Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
Waiting for blog comments on one’s blog is not the way to study a blog’s success. You have to study your traffic as often as possible. The easiest and most affordable way to do so is with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service allowing bloggers and website admins to gather all they need to know about their blogs or websites in an easy to use online program.
While there are many features, there are also as many helps from Google and their support forums. There is a learning curve for those unfamiliar with online and marketing terms, but it is relatively simple to grasp. This is an overview and not a training session on any particular feature.
Setting up Google Analytics
Once you have set up a Google Account, setting up Google Analytics is easy. You can log in and create an Analytics account. It can be the name of your first site if you’d like, but each account can have a number of domains and/or sub-domains added to it.
In the setup process of adding a property (i.e. a domain) to an account, Google gives users a code with instructions of where to add it and how to test it is working once it has been added. Verification is usually pretty fast. If you have to put it in code in a WordPress or Blogger theme file, the instructions are detailed enough for any to do it. WordPress has plugins that allow bloggers to add the code within the WordPress dashboard.
What you can learn from Google Analytics
Google is going to give you a detailed view of your audience, where they came from and what they did when they got to your site. Easily find out who your visitors, how many were unique, how many visited again, how long they stayed on the page they found and how many visited another page or left your site altogether. There are so many ways to look at the data and drill down.
All data is presented in easy to understand pie charts, graphs, cross-tabs and other visual diagrams. You can look at a day or a date range. You can compare two time frames. Maybe you want to compare this month to last month, or maybe compare it to the same month last year.
Google Analytics allows for Custom Reporting but their Standard Reporting is sufficient to get started.
Improving your site analytics
To improve your site, it is best to review your Analytics reports often. Some detail is helpful to understanding if your website is sick technically from a design flaw, a problem in a form or link or if the placement of links or ads are a problem. If traffic numbers drop drastically, your reports may help you understand why. Keep tabs on search engine keywords to find out what visitors are looking for on your site.
If there is a sudden rise in traffic as well, it is a good idea to see what the cause is and make sure you are meeting the needs of your visitors so you do not lose them. Find a way to generate leads from the influx. See if you can keep the momentum going.
Analytics allows you to set goals to measure success. If you want to track if visitors are signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase you can add these actions as Business Objectives to the Goals area. Then identify the Visitor Action and include a link to the page that completes the process in the Success Measure area (contact form link, thank you page, etc.).
In addition, if you use other Google services (AdWords, AdSense and Webmaster Tools), they can easily be integrated to add data for a quick preview in your Google Analytics account.
There are a lot of free and paid tools out there to help you study site analytics, but Google is a complete resource to meet your needs.