Google Analytics Overview
March 16, 2012
Google Analytics is a free service from Google that allows any website to track visits, pageviews, referring websites, Google keywords, and many other stats. It is easy to set up and provides valuable information about how you people find your website and use your website. It involves a small amount of HTML coding, but it's well worth it.
The Dashboard. Your first view of Google Analytics shows a graph of usage over the past month.
What you get with Google Analytics
See www.google.com/analytics/ for in-depth descriptions of features and lots of advice on adding it to your site. The implementation can be very simple, with options for making it more complex. But at its core, Google Analytics provides the basic data outlined at left.
Where Are Your Visitors From? Map overlays show where visitors are coming from, from a global perspective all the way down to a local level.
What's the Point? How Would I Use the Info?
You will almost certainly be surprised by the data you get from Google Analytics. On the Special Olympics International website, the reports are used to identify pages that are most popular and, using click data, improve the performance of the pages. That means site visitors doing more of what you want them to do.
It also helps to guide where to put your scarce resources. If you have the choice of updating pages that get a lot of traffic versus ones that don't, you need to know which are the key pages.
It also helps to know where traffic is coming from. From February 2010 to February 2011, the number of referalls to the Special Olympics International site from Facebook rose dramatically. That's evidence of a shift in online behavior and an indicator of where to focus attention.
Language and Browser Information
When people visit your website, they present information about what language they are using on their computer. That info is quite valuable if you are considering offering content in more than one language.
Similarly, Google Analytics can tell you how many people visited your site from a mobile device. Although about 3 percent of visitors to SpecialOlympics.org used a mobile device in the first quarter of 2011, 15 percent of visitors to R-word.org came in on mobile devices.
How to Get Set Up
The top thing you need to know is that you need to be able to add the Google Analytics tracking code to every page of your site. That's often a lot easier than it sounds because many sites have a footer that appears on every page.
You also need to know how to cut and paste the tracking code into your site's HTML. Not too hard, of course, but you need to know how not to mess things up.
Once you are familiar with what Google Analytics offers and feel up to the task of adding the code (or having someone else add it for you), you can set up your Google Analytics account.
Check out the Google Analytics site. These pages are particularly helpful: