Google Analytics Tutorial - Basics

Google analytics has a huge number of features to help webmasters and marketers keep track of visitor trends and extrapolate data from the statistics. Its success is largely due to its ability to provide such an in-depth analysis. However, it is important that when analysing your data, you do not overlook the basics.

Despite its numerous graphs and content overlays, the simplest information is generally the most useful. For most sites, it is of little use knowing details, such as the percentage of visitors that use FireFox, if you are not paying attention to (and acting upon) the basic information provided. The “Traffic Sources” section, for example, can provide a number of useful insights.

For most sites, Google will be top of the list for traffic sources, regardless of whether a PPC campaign is in use. However, Internet marketing involves more than just search engine optimisation and any well marketed site should have a steady stream of visits from referrals. If analytics shows that this is not the case, then it is an indication that you could benefit from a link building campaign or from actively increasing your exposure on other sites. This is unlikely to bring a huge amount of traffic itself but it will benefit your “organic” listings which, in turn, will increase the amount of traffic to your site.

If analytics shows that you have a large number of visitors from direct traffic, it is a good indicator that your site is becoming well known or your brand awareness is increasing. For sites that offer services such as news or games, direct traffic is likely to be relatively high because there are a lot of regular visitors. For example, Matt Cutts recently revealed that around 20% of his blog’s traffic is direct.

The “keywords” section within Google Analytics is one of the most useful pages, and is often overlooked. It is important to know how much traffic each keyword delivers because this data can be used to improve exposure and increase traffic. For example, if a site’s index page targets a competitive keyword such as “computers”, it may be too competitive and yield no traffic. However, analytics reveals that the majority of traffic comes from the term “desktop computers” even though this term has not been specifically targeted. With this knowledge, the site owner makes the informed decision to rewrite the index page to target “desktop computers”. The result is an improved listing and a significant increase in targeted traffic.

Although Google Analytics provides a huge amount of detailed information, most of it serves as little more than a distraction for many site owners. Instead, focusing attention on the basic information should be all that is needed. Having a good understanding of the volume of traffic you receive and where this traffic comes from is often enough to start making informed marketing decisions.

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One Response to “Google Analytics Tutorial - Basics”

  1. Timur I. Says:

    Great! Thank you!
    I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?
    Of course, I will add backlink?

    Regards, Timur I.

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