Who can you call when you need inside information on your website or blog—you know, secret data such as…
- who is visiting your website
- how many times they visit
- what pages they view
- the duration time they spend on your site
- the bounce rate
- other forms of covert analysis
With a mission like that, you will want to call on the best secret agent in the website spy business—Google Analytics. Like James Bond is to the world of espionage, the name Google Analytics is fast becoming synonymous with website analytics.
Nobody does it better.
Because this tool is so easy to use and does such an effective job, over 15 million websites now use Google Analytics.
And here’s the best part… It’s free!
ARE YOU SHAKEN AND STIRRED NOW?
Google Analytics has become the well-known “go-to” agent to call when you need help fighting the arch nemesis of online marketing known as Fuzzy Website Estimations.
Let’s begin this suspenseful story of intrigue by going over how to make “initial contact” with Google Analytics and begin your mission…if you choose to accept it.
Getting Started with Google Analytics
First, go to Google Analytics.
You can see in the upper right corner that you have a choice to either sign in using an existing Google account, or you can create a new account. This is how it looks with an existing Google account.
As you can see, signing up with a Google account for the first time looks the same. You will just need to submit your email address not tied to Google.
Start at #1 and sign up for Google Analytics.
You can see above how Google shows you the process in three simple steps. 1. Sign up. 2. Get your tracking code. 3. Wait a few hours for the analytics to kick in. If you are ready, click the Sign Up button on the far right.
Here is the next step you will see…
Recently, Google Analytics began offering the more robust version of their product called Universal Analytics. This new tool does everything the original Analytics program tracks (the original is now called Classic Analytics) but includes more capabilities to help businesses understand the ways people interact with their business.
People who already use the classic service will notice a more enhanced method of sorting and displaying the analytics. Google says on their blog that Universal Analytics will provide businesses…
- Understanding how customers interact with your business across many devices and touch-points,
- Insights into the performance of your mobile apps,
- Improvements of lead generation and ROI by incorporating offline and online interactions so you can understand which channels drive the best results,
- Improved latency on your site by reducing client-side demands.
Improvements in the tracking of mobile devices and tablets seem to be the main added bonus with Universal Analytics. Since the newer Universal Analytics is free of charge as well, we recommend choosing that one for your website analytics.
Once you do that, put in your website name, URL, industry category and time zone.
Then, give your account a name, uncheck any boxes of data sharing settings you don’t want, and then click
Installing Your Google Analytics Tracking Code
You should see your own tracking code at this point. It will look similar to this:
vary _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
This code will need to be installed to your blog.
To accomplish this, see if one of the following three scenarios fits your website setup.
- Are you a wordpress user?
If WordPress.org happens to be your blogging platform, here are some different ways to complete this mission:
Do it yourself. This method should be used only if you plan to keep your theme files and code for a long time. Otherwise, changes made to the header.php will be overwritten on the existing header.php and disappear. In other words, tracking codes for Google Analytics inserted into header.php will vanish after a theme update in WordPress.
if you are still interested in doing this yourself, log in to your WordPress dashboard and click Appearance > Editor. In the editor, find your header.php and paste the code somewhere between the <head> and the </head> tags (most guides say that the code should be added just before end of the head tag, meaning just before </head>).
Select a theme that’s smooth and easy. Check to see if the wordpress theme you are using enables the tracking code to be placed inside the theme settings. If so, this is another way to get Google Analytics set up and running. Genesis themes work particularly well this way.
Plugin for your wordpress blog. A Google Analytics plugin can be used. Two that are easy to use are Google Analyticator or the Google Analytics plugin. After downloading, just insert the code to the plugin. Google Analyticator enables you to see statistics in your WordPress Admin dashboard. But Google Analytics plugin is also simple to use.
After inserting your code into the chosen method, Google Analytics will begin tracking every move made by visitors on your website.
2. Do you use a website builder?
You should find a place in your builder settings to add your Analytics ID.
3. Do you have a self-hosted website? Ask your webmaster/programmer to install the code for you. That’s the safest way to do it.
Let the Website Stakeout Begin
The real-time tool on the Google Analytics dashboard is like a hidden camera that sees the action going down as it happens. If you see your own movements showing up in real-time tool, you will know that your tracking code has been successfully implemented.
Google Analytics is fascinating once in place. If you don’t have it yet, think about how cool it would be to see…
- How many visitors are on your site in that moment of time
- The sites that referred visitors to you
- Which keywords brought the visitors
- Geographic location of each visitor
- What articles your visitors are looking at
Google Analytics is a great way to find out what days and times are best to post blog articles, as you can sit back and watch the real-time engagement after each post. Or see how each social media platform performs in generating traffic. Watch as it happens. How much fun would that be?
Let’s Look Closer at the Data
Google Analytics displays your numbers over the previous thirty days. To include today in those totals, you will need to modify the date range up in the top corner. Here are the different categories of data and what they are about:
Pageviews – Want to know how many times a particular article has been viewed? This is where to find out. A single visitor who reads your home page along with two articles will rack up a total of three pageviews.
Pages/Visits – How many pages do visitors read on average with your website or blog? Here, if each person visits your home page without clicking on another page, one page is your average.
Bounce Rate – Tying into the example above in Page/Visits, all those folks who only visit your home page, then leave, would be counted as a bounce. Not good. The lower this is, the better. Any visitor who leaves after landing on one page gets counted as a bounce.
Average Visit Duration – Now, if someone only visits your home page, but spends an hour on there, that would help this particular metric. This tallies the average length of time a person visits your website. If the duration times are long, you must be doing something right.
% New Visits – We are always wanting new visitors to our blog or website, right? This is where you can see just how many are new, and how many are repeat visitors. You probably don’t want this number to get too high. That means few are coming back to your website.
Visits – Here you will see how many times your website or blog has been visited. If one person visits fourteen times, that counts as fourteen visits.
Unique Visitors – If your grandmother visits your site ninety five times, she only gets counted as a unique visitor once. Sorry ‘bout that.
The Analytics Doesn’t Stop There
Here are some additional stats available with Google Analytics that you might find helpful.
Your audience demographics can be seen on the audience front page. This is important, as the best website spies work internationally, so this can be really useful to help your blog or website succeed. Because if a large chunk of your audience comes from Asia, for example, then you might not want to spend a lot of time writing about the real estate market in South America.
Your blog’s effectiveness translating to a mobile device is important nowadays. Audience > Mobile > Overview lets you see how many visitors are using a mobile device. No matter who you are, those numbers are bound to go up in the near future. Having a website that’s not functioning well with mobile device users can cripple your online business.
Who’s your traffic source? Google Analytics reveals how each visitor arrived at your website. Some come from Twitter. Others from Google. Facebook. Google+. Some blogs you left comments on. Guest posts. It’s good to know which sources consistently facilitate the most traffic, so then you will know where to spend your time marketing your website. You can also see the keywords used to find your website and the search engines that were used. Traffic source exposes the caliber of your SEO, incoming links, and advertising. Is your website packing heat, or shooting blanks?
Content is king, right? Well, which content on your blog is king? The Content section of Google Analytics tells you what content is getting the most reads on your site—another crucial piece of information. For example, this helps you spend less time writing about social media when the numbers show that your articles on blogging tips get a lot more readers.
You can probably imagine how having access to all of this awesome analytics can be really helpful with setting goals for your business. Well, Google Analytics just happens to include a goal setting function to help you see if you are getting close to your goals or have more to do to reach them. All growing businesses set goals. Your online business should too. Then, let Google Analytics help you.
Setting Up Your Goals
Goals provide a way for you to track specific actions visitors take on your site. For example, you might want to track how many people fill in your lead form, or how many people have purchased a product on your site. Then you would be able to analyze which traffic source (i.e. website than sends you traffic) brings in the most conversions, or which country gets you the most conversions.
Up to four sets of goals can be arranged on Google Analytics. Each set has five specific goals attached. So, for example, if you set a goal to determine who exactly is buying your product, the Super Kitchen Buddy (fictional product as example), you could then set five specific goals like:
- What percentage of buyer is female? How many are male?
- What days of the week sell the most Super Kitchen Buddy product?
- What times during the day do people purchase this product?
- Which sources provides the most number of product conversions?
- What percentage of Super Kitchen Buddy buyers also purchase additional products in their order?
Once you have your goals in place, you can then begin analyzing your results with this additionally cool feature of Google Analytics:
Create Custom Reports – Custom reports go hand in hand with analytics…makes sense, right? But not all analytics tools provide custom reports for their users, or at least not as conveniently and effectively as Google Analytics.
Here, you get custom filters that enable you to compile your data in many different ways—even add some of your own customizations to go deeper into your data to get a clearer picture of how close you are really getting to your goals.
You’ll notice that the custom reports link is found in the top left corner
Ah, now we’re talking, right? Intelligence…Spies….never mind.
Okay, so the form of “intelligence” here in this context is a little different—which is good, because analytics intelligence can really come in handy when a sudden issue arises on your website. Or you get a surprise flood of conversions on your site.
How does this work? Simply put, Google Analytics has automatic alerts built into the app. This gives you an immediate heads up when page views, time on site, visits, bounce rates, and other metrics spike, crash, or just suddenly change dramatically. As you can imagine, this would help you respond to your affected customers or visitors quickly.
Intelligence enables you to drop in and save the day when Fuzzy Website Estimations plots to foil your website’s plans.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED METRICS
If you want to empower your online business website or blog, Google Analytics provides a great secret service that will help you understand who your specific target market is and collect information that will help you make the needed adjustments to facilitate greater growth and profits.