Google Analytics is often something that website users are aware of, but what is it, and how can it be used to help improve your online presence?
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google, which provides insight into user behaviour on your website. The Google Analytics dashboard provides a wide range of reports which can be used to understand how your customers have found your site.
What information does Google Analytics provide?
Simply put, not all of the information that is available would fit in one blog post, there is so much to delve into! However, key points are:
- User search terms (keywords, descriptions)
- User journeys and behaviours, such as the flow of pages that they have visited. This can tie into campaigns that can be created, useful if you would like someone to land on your homepage, view the ‘about’ page on your site, and then use the ‘contact’ page to submit an enquiry. This is called a goal, and each time the goal has been met, this will be recorded.
- Demographic details of your users, including age groups, gender, hobbies and interests. This allows you to focus on specific content of your website if you receive high levels of traffic from users of a specific interest.
- Realtime stats for users actively using your site at the time of having the dashboard open. You are able to see the number of visitors on your site, the a summary of whether they are using a desktop or mobile type of device, and also the page(s) that are being viewed. This is very useful if you have recently published new content, or are running a campaign on social media.
How do I get started with Google Analytics?
To get started with Google Analytics, you will need to point your browser to google.co.uk/analytics. If you do not already have an existing Google account, you will be required to register.
Google Analytics works by providing you with a tracking ID which is embedded within your website. This code needs to be embedded within every page of your website that you wish to track. For many modern websites that use a Content Management System, the code will only need to be populated in one place.
The tracking code works by installing a cookie onto the users machine, allowing usage and behaviour information to be collected. The cookie which is installed lasts for 2 years, unless of course the user clears their browser cache and removes it. This is one of the methods that Google uses to determine whether a visitor to your site is a new visitor or returning visitor.
How can I take advantage visitor insight?
If you have an understanding of how visitors are finding your website, this means that you can identify whether this matches the target audience that you are trying to attract, or, whether you are attracting more visits from target audiences that you had perhaps not previously considered.
If you have a number multiple pages or blog posts that attract high volumes of traffic and attention, you can identify what has made these successful, and use the same techniques for future content. We already know that Google Search Engine ranking and positioning is partially based on how truthful and popular content is. If you identify the content on your site that is popular, you can start to promote it further and use this insight to improve your search engine positioning.
Mentioning Google Analytics within your site policies