Analytics: the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics
Basically, analytics is a what you look at to get any statistical information about your site. The way that we will focus on it here is by looking specifically at how analytics can be used in regards to personal, or small business, websites. To do this we will be using the free Google Analytics software.
Setting up your account:
To access this, you need to open up an internet browser to the google server. Then search for Google Analytics. This will be found at analytics.google.com. Once here, click on the Sign Up tab on the right side of the screen.
The tab will then bring you to a page where you will fill in some information about your website. Once complete, click the Get Tracking ID button on the bottom left side of the page.
Then a terms a service box will pop up outlining the terms for your area. Accept these terms to continue.
Now that you have accepted the terms of service you will be brought to a page that has your tracking ID. Note that if you are using a third-party site such as WordPress, there may be additional steps you need to take through that sight itself.
Navigating Google Analytics:
Now that you have an account set up, let’s look at how to access some of the important basics. The things that we will be covering are audience information, acquisition, and behavior. Let’s get started.
Look at the left side of your screen and select Audience from the Reports panel. When you select this, more options will appear as a drop down. From this list, select overview. The main things to focus on when first starting off in this section would be page views and users.
Page views will tell you the total number of times that anyone has viewed your page. Note that this will count the same person visiting your page every time that they do. Therefore, numbers from this, while accurate, may potentially be misleading.
Users on the other hand, will simply tell you the number of people that have been to your page. This number does not include multiple visits from the same person. Because of this, many people prefer to look at this when determining how big of a reach their site has.
Next, we will move on to acquisition. This again will be found by looking at the left side of your screen and scrolling down in your Reports panel. Again, after clicking on this you should select overview.
Here you will see charts and data concerning channels. Channels are the various ways that your users are getting to your site. Examples of these would be searching, links, through other sites, social media, and so on.
This is important to know when starting off as a business because it helps you know where your audience is coming from. This then tells you what areas to focus more of your energy on and what places you should perhaps disregard.
The final sections of analytics we will be looking in to is behavior. Once again, this can be found on the left side of your screen by scrolling down under the Reports panel. After clicking on behavior, we are going to, one last time, click on overview. The main things that we will want to pay attention to on this page when starting out is page views and the amount of time spent on page.
Page views will tell you how many times specific pages within your website are viewed. This will let you know which pages are the most popular and should perhaps be boosted in your site to appear first. It will also allow you to see which pages get fewer views, which can indicate either an unpopular content choice, or can show that you need to put more time and thought into the design and content of that page.
The other important thing to focus on would be the time spent on pages. This will tell you how long viewers actually spent looking at specific pages. Again, this will show you which pages are more popular and which are not. If a page appears to have viewers spending a lot more time on it, you may want to take another look at it and consider revising the page. The goal is to make sure that viewers spend a lot of time on the page because they want to, not because they can’t find what they need.
Clearly there is a lot that you can tell by looking at you websites analytics, and Google Analytics is a good place to start. We have only scratched the surface so far, and I am certainly no expert, so please feel free to watch the following video or visit one of the sites listed to learn more!