Google Analytics

You need to know how many people have visited your website, from where, when, which pages they viewed, and for how long. That allows you to see what is working, and what should be improved. So how do you do that?

Any decent web hosting should have website statistics for you to review. These will be the most accurate of any alternate method. However, they might not be as comprehensive as others.

This is where Google Analytics comes in, It is a service that Google doesn't charge you for (at least not the "basic" version). If you don't have visitor statistics on your site, or they are very limited in what they record, then I would suggest you consider implementing Google Analytics.

We have both set up for our hosting clients. It gives the best of both worlds. One thing to be aware of is that some of the numbers will be different for the same thing. That is simply a technical limitation of Analytics that prevents it recording everything.

Another thing to bear in mind is how your Analytics account is set up. Otherwise it might actually belong to your web designer, and be difficult to gain access to and control, should circumstances change.

Having said all that, the information Analytics can provide is immense. Indeed, it can be overwhelming. It addresses your need to report on what's happening. The real challenge is in making sense of it.

For example, a high "bounce rate" is regarded as being bad. However, if it is from a sign-up or contact page, then that might not be the case.

Analytics is much, much more than a means of recording the number of visitors. It can allow you to trace the journey visitors make through your site. It can allow you to set goals, such as whether someone signed up for your newsletter, or visited your special offers page.

As with so many Google products, with such flexibility comes complication and potential confusion. There are training courses and books on using Analytics, as well as third-party add-ons. However, for most people, that is overkill.

What you really need is a "dashboard" that summarises the data that is important to you and your business. Once that has been set up, it will continue to provide you with the useful data which you need. Only under unusual circumstances should you require (someone) to delve deeper.

The conclusion is that if you don't currently have comprehensive website statistics, then Google Analytics would be a very good option. Once you have Analytics installed, it would be prudent to have it assessed by a specialist in that field, to ensure that it is tuned up so that you get the most out of it.

By Kenneth Mackay, 24th January, 2017

This is one of a series of articles that deal with common issues when promoting your business online. We hope that you found it useful. Go to our online marketing tips to see previous pieces of advice. If there are any topics that you would like covered, please let us know.

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