A Swiss Army knife in its own right, and free to boot, Google Analytics is an excellent tool no Webmaster should be without. Whether you are using cpanel or similar website management software, the insights gained by using the many features within Google Analytics contributes to a more robust understanding of what is happening under the hood. It provides a simple interface allowing you to combine many different metrics, displaying data the way you want it displayed. From custom reporting to tracking downloaded documents to geographical tagging, here are 19 reasons Google Analytics is awesome.
- Do you want to know how visitors found your site? What key phrases or words did they use? Google Analytics details these changes (like reporting if a visitor used the term best happy hour in Seattle to land on your site, for example), allowing you to alter SEO strategy accordingly, catering better to the audience.
- Referrals are great, and keeping an accurate link count is helpful. Analytics also divulges data about traffic quality, which ranks up there in importance with link count.
- Google Analytics is able to email reports to any inbox regularly. This includes timely alerts, for detecting and explaining undesirable activity, forwarded to tech support at your host if they allow such convenience.
- The large selection of reports is easy to set up, and very customizable; generating reports with Analytics is intuitive, and easy to get used to. The report screen uses drag-and-drop for combining metrics, dimensions and sub-dimensions. For example, Bounce rate and Visit are metrics. City is a dimension, and Source, Ad group and Keyword are sub-dimensions. Privileges such as deny, read-only and Administrator, can be configured for all users.
- The ability to follow documents that have been downloaded. A small piece of code attached with any link tells a Googlebot to track whoever clicks it. The tactic is useful even if it links to a Word 2010 file, email, or an outside link.
- The eCommerce tool is well equipped and easy to use once set up. You can track a plethora of alternating measurements as a function of time, alerting you as to what style of post gets the most money per view, and also the average revenue earned for each visit, whether page group or single page.
- Under Content, the Navigation Summary is a storehouse of relevant info. It displays details of each view count such as how the visitor arrived, where the visitor ended up, and several measurements about browser behavior between those points.
- Visitors arrive from a variety of places, with a variety of browsers. It is beneficial to tweak a site based on how those visitors’ browsers behave. The Goals and Funnels feature of Google Analytics is able to track which pages visitors linger on versus the goal of customized browser compatibility. It is helpful to know customers’ connection speeds when tuning a site for the kind of traffic it is attracting and/or generating.
- Plot exit pages over time with ease. This can aid other SEO strategies by changing or incrementing attention drawing content.
- Being able to filter by domain is a handy ability to have. If some of your code gets onto another site, being tarnished by irrelevant data, Google Analytics will filter that domain so that it will reject the dubious site.
- A geographic point of view, or finding patterns in the ebb and flow of visitors over time based on visitor geography.
- Google Analytics sports the relatively shiny new ability to compare date ranges, in addition to merely looking at data within a certain range.
- Google Analytics is in complete synthesis with AdWords. It can give you data on each keyword, group and campaign. Each area shows costs, You can see conversions, costs, the amount of clicks, displays, and the final outcome. Your margin is updated every time a sale occurs.
- Goals and Funnels. This takes an investment of time to setup properly, but keeping tabs on goals such as subscriptions to a monthly newsletter allows you to see the big picture more clearly. A great deal of data is available for perusal at your leisure. A link in the references below this list leads to the Google’s tech support page on Goals and Funnels.
- In recent versions, Google has added the ability to export certain documents to Excel format. No longer is there a need to copy / paste data anymore. Reports can be exported to CSV format, which Excel can read.
- It is a good idea to filter your own static address so that Googlebot ignores all the employee-generated outbound traffic. If a certain address, say an SEO company, visits your site often to check on it, it’s also a good idea to have them ignored as well. This cuts the clutter, focusing on the data that matters.
- The Visitor Loyalty feature tells you how many one-time or returning visitors turn into clients. It also tracks how often, and at what date and time, the regular customers visit. It is accommodating being able to detach one-time visits from returning customers.
- What phrases or words are statistically working on my site the best? Should I remove a useless keyword? Google Analytics’ Visitor Type Contribution page alerts as to the number of page views over time, the length of time visitors have perused the site, and their bounce stat, in addition to other measurements.
- Being able to search through internal website navigation gives a lot of info, like which page a visitor was on when using the search box, and what page was selected in the search results. This is done by piping the search term via the proper URL.
The best place to start learning Google Analytics is inside the program itself. The help available to newcomers and pros alike is very healthy and updated often. There are too many cool features to get into here, but the documentation provides simple descriptions of its many functions.
The tools in Google Analytics are plenty, and we touched on what Analytics can do both for your site, and for your schedule. A cinch to setup, easy to use, and with a user-friendly cockpit, Google Analytics is a simple and powerful tool every Webmaster should consider incorporating.