If you have a shop or an office then you tend to know how many people have been through it on any given day, whether there have been crowds or only the occasional visitor.
But what happens when you have a website? Orders and emails alone don’t tell you the full story about how popular your site is, what pages are big hitters and which are getting ignored. If you’re informed about what your visitors are really doing, you can make informed decisions about how to improve and increase your business.
This is where having Google Analytics (GA) on your site is hugely helpful.
Grab your code
First you need to get some Google Analytics code installed. This isn’t as hard as it might seem. Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign up. If you already have an email account that is used for a Google services (Gmail, YouTube, Google+ etc), then use that one. If you don’t, create a new one.
Follow the (fairly straightforward) instructions until you get to the page that gives you your tracking code. You will need to put this code on every page of your website.
If you have a website built in HTML, for example, presumably you have a little bit of web-editing knowledge (or know someone who does), and will be able to insert the tracking code before the </head> tag on each page.
If you have something like a WordPress site, then you can use a plug-in to insert the code, or the theme you are using might have a specific admin section for inserting code into the header area of your pages. Similarly, other popular content management systems should have admin sections for you to paste that code.
Once the code is installed, you can go back into Google Analytics and see what’s happening.
I’m going to give you a bit of an overview here for two reasons. 1) Google changes things all the time, so if I get too specific it will be out of date tomorrow. 2) We could be here all day discussing Analytics, but it would be too much to take in in one go. Let’s start with the basics.
- The first page you get taken to in GA is the ‘Audience Overview’. You’ll see a graph of the number of visitor sessions on your site over a period of time (you can change this time period in the top right corner). You also get some basic data such as the number of sessions in this period, the number of users, page views, pages per session (ideally you want people looking at more than a single page whenever they drop by), and average session duration. You also get a glimpse of some demographics information.
- You can use the date range box in the top right-hand corner to compare two periods. Once your code has been set up for a little while this can be an interesting way to see how one month’s traffic might be different to another.
- In the left-hand bar you will see a few different GA sections. You can ignore Dashboards, Shortcuts and Intelligence Events for now, though all will prove useful in time. You should make a point of browsing through the others, though. You won’t break anything and it’s an easy way to familiarise yourself with the vast wealth of data that GA provides.
- The Real-Time section is fascinating because you can see who is doing what on your site right now. A word of warning – don’t become too obsessed with this. It’s all too easy to watch the numbers all day when you’d be better off looking at a snapshot of the past and then making decisions to improve your future.
- In Audience, click around to find out more about your visitors. Which language do they speak, which country are they from, what devices do they use to access your site? All of this can impact your content and how you choose to present your site.
- In Acquisition, discover whether your audience is finding you through social media, direct links, referrals or paid search.
- The Behaviour Overview is a good page for GA beginners. You get to see your top ten pages at a glance. You should be using this to think about why those pages are successful and what pages are missing.
- Conversions becomes really useful once you have gone into the Google Analytics Admin section and created some Goals. If a sign-up process or order ends up on a ‘final’ page, you can use this URL to track how many of your visitors reach this specific goal and view their journey to that point. Invaluable data!
Click around and allow yourself some time to appreciate what Google Analytics has to offer. If you don’t understand then either Google it, ahem, or come to us for advice at 155 Creative. To speak to us today regarding a free consultation or to find out how we can help your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01992 275626. We look forward to hearing from you.