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Tracking Website Performance with Google Analytics

A General Overview on How to Use Google to Your Advantage

 

One of the many useful tools that Google offers is their analytical tool that measures and tracks visitors and pageviews to your website. Viewable at http://analytics.google.com, anyone that has a Google account can quickly and easily sign up for Google Analytics.

Once you submit your website address into Google Analytics, a script is automatically generated. Using this script, the webmaster can easily add it on each page, right before the tag in the HTML coding. It is important that each page of the website gets this script on it, as this is how Google receives the data. For those who control multiple websites, there is the ability to put multiple websites on the same profile, as well as the ability to compare the performance of one website to another website.

When viewing the reports on Google Analytics, there are many options, as well as a plethora of data available, all for free.

By default, the first report that comes up is the ‘Dashboard’. This is a summary of the website report. It shows the number of visitors and pageviews, as well as an overview of Traffic Sources, where the visits came from and what pages were visited.

The upper-right corner on each page as you go through the Google Analytics report shows the date range that the data is being pulled for. By simply clicking on the drop-down arrow, it opens up a calendar. From here the user can simply click on a start and end date to make a customized date range.

Visitors Overview:

The key statistics from this page are the number of visits, how many of them are unique (this is determined by the recording of IP addresses as visitors come and go), the total number of pageviews and the average pageviews that each visit produced.

This section also provides a breakdown of connection speed and what browser the visitor was using. For web developers, this can play an important role when websites are being tested for compatibility. If the majority of viewers are using Dial-up, for example, a less graphic-intense website might be a more preferred option when redesigning the website.

The Map Overlay tab shows what country, state and city particular visits came from. This is beneficial in knowing where your visits are coming from. If you are operating a small business, this may be useful in determining where there is demand to expand to.

Traffic Sources:

This section is useful as it displays how visitors are getting to your website. Not only will it break the visits down by direct traffic, referring websites and search engines, but it will also break down what the referring websites are and what search engines in particular generated traffic. Knowing what referring websites are driving traffic to your website can help you recognize who is promoting your website.

In addition, the visits from search engines are then broken down into what the keywords in the searches were that drove people to the website. This can help web developers know what meta tags are working and which ones may need to be revised.

Content Overview:

This section shows the number of pageviews for the website, as well as how many of those pageviews were unique. The most useful portion of this section is the breakdown of what pages were visited and how many times they were visited. It also shows how much time was spent on each page, which may show how much more one page is focused on over others. For those who want to go beyond these simple tasks, it also allows users to see entrance paths, as well as entrance sources.

Reports can be exported as PDF files, which can be saved, e-mailed to clients, and printed. The abilities and control that Google Analytics provides web developers is something that everyone who operates a website should take advantage of, as the wonderful price of free means there is nothing to lose.

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