What You MUST Know About Google Analytics

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So you have a website. Perhaps you have other Internet marketing methods working for your business as well, such as a blog, a Facebook page, YouTube videos, or Google AdWords ads. This could be an effective set of marketing initiatives. Question: what would make this set of initiatives even better? Answer: information. Imagine being able to “keep score” and examine which of your marketing efforts are paying off and which aren’t. Having a way to track results is invaluable. After all, why keep doing something if it isn’t getting the desired results? And why not double-up on the things that are working well? The best way to get results for your marketing efforts is to use an analytics platform, such as Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a free service intended to give you important information related to your website. It tells you how many visitors you receive, where those visitors were referred from (such as your Facebook page, a particular blog post, or an AdWords ad), how much time visitors spend on your page, and a host of other information. Google Analytics is such a large and robust platform that it can deliver data that is segmented, filtered, and customized only for the things you want to know about your website visitors. If you have an ecommerce website, using Google Analytics can be the linchpin for making your business a success. The information you get from Analytics is like the information an airline pilot gets when he looks at his gauges. That information tells the pilot the direction he is going in, and other key information he needs to decide whether he is on course. If he makes a change, the gauges show him the various results and ramifications that came from that change. In the same way, Google Analytics gives you the key data you need to guide the direction of your marketing efforts and shows you the results and ramifications that come from new moves and changes.

The field of analytics has become very sophisticated in recent years. Website analytics is an industry all its own, with researchers and experts constantly finding ways to learn more about the people who visit certain websites and the actions they take while there. Professional marketers always need to be testing new designs, new slogans, new logos, new promotions, etc. If there is one thing that marketing researchers have learned well, it’s that small (even tiny) changes to seemingly insignificant parts of an ad can significantly alter the response of potential customers. The field of analytics lets marketers test different elements of web pages to find out which perform better.

Should you use Google Analytics for your business?

If you have a website for business, then yes, you should use Google Analytics. Even if you have a very small business without much website traffic, you should still use it. Why, you ask? Because it’s free, it’s not that difficult to set up, and it will definitely give you useful information. Although there can be a learning curve for some of the terminology and concepts involved, it is still fairly simple to take a glance and understand the basics. It’s kind of a “no-lose” proposition.

Features of Google Analytics

  • Learn how many visitors you get on each page of your site.
  • Learn how much time your visitors spend on your pages.
  • Learn the “bounce rate,” or the rate at which people quickly leave your page without spending more than a few seconds on it.
  • Link with Google AdWords for data to help guide your AdWords campaigns.
  • View extensive reporting of traffic sources. Find out which of your advertising methods is generating the most visitors to your website.
  • Learn about the devices people are using to view your web pages.
  • Define “goals” and learn the rate at which you are succeeding with your visitors. Various types of goals can be set, including the visitor viewing a particular page on your site, viewing a video, submitting their email address, spending a specified amount of time on your site, or viewing a specified number of pages.
  • Link your Analytics account to Google Search Console, (a.k.a., Google Webmaster Tools).
  • Track the success of your email marketing campaigns by knowing how many of the emails lead to a visit to your website, and possibly some action after that – such as a purchase or other goal.
  • Learn which of your web pages is the most frequently visited.
  • Apply “remarketing” techniques, which means setting up special ads that will only be displayed to people who have already visited your website.
  • Learn which keywords bring the most traffic to your website.
  • Set up reports to be sent to you automatically by email on a scheduled basis that you choose.

As I mentioned above, Google Analytics is very robust. This list of features only scratches the surface of what it can do. Simply put, if you have a website for business, you should use Google Analytics. Also, the more time and money you invest into Internet marketing, the more you should integrate the various features of Analytics to help you measure the success of your investments. Tracking the results of specific efforts is a key part of marketing success. Don’t fly blind.

How is Google Analytics different from Google Search Console?

Although there is some overlap in the services provided by Google Analytics and Google Search Console, there are significant differences in the two services. Google Search Console is primarily meant to inform you about data that relates to the relationship between your site, the Googlebot, and the Google search engine. Analytics is meant to give you a much wider range of data that can show various types of activity on your website, where that activity and traffic originates from, and more. It is best to sign up for both (remember, they are free) and then link the accounts together.

Here is a summary of each service to give you an overview of the differences:

Google Analytics tells you: The number of visitors, the number of new visitors compared to returning visitors, which pages are most popular with your visitors, data related to your specified goals, extensive information about the sources of your website traffic, information about the devices people are using to view your pages, and more.

Google Search Console tells you: Crawling errors that may have occurred when the Googlebot attempted to crawl your site, information about search queries that lead to your pages being displayed in Google search results, information about malware that might appear on your site, HTML errors on your site, and more.

How do you start using Google Analytics?

Google Analytics functions from a JavaScript tracking code that is put into the source code of your web pages. This code is not visible to visitors of your website. It only gets noticed by the computers that serve and load your web pages. Through this tracking code, Google Analytics is able to monitor the activity on your website.

To start using Google Analytics for your website, follow these steps:

  1. Go to google.com/analytics/ and sign up for an account.
  2. Set up account properties.
  3. Set up the tracking code. During the setup process, GA will give you the tracking code you will need to attach to your web pages. Within the source code of your web pages, the tracking code should be placed just before the </head> tag.*

Google Analytics will then begin tracking activity on every web page on your site that has the tracking code installed.

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See "The Internet Marketing Strategy Book" by Barry Abraham

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Barry Abraham is the author of "The Internet Marketing Strategy Book."  This is a 10-chapter book that gives an easy-to-understand overview of current Internet marketing opportunities.

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