A Guide to Google Analytics


Google Analytics is a great (and free) tool for measuring website metrics. You won’t find a better tool out there that won’t charge you a fee for their services.

I’ve written this post as a resource for clients and non clients alike, to provide the basics of navigating Google Analytics and getting the most out of the software.

This post assumes that you have the necessary analytics code installed on your site and is correctly capturing data. If you do not have the code installed, here’s the Google Analytics installation instructions. If you are unsure, here’s how to do a quick check.

  1. Navigate to your website
  2. Click “view” from the menu and “view source”
  3. With the view source window open, press Ctrl F (windows) to open the find window
  4. Type “google-analytics.com”. If you find that in your code, then its likely you have Google Analytics installed. Although this won’t check if its installed correctly

With that said, lets get on with the Guide to Google Analytics…

Accessing Your Website Analytics

Visit Google.com and sign in via the link in the top right hand corner. Enter your login information. Once logged in you will need to click the “Analytics” button to access your website account “Dashboard” and view your stats.

The Google Dashboard is essentially a summary of your web metrics. Look at it as your web metrics homepage. The following sections will explain the main features of the tabs located in the left hand column of your Dashboard page. Topics covered are: Visitors; Traffic Sources; Content and Goals.

Visitors Overview

The first tab covers statistics that relevant to your visitors. It answers questions like, how many people visited my website? etc. Take a look at the date range to the top right of the screen. This can be changed to show stats for a different date range by clicking the gray arrow to the right of the last date. The default is set for the past 30 days. Note: This date range setting is applicable to all metrics from the dashboard.

The Visitor graph display provides a visual look at your traffic trends.

The following information displays numeric figures relating to your website visitors during the time period specified above. Here’s what they mean:

Visits: Total number of all visits to the site

Absolute Visitors: Total number of “unique visitors” to the site, does not include visitors who viewed the site more than once

Pageviews: Total number of pages viewed by all visitors

Average Pageviews: Average number of pages viewed per visitor

Time on Site: Average amount of time spent on the site by all visitors

Bounce Rate: Percentage of web visitors who only viewed one page

New Visits: Percentage of visitors who were visiting the site for the first time

Each of the breakdown figures above are clickable for more detail.

The next section of the Visitors area is “Visitor Segmentation”. This is basically a browsable area of more information based on user location, operating systems, languages etc. Click the links in this section for details.

The bottom of the page features the “Technical Profiles” of the hardware used to access your site, such as browsers used and connection speeds. This particularly important when designing your website for cross browser compatibility. Again, the information is clickable for details.

Traffic Sources

In this section you can learn about where your visitors came from and how they found you.

The first part features numeric metrics and a pie chart to visually show you the sources of your traffic.

Direct Traffic: Visitors to your site who got there directly by entering your url in the browser address bar. These visitors may have got your url from printed literature of clicked a link in an email

Referring Sites: Visitors who clicked a link on another website that sent them to your website

Search Engines: Visitors who found your site after performing a search on a search engine website like Google.

The “Top Traffic Sources” section provides a breakdown of the search engines and other sites that linked visitors to your site and includes the keywords that they used to find you.

The Traffic Sources section is a great tool to use when determining the best methods to optimize your website for search engines (SEO).

Content

Here you learn about which of your web pages were looked at the most and which pages your visitors clicked to within your site after “landing” there.

Pageviews: Total number of pages viewed on your site by all visitors

Unique Views: Total number of pages viewed by unique visitors, i.e., this would not include visitors who have been to your site before and clicked the same pages

Bounce Rate: Percentage of web visitors who only viewed one page

The following sections are clickable and provide details on navigation, optimization and click patterns as follows:

Navigation Summary: How visitors found your content

Entrance Paths: How visitors navigated through your site to get to your content

Entrance Sources: Top sources of traffic for each page

Entrance Keywords: Top keywords used to find each page

Site Overlay: A transparent overlay view of your website that visually shows you which buttons or links were clicked most.

At the bottom of the “Content” page you will find a breakdown of the number of visitors to each page of your site. The most popular being first and working down to the least popular. The top five pages are displayed here but you can click for the complete list.

Use this section to determine where to place or direct visitors to the content that you want them to see. You can also use this area to help determine why these pages are popular and replicate the format or structure for the pages that are most important.

Goals

The last section covered in this reference guide is for “Goals”. The area allows you to set up and record “goals”. Goals are records of conversions from your website. In most cases a goal could be to get your visitor to fill out a contact form, or buy a product. These goals (or conversions) can be recorded automatically by Google Analytics. You can then monitor these goals and tweak, update and restructure your website to “funnel” more conversions.

To set up a goal, follow the instructions on the “Goal Overview” page.

Conclusion

This concludes my “Google Analytics Quick Reference Guide” although, I realize that I have only scratched the surface in this guide on all you can do with Google Analytics.

Do you already use Google Analytics? What do you or don’t you like about it? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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About Sam Beamond

Sam Beamond is President of Beamond Creative, LLC and writes on Internet Marketing topics for the DDIN Journal. He is presently employed by Dennis Kirk as Internet Marketing Manager and founded the LinkedIn group, "Internet Marketing Source".

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Author-Rich-Nilsen/100001485902386 Author Rich Nilsen

    Comprehensive list. Thank you

  • http://www.internetmarketingsource.net Sam Beamond

    Thanks Rich, there’s more than this obviously, but this gives a good start for someone learning.

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