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Utilizing Google Analytics

March 26, 2012 · 11 comments

in Internet Marketing, SEO

Google Analytics and Webmaster ToolsGoogle is not only the world’s most popular search engine, which helps to bring visitors to your site.

It is also the creator of several online applications that can help to manage and improve your websites.

Two such services are Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.

Move Over Server-Side Analysis, Hello Google Analytics

Google Analytics has become the de facto tool for measuring traffic to your website. Prior to the advent of this service, website owners relied upon scripts installed to their servers. Two popular solutions included Webalizer and AWStats.

However, these services often showed varied analysis reports and, if you owned several websites, you would have to access these reports individually from scripts on each domain. Now, Google Analytics allows you to add multiple websites to one account. You can even grant access to other users, such as contributors to your website or potential advertisers.

Another benefit of Google Analytics over these older solutions is that tracking is available much sooner. Traditional server-based tracking tools typically had a lag period of 24 hours. Google Analytics data is released almost in real time. The lag period is much shorter, sometimes only three or four hours before the newest data posts.

Analyze This!

Google Analytics offers in-depth analysis and reports. You can view the individual page views and unique visits. The reports will also show you how many pages are being viewed per visit, the pages where visitors most commonly leave your site and pages that are seeing the most or longest visits. Google Analytics tracks the amount of time visitors are spending on your website as well as whether visitors are new or returning.

You may notice that these numbers are significantly lower than those reported on other tools. However, Webalizer and similar server-side tools simply interpret the server log file -they’re not smart enough to determine between real traffic from people and robots, such as the crawlers of search engines.

When the majority of website owners use Google Analytics, their traffic reports will be using the same metrics and provide comparable reports, a feature that wasn’t available when webmasters used a number of different tools.

Like other analysis tools, Google Analytics will tell you where your visitors are from, so you can see what advertising and link methods are helping your website. You can even use Google Analytics to see how people are finding your social media profile. Google will also tell you the keywords people are entering when they find your websites via search engines.

Analytics offers information about your visitors, too. Want to know which browser is popular? Google will tell you. You can also read which countries your visitors are coming from and the languages that they speak. Google Analytics will break down mobile users by device, so you know exactly how many people are browsing from the iPhone versus how many visit your website on Android.

Meeting Your Goals

Not only does Google Analytics allow you to watch your hits, visits and bounce rates during specific time periods, but it also allows you to set goals. For example, if you’re hoping to increase the number of page views, you can set a goal and Google Analytics will show you how you’re doing. Google allows you to create up to five sets of goals regarding the performance of your website.

Similarly, you can set up alerts about the performance of your website. You can receive an email when someone visits a specific page of your website for example. This is useful when you’re trying to promote a page, but you could also use it to keep track of pages that you want to keep hidden.

Google’s Webmaster Tool Belt

In many ways, Webmaster Tools is a scaled-down version of Google Analytics. If you don’t require in-depth analysis, Webmaster Tools might fit the bill. You can register multiple websites on your dashboard and view the search queries that visitors are using to find your website. However, Webmaster Tools focuses more on how your website’s visibility on Google.

With this in mind, you can add a sitemap to your account to help Google index the pages on your website or use an utility that allows you to create a file that will block Google from indexing specific pages. Use this service to instruct Google whether to use “www.” in your website address or to inform the search engine when your URL has changed, similar to filling out a “Change of Address“ postcard. If your website corresponds with a business, you can easily add it to Google Places, so that local customers can find you.

Whether you’re simply tracking traffic on a single website, or need to monitor multiple pages, Google Analytics and its Webmaster cousin are a major upgrade to other services.

Do you use Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics? What convinced you to make the switch from other utilities, or do you still use them, too?

Image Credit: jannoon028

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Sean is social media and tech-enthusiast that spends his time exploring cultures, emerging technologies, and connecting with others. When he’s not learning the latest tricks for his gadgets or waxing philosophical find him contributing to ATTSavings or on Twitter @SeanTR.

Sean has written 1 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

marquita herald March 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I love Google Analytics because it’s so easy to use – even for a non-techie like me. I confess it took me awhile to switch over to the new format but now that I have I see that the tools are better than ever.
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techne March 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

Google is dominating the search market from many years. And Google Analytics is really very useful for measuring traffic ans track visitors. Very helpful for any website.
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Sean March 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I agree Marquita, the format updates can take a second to figure out. One of the new features that I find helpful is the ability to create advanced segments. I like being able to see more detailed information on where traffic is coming from.

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John Mak March 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Sean,

It’s great to know about Google Analytics and Webmaster tools! I believe statistics are very important so you can target your visitors and bring more traffic back to your website! Thanks for sharing!
John mak
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Sarah Arrow March 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Hi Sean, I use the webmaster tools extensively to resolve site issues. I love that this powerful toolset is provided to users for free! It gives such awesome features for website owners, often more powerful than paid tools.
Sarah Arrow recently posted..It’s easy… you’ll sell tonnes. You can sell anything on the internetMy Profile

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Clint Butler March 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

In internet marketing circles there are a few people who are on the paranoid side that teach not to use Google tools to monitor the activity on their sites. They justify it by saying that they are giving too much information to the search engine and this will somehow hurt their rankings. Of course these are the same people that are trying to sell courses on how to get free traffic from Google. I never really understood that. That being said I love using the tools and Google Analytics is adding more and more power to the system almost daily. The real time traffic monitor and the visitor flow chart are my favorites.
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Ryan March 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

Analytics is great, but I am still only getting the hang of it. With the help of YouTube I am learning the ins and outs of it. I don’t find the help menu all that useful though. Much prefer watching videos on it. Google should do there own ‘how to’ videos.

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Susan Cooper April 29, 2012 at 2:17 am

I found your article very I informative. I haven’t set up my goals yet and should do that soon. Google Analytics really does help get me the info I need to determine what my readers respond to and why. That is very helpful when you are trying o build an audience. 🙂
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