What is analytics?
When we refer to ‘analytics’, what we’re actually talking about, in its simplest sense, is the metrics and data collected about the activities of our website visitors. Analytics really is just the information resulting from the collection and analysis of this data. ‘Google Analytics’ is a specific tool designed to be used with websites, apps and other online tools. There are other web analytic providers, but Google Analytics is arguably the most commonly known (and it’s free).
Google Analytics can tell you a wealth of information that will help you understand the behaviour of your website’s visitors, where they come from, what they do while they’re on your website, and at what point on your site they leave.
What can Google Analytics tell you?
Literally, way too much to get into here! But there are a few things that I’d suggest you probably should be keeping an eye on. While the following list is far from exhaustive, it’s designed to get you started – so if you’re not overly confident on Google Analytics, perhaps check out these reports and you’ll start to scratch the surface of what it can tell you about your website, your visitors and what they’re up to.
[highlight background=”#FF6757″ color=”#ffffff”]Now, before I go any further, and I want to be really clear about this – even if you think that you’re not going to be playing with Google Analytics at this point of your business…..install it now! You see, if you wait until you think you may want to look, you’ll have nothing there; but if you install it now, even if you’re not going to look – you’ll have all that lovely data waiting for you. So, please get it on your site![/highlight]
How do I install Google Analytics?
The process for this
may will differ depending on what kind (i.e. which software your website is based on) of website you have. If you have a WordPress site, there are some easy-to-use plugins available – do a quick search and grab one. Then head over to https://www.google.com/analytics and register for a new account – once you’ve followed the prompts, you’ll be presented with a Tracking ID and Tracking Code – your plugin will prompt you for one of these, copy and paste and bob’s your uncle.
If you want to be smart about it, you can deploy Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your site. This creates a ‘back door’ for codes like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Twitter Pixel etc. so once you’ve installed GTM on your website, you can just copy and paste the code for Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel into GTM and it handles it for you, so you don’t have to keep making those types of changes in your actual site. This is especially useful for those of you who have a web designer/developer who still ‘maintains’ your site for you. Get them to pop in the GTM code, and then you add things with a simple copy and paste from now on.
Which Google Analytics reports should I be looking at?
Ok, in no particular order. Here’s what I think you should be checking out –
[icon_box title=”Mobile Overview” icon=”icon-mobile” icon_position=”left” border=”0″]We know that internet users are changing their behaviour with devices, and are now using mobile devices beyond our expectations. Quite often these days, the mobile device (smartphone or tablet) is the device of choice for more than 50% of users. What this means in real terms is that your website needs to be mobile-friendly.[/icon_box]If Google is potentially driving you traffic (i.e. if users are searching for you, your product or service using Google) – you should really care about mobile responsiveness if you have visits from mobile devices. You can check that here.
[icon_box title=”Goal Flow” icon=”icon-flow-cascade” icon_position=”left” border=”0″]This report replies on your having actually created Goals in your Google Analytics. Goals are a way of telling Google Analytics what your desired conversion is – do you want people to click on something, spend a certain amount of time on the site or visit a certain page having been to another page – if you have set goals (⚙ Admin > ‘View section’ > ? Goals), this report show you how that goal is being completed.Where are people coming from, where do they go and at which point of the funnel do they drop out.[/icon_box]
[icon_box title=”Traffic Acquisition” icon=”icon-traffic-cone” icon_position=”left” border=”0″]Knowing that poeple are visiting the site is one thing, but knowing where they’ve come from is super-helpful. In this report, you’ll see which channels are driving the most traffic.[/icon_box]
You’ll be able to push this information back into your marketing plan and make sure that you’re focussing the right amount of energy in the right area of your business/marketing.
[icon_box title=”New Vs. Returning Visitor” icon=”icon-users” icon_position=”left” border=”0″ ]Ok, so we have a pretty good idea about how many people are coming to the site and what devices they’re using. We even know whether they’re searching for us, or coming from social media. But what about whether they’re new visitors or whether they’ve been before. That is what this aptly named report will explain.[/icon_box]
Just like with practically any business, new customers are great – but repeat custom is what we’re hoping for – in the interwebnet world, it’s the same thing. If people are coming back to your site, you’re doing something right!
[icon_box title=”Landing Pages” icon=”icon-address” icon_position=”left” border=”0″ ]A landing page is the entry point of your website – and it’s not also your homepage. Depending on what your prospective visitors are typing into Google will influence which page they’re being taken to; and if they’re coming from social media, they could be clicking any link that’s floating around (we bring a lot of users because of our blog, they come in and ‘land’ on the actual blog post).[/icon_box]
Knowing which door into your site people are using will help you know where you should be placing your call to actions. As you can see from this example, while the most popular landing page is the homepage (represented by a “/”) with 31%, the article we have called What is Klout and what does my Klout Score mean? brings up second place with a fairly impressive 13%
How do I know if Google Analytics is running correctly on my site?
If the tracking code doesn’t appear on each page, or if it isn’t firing (doesn’t load/track), then Google Analytics isn’t going to work properly (because it won’t see what’s happening). A simple test for this is Google Tag Assistant. This free add-on for the Google Chrome browser allows you to check whether there are any tags being fired on a site (any site, incidentally). Enabled the add-on and check your site, as you navigate around your own website you’ll be able to see whether the tag is firing or not.
As you can see in this example, Google Tag Manager is firing, and through that Google Analytics is also.
So if you haven’t already, go ahead and get analytics set up on your website and start enjoying the advantage of working with the power of Google Analytics empowering you to know what’s really happening on your site.