Just because there are so many websites these days it doesn’t mean that creating and managing your own is easy. Plenty of people get it wrong, very wrong. In fact many of my clients have come to me with horror stories of paying thousands of pounds for websites that have never returned a single penny. They say things like ‘it just doesn’t work’. Well the first thing that’s useful in this situation is some facts and figures to look at, plus a definition of what exactly they think isn’t working. There’s only tool I recommend for this job and that’s Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a must for any serious business site owner. It helps you to track all kinds of statistics related to your website, making it easier to measure where you’ve come from, benchmark where you are and predict where you’re headed.
Why look at site stats?
You’re probably aware that your site statistics are important, but sticking a hit counter on your pages isn’t going to cut it. The hit rate of your site is actually about the last statistic that you should be counting.
Proper monitoring of your statistics can tell you whether your SEO plan is working, which pages visitors are most attracted to, and whether your site navigation contains any errors. It can even help you to select the most profitable phrasing of your marketing material. Analysis of statistics is an invaluable online business process.
A secondary question naturally arises from this. Why should I use Google Analytics? The answer is simple. Google Analytics is not only incredibly easy to use and understand, it’s free! I can’t think of a better reason to use such a valuable tool.
What Google Analytics can tell you
Once you have a Google Analytics account, you can access a number of reports on your site’s traffic. While these give you a great visual representation of aspects of your traffic, it’s up to you to learn what to do with the numbers.
Some of the main things you should measure:
- Entry pages – This can help you check on where your traffic is coming from, which in turn can help you determine the effectiveness of your various online campaigns.
- Exit pages – It’s important to know whether site visitors are being turned away by something on your pages. If they don’t make it further than the first page, there’s a chance that something’s wrong.
- Conversion funnels – Many retail sites lose customers between marketing point and checkout. Monitoring conversion funnels helps you figure out where you’re going wrong.
There are plenty of other statistics, such as time-on-page, and these are equally worth paying attention to. These are the main things you want to track, although you’ll develop your own favourite analysis measurements as you get more familiar with the system. Hits are not an important factor in your site’s statistics when compared to other areas.
What you need to do
Setting up a Google Analytics account couldn’t be easier:
- Go to www.Google.com/Analytics. Create a Google account, if you don’t already have one, then click ‘Sign Up’, using your Google email address and password to sign in.
- Provide Google with your site’s address, give your account a name (make sure it’s easy to remember, you’ll be using it a lot!), and details of the site you want to monitor.
- Provide your own contact information and agree to the Terms of Service.
- Cut and paste the code you’re then given to the foot of each of your pages. The code should be put in the closing body tag of your page’s HTML code.
The only thing that you have to do after this is to sit back and wait for the statistics to come in – it’s that easy.