If you run a web site you need to know how, and how many, people use it. There are lots of ways to do this, but some are better than others…
Google analytics – brilliant!
I’m going to give Google a plug today, I think it deserves it. For a while now, we’ve been playing around with Google analytics. And what an amazingly powerful system of website performance reporting it is! Best of all, it’s free.
Most of you who own or run a website would have seen some form of web analytics software that usually comes along with your hosting plan. The most common (free) analytics packages web hosting companies offer include Webalizer and Awstats.
Webalizer and Awstats are fine for checking the basics – that is, how many people stopped by your site, where they came from, how long they stayed and what keywords they used at various search engines to find you, but that’s about it.
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Then there’s the next level up, where you’ll often pay extra (please correct me if I’m wrong):
Arguably, Webtrends is the most accurate, powerful and expensive option, with many of the major websites (globally) using the Webtrends solution.
Considering the Google analytics is free, it’s by far the best option for the rest of us!
It’s very easy to set up; it just requires you to create an account and add a small piece of code to the bottom of each page. One great feature is your ability to create your analytics account through your Google AdWords control panel, linking it to your AdWords account.
Google Analytics allows you to do all the basics, but there are several features that provide terrific insights into how people actually use your site. One feature we looked at recently was “site overlay” – where we’re able to see how people navigate your website while looking at your site! See an example below…
In the case of one particular client (a large e-commerce website in Britain), we were able to visualise the most popular products based on navigational clicks, as well as the actual revenue generated by those clicks.
It had dedicated a large amount of its home page real estate to various “specials” (which ironically weren’t receiving many clicks) so we recommended it change the home page “specials” offering to include the most popular products. This immediately increased click-throughs and revenues.
There’s way too much to go into on this humble post about all the Google analytics features available, but I do highly recommend you create an account so you can gain real insights into how people use your website.
For more information, take the Google analytics tour.
Plug, plug, plug.
Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.
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Jodie Benveniste writes: Chris – yes Google Analytics is amazing. I use it for my website. But I can’t help feel there are all these amazing features and amazing information I’m not using effectively. If you’re stuck for more blog ideas I’d love a few on how to maximise the information Google Analytic provides to achieve certain obectives, whether it be increase overall traffic or increase spend or some other objective.