Web Analytics 101


Web analytics allow you to track how many people visited your site, how long they stayed and what they did there.  If you work in an industry that is even remotely integrated with the web, then you’ve inevitably heard people talking about web analytics.


Want to know how people get to your site?  Use analytics.  Want to figure out where in the process of exploring your site, they lose interest and leave?  Analytics can help you figure it out.  Want to know where people get stuck in your sales funnel?  Once again, analytics can help shine a light on that.

In other words, the way you should use web analytics is not to count site visitors, but to gather actionable data to help you make informed marketing, design and content decisions for your site.

A Deeper Dive

As you might imagine, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of web analytics options out there.  Some popular ones are Google AnalyticsOmnitureChartbeat and KISSmetrics.  To learn how they all work from a technical viewpoint, check out our tech term about tracking pixels.

Since Google Analytics is free, it’s a great place to start.  Even though we also use Chartbeat, Google Analytics is our primary tool here at Skillcrush for determining if we are meeting our goals and best serving our users.

Below is a breakdown of the basic features of Google Analytics to get you started.  We promise to cover more complex topics like goal setting and funnels in a future post.

Visits:  Visits are exactly what you think they are, visits to your website.  When a person comes to your website, they are assigned a particular code that is used to track them.  Tracking visits over time is a good way to gauge if your marketing strategy is working.  Do you have more visits this week than last week?  How many pages does your average user look at when they visit your site?  Are there certain devices that are used to access your site more frequently than others?

Behavior:  Want to know if your latest advertising campaign is achieving your goal of getting new users to your site?  The Behavior feature makes it easy to figure out whether you are attracting new visitors or if most everyone is a repeat-visitor.  You can look at the percentage of new versus existing users over time and see how it changes.  You can also track how often users visit your site and how much time they tend to spend on it.

Visitor Flow:  This feature allows you to track how people maneuver through your site.  Are they coming in through the home page or via a particular article?  What are they doing once they get to the site?  Is there a particular section of your site where they all tend to end up?

Traffic Sources:  Google Analytics tracks traffic from a range of sources, including search engines, social media, display advertising and email marketing.  Want to know if that content partnership that you struck with Forbes is performing?  Are people tweeting about you?  Use Traffic Sources to find out.

Content:  The content section provides detailed information on how users are viewing and interacting with content on your site.  This is where you can see things like total page views, bounce rates (the percentage of visitors coming to your site who only visit a single page), site speed (how long it takes a page to load on various browsers) and also track what pages are doing the best.  You can also generate a report that shows how users interact with the links on a single page, which can help you better understand the visitor flow patterns.

Now Try This

  1. Sign up for a Google Analytics account.
  2. Add the Google Analytics script to your website.  Read how to do this on a regular site, on WordPress and on Tumblr.
  3. Give Google Analytics a day to start tracking data.
  4. Wait until tomorrow, and then start using all of this new data to make informed changes to your site that will make your users happy, drive traffic and increase your revenues!

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Skillcrush

Skillcrush, your ‘how to get started guide to tech.’ You know that mastering technology is key to future success. Increase your tech know-how in collaborative online classes with real-live instructors there to help.

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