Google Analytics is a powerful tool for building a web presence.
This article written by Ian Vella and appeared on the TechSunday (Sunday Times 25th October 2009)
For the average user, Google may only be a search engine. Yet the industry-savvy know Google is investing heavily in other ventures such as consumer internet, software, hardware and even health care solutions. Google also provides webmasters with online tools to help them build a better web presence. One of these, Google Analytics, is powerful, easy to use, and free.
Google Analytics tracks incoming visitors from all referrers and lets you determine if they are coming from organic search engine results, from paid traffic advertising programmes or even from links in .pdf files.
Other features collect data and allow you to generate custom reports. Webmasters can also link Google Analytics to other Google services such as Adwords or Adsense. All web-stat counters can track where a user is coming from. But what sets Google Analytics apart is that it generates reports using a goal-oriented structure. Goals can range from sales to particular actions such as a user downloading a file from a website.
This means you can track what strata of people are doing a particular action on your website. Say you are selling books through your website. You may discover that people searching for a particular author and being referred by search engines are buying books from your website. Using Google Analytics goals, you can gauge the effectiveness of an advert you are running on a third party site. You may also notice that people looking for vague terms in search engines may not be willing to buy anything. You can use this information to focus on promoting particular keywords such as specific author names which generate more interest.
This means you can drop an advertising campaign and avoid spending time and money trying to rank high for vague keywords such as ‘books in Malta’ or ‘book sales’ which return no sales. In this way, Google Analytics helps you make informed decisions and budget time and money better. In short, Google Analytics removes guesswork. An indispensable tool is the Top Contest report, through which you can identify which pages on your website are getting most traffic and where this is coming from. It will also identify pages that make visitors leave your website. This report is helpful when trying to encourage people to spend more time browsing your website. The longer they stay, the higher the probability they will buy a product or use a service. This can be achieved by identifying the weakest pages and taking action to rectify any shortcomings on them. This tool will also allow you to put attractive offers on the most popular pages.
The Geographical Placement report identifies users’ exact geographical location. Say you are a webmaster selling books online and offering delivery in Malta. Let’s assume you are promoting your website relentlessly on the internet and building high pagerank backlinks to your website to get a better result on the organic search engine results. Using this tool you may notice that 90 per cent of your visitors come from abroad. This means you are investing time and energy building something which in the long run will not help you achieve more sales since you only deliver locally. These reporting tools are just a starting point as Google Analytics includes more than 80 detailed reports. You can also customise any of these reports to suit your information and decision-making requirements. The possibilities are practically endless.