accordingly. See this beginners' guide to conversion rates for more information.
- Social Media Links
GA also allows you to see where your traffic comes from, whether it’s search engines, links on other sites or through social media channels. Social media is a powerful resource when it comes to directing more users to your site. Most businesses will have within their marketing plans a strategy targeting social media specifically. Google Analytics allows you to see how effective your current strategies are and make amends, accordingly.
Moving Forward With Customizations
Once you have the basics down, you’ll soon discover the vast potential of analytics for receiving customized data about your website, allowing you to develop a made-to-measure marketing strategy.
About the Author
Rob Toledo is a common Seattle stereotype, with a love of rain, coffee and high tech gadgets. He works at Distilled as a marketing coordinator. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo or on Google+.