The Importance of Analytics – Part of having a successful website design

Once you have your website up and running measuring your website traffic and gathering the user data available is an important step in ensuring you have a successful website design. In this article I will outline the importance of Google Analytics, however the type of information available through Google Analytics is also available by using other website analytical tools. As Google Analytics is so popular and a free tool, it makes sense to concentrate on the setup, features and data gathering available.

So, what are the main reasons for using Google Analytics? Well firstly is your website as successful as it can be? Do you know how many visitors are finding your website and where they are coming from? Did your latest marketing campaign create an increase in online traffic? Are visitors landing on the pages you expect them to? All this information and a lot more is available through Google Analytics. It is a great tool to measure your websites strengths and weaknesses.

Getting Started
Firstly you will need to create a Google account. This is free and you will just need to follow the on screen instructions at http://www.google.com/analytics/.

Analytics

Once you fill in your website details a tracking code will be generated which will need to be added into the web pages you wish to track. You will probably need your web design team to embed the code for you. If your website runs on a WordPress, Joomla or Drupal backend, there will be various plugins available which you can easily install and configure.

Viewing Your Statistics

Analytics Visitors

Once the tracking code is in place, we suggest you wait 24 hours before checking your website statistics. As mentioned in the introduction there is so much data you can extract from Google Analytics and some of it will require advanced knowledge, however these are the main metrics you will be analysing:

Visits: The number of visits to your site.

Unique Visits: Unique Visitors is the number of un-duplicated (counted only once) visitors to your website over the course of a specified time period.

Page Views: Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

Pages/Visit: This is the average number of pages viewed during a visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

% New Visits: This is an estimate of the percentage of first time visits.

Average Visit Duration: This is the average duration of a session, measured in seconds

Referring Sites: This will show you the websites that have sent visitors over to your site.

Keywords: These are the main search terms visitors are using to find and access your website. This information is vital to any Search Engine Optimisation campaign. Are visitors using the keywords you expected to access your website?  Are certain key phrases you are targeting not being used?

Top Page & Posts: This information will show you your most active and popular pages and articles. Is this what you expected? Is your services page or contact page popular? If not why? Can users find the information they are looking for?

Setting Up Goals
Setting up goals will enable you to measure how well your website is performing. You can monitor the number of pages visited, specific pages (has the visitor landed on your contact page or submitted an enquiry?), the time visitors spend on your site and you can setup specific events and actions.

Analytics Goals

Goals are set at the view level. To find a view, click Admin, then select an account, property, and a view. Click Goals, then Create a Goal. Follow the step by step flow in your account to set up a Goal. As you complete each step, click Next step to save and move on. Click Save Goal to finish. To quit the process without saving, click Cancel.

It is a good idea to use the funnel option so you can track conversions based on an anticipated user behaviour. For example you may have written a blog article and shared it on other websites and via the available social media channels. You can setup a Goal to track visitors that have visited the article and then perhaps clicked on your contact page, or submitted your contact form.

Goals are limited to 20 per reporting view. To track more than 20 Goals, create an additional view for that account property, or edit an existing Goal you don’t need anymore. You must set up Goals in your Google Analytics account before data appears in your Goal reports or any other report that provides data on Goals and Goal Conversions. Goals can’t be deleted, but you can turn a Goal off. No data is recorded when a Goal is off.

Analytics Goals Funnel

Further Reading
The following checklist (http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/setupchecklist.html) created by Google will go into each area in more detail. It is a useful resource to get started and get the most out of the statistics available.

Once you start collecting all this data, the possibilities and reporting information is endless. Check out Dreamscape Data Services, our dedicated website focusing on Data Visualisation & Reporting, Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehousing solutions. The following case study is just one example of how manipulating the data provided by Google Analytics can help your business