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Gain insights into your visitors using Analytics

by on February 17, 2010
Last updated on
Google Analytics is a service provided by Google that enables webmasters, through the inclusion of a small bit of code in their website template, to gain a pretty good breakdown of their site's usage and log reporting. Beyond the basics of visits, page views, etc., the system also permits the creation of goals and funnel paths that can be created to track conversion rates for visitors performing specified tasks within the site.

The information that Analytics provides is not just for your own gratification that people visit your website; the data can help you see how effective your site is at:
  • Getting people to your site
  • Accomplishing tasks and goals
  • Tracking statistics
  • Understanding the habits of your visits
  • ... and much more
The information that your reporting system provides will tell you, quantifiably, how your site is performing, and will provide you with hints as to what can be done to improve your site.

For example, how are people finding your website? Is it by referring sites, search engines or direct traffic? What keywords are they finding you by and are you being found by phrases that you specifically want to target? What percentage of people are coming to your site and immediately leaving after the homepage? How many pages are your visitors hitting in a session and how long are they staying on the site? Are they performing the tasks that you want them to perform such as contacting you, leaving comments, or signing up to receive a newsletter?

Getting started

Google Analytics, like other Google services, uses your Gmail address as your account. Once you've signed in for the first time the system will prompt you to create a New Website Profile. This profile is based on the URL of your site so as to keep track of your site based on it's location information. Since this is your first account in Analytics you'll want to check "Add a Profile for a new domain". In the field below that fill in the complete URL for your site, including www if that's part of your site location, but remove the HTTP://. Once completed, hit "Continue".

Upon submitting, Analytics will provide you with a block of Javascript code that you'll need to highlight, copy (Ctrl+C), then paste (Ctrl+V) into your Blogger template.

After copying the code, head back to the Blogger site. Click on the "Layout" tab in the header, and then go to "Edit HTML". Remember, any time you are making changes to your template you should save a backup of your template to your computer by clicking on "Download Full Template".

Scroll to the bottom of your template code. The Analytics code that you previously copied needs to go at the bottom of your template, above the </html> tag but below the </body> tag. Once pasted into the correct location click on the "Save Template" button and you're all set.

Looking at the numbers

Each of the statistics available to you gives you insight into how successful your website is in accomplishing its tasks, but also what you need to do to improve its performance. These should not be major changes; they should be small incremental changes to see how your statistics change based on an update performed. For instance, if you change the text on your homepage to use more key words and phrases, are you noticing better search queries and more people from search engines? If you're noticing a high bounce rate, changing some of the calls to action, or maybe the phrasing of your navigation items, can often have an immediate affect on performance.

At each stage in the process record what you did and take a performance snapshot. See how your site performs for a 4 week period, then re-evaluate and repeat.

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