Analytics are a great way of seeing how all your hard work promoting your website is paying off. Your site itself should be built in a search engine friendly way, of course, but that’s not the end of the line!

Once your website is on live on the web you’ll want to know how the visitors to your site have been getting on. Google Analytics is a free of charge tool that can (should!) be installed on your website, which allows you to see how

Furthermore, any changes to the design of your site should, where possible, be informed by your analytics.

Creating an analytics account

All you need is a Google Account. You might already have one if you use Google Apps for Business, or you can create one for free from Google’s homepage.

Once you’ve got a Google account of some sort, head to Google Analytics and click the ‘Sign in’ button.

You won’t see much yet, but if you go to ‘Admin’ you should be see a ‘Create new account’ button. Fill out all of your website’s details here:

  • A name for the account. This account can contain multiple websites, so it should be something like your company’s name.
  • A name for the property. This is the website you’ll be installing the analytics on, like ‘example.com’. This is a sub-section of Account as your company might have several distinct websites (properties).
  • A name for the view in the ‘URL’ box. Probably just something like ‘All website data’. But you might want to use the website’s URL again (something like ‘example.com’). The reason this is a sub-section of Property is that you might want to segment your website in the future – a good example of when this would be a good idea is if you had a promotional ‘landing pages’ might warrant their own view, separate to the main website’s analytics.

Once you’ve set your account name, property name and URL set your time zone, industry category, etc. and hit ‘Get Tracking ID’.

Installation

You probably won’t be installing the analytics yourself. You can just copy the tracking ID and send it to your web designer and they can install it on your site.

What’s probably a better idea is to give your web designer access to your Analytics account:

  1. Go into your new account’s Admin area
  2. In the ‘Accounts’ column, on the left, go to ‘User Management’
  3. Type your web designer’s email in the ‘Add permissions for’ box
  4. Hit the ‘Read & Analyze’ button and check all of the boxes in the dropdown
  5. Check the ‘Notify this user by email’ button
  6. Hit the ‘Add’ button

Your web designer will now receive an email where they can jump into your analytics account and grab the Tracking ID to install on your website.

Getting the information you need

Log in or, if you’re already logged in click the ‘Home’ link a the top of the page. You’ll see your newly created account with a folder icon to its side. Open it and you’ll see your website.

If your analytics have been running for any amount of time, you’ll notice that you get a very brief overview. Click through to the website’s data and you’re presented with a bunch of graphs, charts and numbers. Things like:

  • Number of visits
  • How many pages have been viewed
  • How long people visitors are staying on the site
  • What country they’re based in
  • What language they speak
  • The device they’re using
  • What web browser they use

It doesn’t stop there!

Something that’s worth looking at is the Bounce Rate. This is the figure that tells you how many visitors are arriving at your site and ‘bouncing’ straight off, without checking out any other pages. There are a few reasons for this, some out of your control, but you probably want to get this figure as low as possible.

In the ‘Audience’ section of the side menu ‘Users flow’ gives you information on how visitors are moving through your site.

The ‘Acquisition’ section shows you how people are getting to your site: whether via a link, by searching, or by typing your domain name in.

‘Real time’ allows you to view who’s on your site right now and what they’re doing.

Conversions allows you to set goals that allow you to measure how well your site is working. For example, if your main goal is to get your visitors to send you message via your contact form, you might set this up as a goal. You can then start tweaking your design to increases the number of visitors achieving your goal.

Have a play

The best way to learn how the interface works is to have a play around with it - click links and statistics, drill right down and you’ll be amazed at the detail the analytics tool picks up about your visitors.

Put a note in your diary to come back and check every month or so and you’ll start to see how things develop!