Anyone who has put time, effort and money into a website wants it to be successful. One universal metric of website success is the amount of traffic it receives, though there are other measurements that can reveal more in-depth information. A website dedicated to selling a product or service, for example, can be measured according to how many people complete purchases while an informational website or blog will primarily measure its success based on how many ads it serves or how many users subscribe to the site’s feed or email newsletter.
Obtaining basic traffic information is a very straight-forward process, but getting the more in-depth information that can really help a website gain focus and zero in on its most effective practices will take some work. Luckily, Google offers a free service, Google Analytics (GA) to make that information easier to collect and sort. After setting up a GA account, a user must add special code, provided by Google, to each page they want to track. Once all of that is done and enough time has passed for a sufficient amount of data to be collected, the user can sort through the data to discover trends and traffic information that will help them refine their website design to encourage the most profitable actions. The basics of the process are easy enough for most people to set up, but those with an IT degree will generally be able to go more in-depth with the process and utilize the tools more efficiently.
The first step of setting up GA for a site is to get a Google account. This can be done from the Google Analytics home page. After setting up this account, the user will have to create a free Google Analytics account, which they can share with other users, allowing them to work with peers or contractors. This allows GA users to share data with others without giving out access to their entire Google account. When creating a new profile for a website, the user will have to enter a name for the profile, the domain and the time zone. After this, the user is allowed to choose whether or not they will share their information with third parties, such as Google’s AdSense, AdWords or Webmaster Tools.
Google doesn’t instantly know all traffic data for a website when a user signs up for GA, so more work needs to be done before reports can be generated. When a user sets up GA, they have to tell it whether they will be tracking a single domain, multiple top-level domains or multiple subdomains. They must also choose whether or not to link their AdWords accounts, which will give them advanced AdWords campaign tracking. More advanced capabilities like mobile site tracking are available if users require them. After telling GA what types of sites they wish to track, Google will provide the user with code for a special tracking script to be placed before the closing of the head tag on each page that needs to be tracked. This code must remain exactly the same as any changes could eliminate its ability to properly track the page.
Making Sense of it All
When the tracking code is in place on each page, GA will start tracking traffic, return visitors, bounce rates, click through rate (CTR), conversions and virtually any other information a website owner may want to know about his or her traffic. Site referral data can be especially useful if the user is purchasing ad space on specific websites, because the user will be able to view which websites bring the most traffic. Google AdWords integration can reveal impressions, cost, CTR, return on investment (ROI) and margin, all of which can reveal top performing campaigns and can help the user target his or her campaigns more effectively. Standard site tracking includes almost any information the website owner might want concerning the site traffic, including overall traffic, bounce rate, conversions, and CTR. GA helps users track their conversion funnels, showing ineffective areas and giving further information on the most useful portions of their site design.
About the author:
Lindsey Paho is a professional technology writer. She lives in the Indianapolis area and is currently working on her Master’s Degree.