March 29, 2006

Web Analytics

If you run a webpage or a blog you’ll know how important it is to understand traffic to your website. Most servers provide basic statistics as standard but these packages are often difficult to understand and easy to misinterpret. Enter Google Analytics – a free tool that easily lets you monitor and interpret traffic to your website.

Formally known as Urchin on Demand Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience.

Google Analytics is free and comes pre-configured with over 80 reports that lets you track visitors through your site, and will keep track of the performance of your marketing campaigns – where your visitors are coming from and what they are looking at.

Google have integrated their Analytics programs with their easy to use advertising program AdWords. Even if you don’t maintain your own website you’ll be familiar with Google AdWords – they appear on most websites that contain advertising and are generally customised to the content you are viewing. For example, if you are reading a webpage about computers the ads presented will likely be about buying a computer.

If you do have a website getting Google Analytics up and running is easy. Simply create an account and then go through the set up steps. Google will automatically generate HTML code that you will need to enter on every web page you want to track. Once this code is live on your website Google Analytics will automatically start tracking your traffic.

It normally takes between 24-48 hours before you start to see results but after you do Google presents all the information it captures in an easy to understand format. You can view your traffic as numbers or graphs. The two report I particularly like are the marketing summary that tells you where your traffic is coming from and the content summary that tells you which pages are the most popular.