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Analyze Your Site for Free with Google Analytics

If you want to measure how well your website is doing, but you’re on a budget, then Google Analytics is just what the doctor ordered. Available for free from the Google website, this analytics package helps you make sense of the different metrics that show how your site is performing. Google Analytics gathers, crunches, and reports data from server logs, cookie data, JavaScript, ecommerce information, and so on, so that you can make sense of all this information.

Google Analytics also generates detailed statistics about the visitors to your website. The main highlight of this program is that it’s aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew, which means it’s geared specifically towards business types, not tech types.

Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, e-mail marketing, and even digital collateral such as links within PDF documents. Google Analytics also allows you to track your landing page quality and monitors your conversions. Remember, conversions don’t always mean sales. This program can track whether users are viewing the page you want them to.

Google Analytics is a free analytics program.
Google Analytics is a free analytics program.

You can also use Google Analytics to determine which of your ads are performing (when used in conjunction with Google AdWords, Google’s Pay-Per-Click advertising program). Google Analytics also provides shorthand information for the casual user and much more in-depth info for those who are a little more versed in web analytics.

The dashboard for Google Analytics provides at-a-glance reporting on your site.
The dashboard for Google Analytics provides at-a-glance reporting on your site.

Google Analytics works through the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC). The GATC is a snippet of JavaScript code that the user adds onto every page of their website. This code acts as a beacon, collecting anonymous visitor data and sending it back to Google data collection servers for processing. Data processing takes place hourly, although it can be three to four hours before you can get your data back. The Google Analytics Dashboard (shown in the above figure) can give you information at a glance about traffic, site usage, and traffic sources, among many others.

The GATC also sets first party cookies on each visitor's computer. Cookies are parcels of text that are used to track, authenticate, and maintain specific information about users. The cookies are used to store anonymous information such as whether the user has been to the site before (new or returning visitor), what the timestamp of the current visit is, and where the user came from.

Google Analytics is very easy to install on your website. They provide HTML code snippets that you can copy and paste into your page through the Global element, which means that the code snippet applies to every page across your site, and you won’t have to go in and add it by hand, unless you’re using goal tracking or conversion tracking code.

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