Monday, June 16, 2008

Google Analytics – It Is Free

One of the many great things you get when you sign up for a free Google account is the use of Google Analytics. This tool lets you learn an amazing amount of information about the visitors to your web pages.

If you have more than one web site you are trying to track, you can set up unique analytics for each site.

The initial dashboard you get in Google analytics shows the activity by day for the past month with details for visits, page views, pages per visit, bounce rates, average time on site, percent of visitors who are new visitors.

It continues with how these visitors got to your site - for example search engine results, links from other sites, from a favorites or bookmark directly on their PC. Finally, exactly what pages were viewed and how often.

For example purposes I am going to drill down into the Map Overlay to show different levels of detail to which you have access. When I click on the Map Overlay, I get the screen below. It shows I have visitors from 32 countries and has a darker green for the countries with the most visitors.

When I ask for more detail, it will give me a text list showing the countries and the number of visitors from each.

Clicking on the specific country will give me the list of states or territories for that country. Selecting a specific state lets me see what towns or cities the visitors come from.

Clicking on this graphic gives you a text list of the cities and towns and the number of visitors from each. You can get this same information by scrolling over the image.

In Summary

To get the most from your web site you need to know the most about the experience your visitors have when they visit.

Analytics give you the ability to understand this. Believe me, the intentions you have in creating your pages is just the very first step. Probably no visitor will have the exact experience you want them to have. To get as close to that as possible you need to observe, change, observe and change until you have it right. Then keep observing because the visitors will change their behavior.

If you have a physical store - a bricks and mortar office - you do this just by watching with your own two eyes. You have to take a different approach to your web site. Analytics is that approach.

Using analytics will let you see what kind of browsers you visitors, what connection speed they have - endless details that allow you to change your pages to best represent you online.

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