Every business wants to know what is happening on their website.
But you can’t just stroll onto your website like a restaurant owner who leaves the kitchen to visit the dining room.
Or a shopkeeper who visits the store floor.
It’s invisible, this activity on your website. You need a way to record the activity and assemble it in a form that you can use.
That’s exactly what Analytics packages do. And the most popular package is Google Analytics.
Good news, bad news
The good news is: Google Analytics does just about everything.
For professional web analytics folks that’s terrific. They revel in the ability to look at their data up, down, sideways, inside out and outside in.
The bad news is: Beginners often find themselves overwhelmed. Which numbers are important? Where do I begin?
In this article I’m going to help you get started with Google Analytics.
(By the way, I got some help for this post from Ian Lurie. He recorded a short video on getting started with Google Analytics. It’s definitely worth watching. [Note: Ian updated this video in January, 2012. The link goes to the new version.])
What do you want to know?
Think for a moment about that store owner I mentioned earlier. What would this shopkeeper monitor daily?
The number of people who visit the store? Of course.
How long they stay and what they do? Absolutely.
Who referred them? Without question.
It’s the same for analytics on your website. Start by learning who is visiting the site, how long they stay, and how they got to the site.
How many people visited your site?
1. Visits. How many visitors came to your site in the past month?
2. Absolute unique visitors. You could have 2,000 visitors in a month, but was it 2,000 unique people who visited once? Or is it some smaller number of unique visitors, some of whom visited the site repeatedly? You want to know this because it gives you a sense of how many people came to your site more than once.
How long did they stay?
3. Average page views. The number of pages that each person looked at while visiting the site.
4. Average time on site. How long they stayed.
5. Bounce rate. How many of your visitors looked at only one page and left? Or simply stayed for a short period of time?
Where did they come from?
Google divides the traffic sources into Search Engines, Direct Traffic, and Referring Sites.
6. Referring sites. Look at referring sites to see what sites people are on where they see a link to your site and pay a visit.
7. Referring keywords. What keywords did they use in the search engine to find you?
This can tell you a lot about what people are searching for and what terms they use to find it.
Seven metrics to get you started
There you have it. Seven metrics on Google Analytics to get you started. Number of visitors. How long they stay. Where they come from.
Try these out for yourself. Check out Ian’s video [Updated in January, 2012]. And let me know what questions you have about Google Analytics. If you have a question, probably lots of other people do too. I can write it up and we’ll share it with everyone.