Using Google Analytics on Your Business Website - dummies

Using Google Analytics on Your Business Website

By Jan Zimmerman

Google Analytics is an excellent free analytics tool for website owners. By April 2011, W3Techs reported that almost half of all websites use this tool to monitor site activity. The upsides for Google Analytics are obvious:

  • It’s free.

  • It allows more in-depth analysis than most of the other free statistical packages.

  • You don’t need a paid AdWords campaign to take advantage of it.

But Google Analytics also has a few downsides:

  • You can easily drown in data and become so paralyzed by information that you don’t take action.

  • It allows less in-depth analysis or audience segmentation than the large, high-end solutions.

  • You have to tag every page of your site with a small piece of code that Google supplies.

Completing the tagging task isn’t as bad as it sounds. If you use a server-side include (SSI) file or a template, you can place the Analytics code just once and it then appears on all pages. For more information on this topic, see Web Analytics For Dummies, by Pedro Sostre and Jennifer LeClaire (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

Like all other statistical packages, Google Analytics allows you to see your traffic, pages per visit, and referrers. Unlike many other low-end packages, you can easily set specific time frames, review time-onsite, and see paths through the site.

Analytics integrates easily with Google AdWords. By combining performance reports, for example, you can see how paid search terms correlate with paths through the site or how landing page characteristics may predict which users will take advantage of a special offer in your ad.

Web analytics, from Google or anywhere else, are valuable only if you use them to improve the users’ experience on your site and your bottom line.