9. Web Analytics

In this topic, we will cover the basics of Web Analytics, focusing on Google Analytics

We will cover the following:

  • Introduction to Google Analytics
  • Google Analytics’ Key Features (What You Can Do with It)
  • Why Your Business Needs Google Analytics
  • How to Install and Set up Google Analytics (Step by Step Guide)
  • How to Use Google Analytics to Get the Most out of Your Website
  • Best Alternatives to Google Analytics Tool

Google Analytics: Introduction

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool/service provided by Google.

Today, Google Analytics has evolved to be the most widely used web analytics tool on the Internet.

Besides the free version, Google Analytics also offers two versions:

  • Google Analytics 360 Suite (formerly known as Google Analytics Premium). With a price tag of USD$150,000 / year, it is purely targeted at enterprise users, competing with Adobe Analytics (previously SiteCatalyst/Omniture). Google Analytics Premium provides higher data limits, more custom variables, a Service Level Agreement, and a dedicated support team.
  • Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, a web analytic environment that lets you gather vital user data from your Android or iOS devices.

What Can You Do with Google Analytics?

With Google Analytics, you can:

  • Keep track of your online campaigns by measuring the quality of your landing pages and their conversion rates (goals). These Goals might include lead generation, viewing/clicking of a particular page, sales, or downloading a particular file.
  • Google Analytics’ main purpose is to show high-level and user-friendly data for a casual user. More in-depth information can be analyzed in the report set.
  • The funnel visualization feature allows you to identify poorly performing pages on your website. You can identify from where your visitors came to your landing pages (referrers), how long they stayed there, and where they came from (geographical location).
  • Google Analytics also provides you with more advanced features, such as custom visitor segmentation.
  • Google Analytics e-commerce reporting can keep track of sales activities and performance of your e-commerce website. It can also display a website’s transactions, revenue generated, and many other e-commerce related metrics.
  • Google Analytics also includes Google Website Optimizer, rebranded as Google Analytics Content Experiment.

Each user can set up to 100 site profiles (each profile corresponds to one website). It is limited to sites with traffic fewer than 5 million page views per month.

Why Do You Need Google Analytics?

If you have a blog or even a static website, then you need Google Web Analytics. Why? Because it provides so many answers about your website, such as:

  • Total number of unique visitors on your site
  • Your visitor’s location (where they live)
  • If you need a mobile friendly website
  • Websites sending traffic to your website
  • Marketing strategies that drive the most traffic to your site
  • Popular pages on your website
  • Number of visitors you have converted into leads or customers
  • Where converting visitors come from and go on your website
  • How you can improve your website’s speed
  • What type of content they like on your website

There are so many additional answers you can learn through Google Analytics, but these are the most important for the majority of website owners. Now, let us look at how to install Google Analytics on your website.

How to Install Google Analytics

To install Google Analytics:

Step #1: First, you will require a Google Web Analytics account. If you have a Google account, one you used for other services, such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, then you should use that account to set up your Google Analytics. Otherwise, create a new Google account.

Tip: Do not share your Google Analytics account with anyone (web developers, SEO experts, writers/bloggers, web hosting providers, etc.).

Step #2: Set up your Google Analytics account & property

Once you have your Google Account, go to Google Analytics and click on the “Sign In” drop down link on the top right-hand side of the screen. You will be greeted with a 3-step sign up process.

Once you click on the “Sign up” button, you will have to fill out information about your website.

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. You can have up to 100 Google Analytics accounts under one Google account.
  2. Under a single Google Analytics account, you can have up to 50 websites.
  3. Under one website property, you can have up to 25 views.

If you have 1 website, you will only need one Google Analytics account with one website property.

If you have 2 websites (one for business and one for personal use), then create two accounts. Name one account “MyBusinessSite01” and the other “Personal.” Then, you will insert your business website information under the “MyBusinessSite01” account and your personal website information under the “Personal” account.

If you have many businesses (less than 50) with each having one website, then put them all under your Business account. Then put your personal websites under your Personal account.

If you have many businesses, each having more than a dozen websites (50 or more websites), then put each business under its own account, like MyBusinessSite01, MyBusinessSite02, and so on.

For an absolute beginner, we will assume you only have one website with only one view (the default view), so the set up will look something like this:

After this, you will be given an option to change your data sharing settings. The data sharing options allow you to configure where your Google Analytics data can be shared.

Click on the “Get Tracking ID” to get your Google Analytics tracking code.

Step #3: Install Your Google Analytics Tracking Code

Once you click on the “Get Tracking ID” button, a popup window will display. Accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service and region of residence to use Google Analytics on your website. Click on the “I Accept” button and select your region from the drop down menu.

Copy and paste your Google Analytics tracking code (highlighted inside the red rectangular box below) to every page on your website.

If you have a WordPress site on your own domain, you can use Google Analytics by Yoast WordPress plug-in or All in One SEO plug-in to install your Google Analytics tracking code, no matter which framework or theme you are using.

(Example: Setting up Google Analytics tracking code, using All in One SEO Plugin)

If you have a Tumblr blog, you will go to your blog, click on the Edit button at the top right of your blog, then simply insert the Google Analytics tracking ID there.

If you are running a Shopify-ecommerce website, go to your Online Store settings and copy paste your Google Analytics tracking code there.

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Step #4: Create Goals for your website

The Goals settings of Google Analytics allows you to keep track of different important activities happening on your website and allows you to take proper action, based on that action. If someone contacts you (action) through your contact form, you want to display a “thank you page” to thank that visitor for taking time to contact you. Or, if someone purchases a product or service from your website, you want to create a thank you page for buying from you.

You can create Goals for your website by clicking on the Admin link at the top of your Google Analytics, then clicking on the Goals option under View column.

Then, click on the ‘New Goal’ button to create a new goal in Google Analytics.

For now, choose the Custom option and click on the Continue button.

Next, give a name to your Goal (something easy to remember) and select Destination as your type, before clicking the Continue button.

Then, you will specify the destination URL. For a web page, you will use /thankyoupage.html, instead of www.yoursite.com/thankyoupage.html, and select the “Begins with” option from the drop down menu.

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Finally, toggle the Value to enter the monetary value to the conversion and click on the Save button to complete the setup.

If you want to keep track of other goals on your website (newsletter sign ups, file downloads, product/services purchases, etc.), you can follow the same steps above. Remember, you can create up to 20 goals on your website. Make sure these goals are important to your business.

Google Analytics: Need to Add More Accounts & Properties?

To create a new account, go to your Admin menu and click on the “Create new account” link under the Account column.

Likewise, if you want to add new properties (website) under your Google Analytics account, click on the Admin menu and click on the “Create new property” link under the Property column.

Once you have installed Google Analytics on your website and created your goals, wait at least 24 hours, then you can view your website data.

How to Use Google Analytics to Keep Track of Your Website Visitors

By default, you will be taken to the Audience Overview screen when you want to access your Google Analytics report. In the Visitors Overview screen, you can find data about your website and traffic.

For example, at the top of the screen, you will find a chart, displaying your website traffic pattern for the past month.

You can use the dropdown feature to change the date this chart and other reports display. You can even compare charts between two date ranges.

On the left side of the screen, you can see your main reporting navigation. From here, you can view in-depth information about your visitors or switch to see detailed reports about your website traffic, content, and conversions.

You can also find additional links to Conversions, Intelligence Events, and Real Time.

1) Audience

By default, you will be taken to the Audience overview report screen when you want to access the report for any of your websites. This screen will display vital information about your website, such as:

  1. number of visitors
  2. unique visitors
  3. page views
  4. average time spent on your site
  5. the bounce rate
  6. percentage of new visitors (pie chart displaying new and returning visitors)

This key information gives you an overview of how your website is performing. For example, high average time on your site, high pages/visit, and a low bounce rate tells you how useful visitors find your site, once they land on it.

At the bottom of the screen, you can also view basic demographics, system, and mobile. You can view visitors on your website by language, country, city, or the operating system, browser, and mobile operating system, service provider, and screen resolution.

The most important reports are the demographics and geo reports.

You can view the Geo reports by clicking on the Language link under the Geo sub-navigation menu.

From there, you can view data about your visitor’s location (including map overlay) or language.

The Behavior section gives you more information about new vs. returning visitors, how often and how recently visitors are returning to your website, and user engagement.

Looking at the number of returning visitors shows you how many true fans you have. Users who have visited over a dozen times are most likely fans of your products or company. You can count on them when asking for help in promoting your products or services or simply to spread the word. Likewise, the “Days Since Last Visit” report tells you how often your returning visitors are coming back to your site.

The Engagement section displays two important things to measure: the session (visit) duration and the page depth (or the number of pages a visitor viewed).

Visitors who stay longer on your website and view more pages are more engaged than others. So, your main goal is to get as many visitors to view more than one page and get them to stay longer than a few seconds. If that is not happening, then this report will help you do that.

The Technology report is for technology and network statistics. If you were thinking about changing your website to display differently across various operating system, browsers, and screen sizes, then this is where you need to be.

There are six sections in the Browser & OS report.

  • Browser
  • Operating System
  • Screen resolution
  • Screen colors
  • Flash version
  • Extra: Java Support

These sections are straight forward, and you will need to use them to make the best decisions for your website.

You can use them when trying to do things, such as:

  1. Build a new website and understand what technology to build for,
  2. Make layouts for your website,
  3. Learn whether you need a mobile-friendly website (by viewing how many screen resolutions visitors are using),
  4. Testing new or existing content,
  5. Develop devices or software,
  6. Compare conversion rates to see if there are any issues with platforms,
  7. Profile valuable users, so you can get more users like them,
  8. Profile invaluable users, so you can get them to become valuable users,
  9. Explain to web developers why they still need to build sites that work in old Internet Explorer versions,
  10. Decide which platform to develop apps for. For example, Android usage is on the rise these days,
  11. Find out drops in website traffic and conversions,
  12. Understand why mobile websites are valuable.

Best Alternatives to Google Analytics Tools

The majority of websites are using Google Analytics tools.

According to BuiltWith’s report, by January 2013, over 17 million marketers and 57.3% of all websites were using Google Analytics, including most of the top 10,000 sites, based on Quantcast and Alexa rankings.

However, there are good alternatives. Below, we have highlighted alternative web analytics software that might be more suitable, depending on your use case.

1. Kissmetrics

Kissmetric’s web analytics is targeted to small and medium-sized companies. It gives you more than ‘just your visitor stats’. It helps you gain more customers and retain them by giving you information on user engagement and their buying habits, before and after they buy from your website.

According to their website, “Kissmetrics is a people-based analytics platform, tying all visits back to a person, across whatever devices they use. It lets you see how specific users found you, helps identify who your power users are, and allows you to study cohorts of different people.”

In contrast, Google Analytics still takes a more session-based analytics approach–so despite the new focus on mobile, user data on multiple devices can become cloudy and confusing.

The Good:

  • Data funnel feature allows you to spot weaknesses of your website that could cost you conversions/money.
  • The split testing feature allows you to optimize your landing pages for better results.
  • The API integration makes it easy to incorporate analytical data into your website or customer application.
  • The revenue tracking tool displays you what you earned and what your customers does after they purchase from you.
  • It tracks visitors’ activities in real time.
  • It has a user-friendly and highly intuitive interface.

The Bad:

  • Unlike Google Analytics, this web analytics tool does not provide in-depth information about your website traffic. This web analytics tool is built around Customer Insights and other actionable metrics.

Price: Starts from USD$220/month (Inclusive of 300k events)

2. Adobe Analytics (previously SiteCatalyst /Omniture)

Adobe Analytics is designed for enterprise users and competes with Google Analytics 360.

The Good:

  • Adobe Analytics dashboard can be customized across a wide range of formats and viewed on mobile and desktop, making it an excellent alternative to Google Analytics.
  • This web analytics tool gives you real-time visitor intelligence, telling you about visitor profiles, their purchasing info, and their loyalty towards your brand.
  • With Adobe Analytics, you can create Paths and Funnels. You can also import external data.
  • Excellent Enterprise functionalities (share segments, reports with your organization and have them auto-update when you change them for everyone, instead of sharing the same report over and over again with the same people, like in Google Analytics etc.)
  • Slicker analysis functionality (a true drag-and-drop playground) with the best and most advanced calculated metrics builder.

The Bad:

  • There is a big learning curve for customizations and implementation. Without at least 2-3 skilled in-house analysts (technically and analytically), you probably will not be able to extract much value from the software.
  • Unless you define traffic source, Adobe Analytics cannot automatically detect where your visitors are coming from.

Price: Starts from USD$50,000/Year (Negotiated)

Besides the above web analytic tools, here are over 20 web analytics tools alternatives you can explore further.

 

Conclusion

Web analytics offers you valuable data (about your website and visitors), which if interpreted correctly and acted on time, can bring significant positive results (high conversion rates) to your website. So, if you have made no changes to your website, based on your web analytical data, then you are missing out on wonderful opportunities that web analytics presents that could skyrocket the success of your website with little work and cost on your part.

 

Next Lesson

If you enjoyed this lecture on Web Analytics, you might also be interested in checking out our next Internet Marketing course on User Experience and Usability Testing.