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Making Full Use of Google Analytics

Analyze, Reform, Improve …

From the dawn of science , humanity has taken the approach of doing careful observation and drawing conclusions from it. And by careful observation, we mean observation that can be transformed to numbers,  which can then be compared to other values, for the purposes of simplifying both observation and decision making. That’s why it doesn’t matter what site you run – professional, personal, corporate – you’ll need to analyze your users if you want to bring only the best quality to them , and improve your site for good. On 1st April 2013 Google has played prank on Google Analytics user showing visitors from International Space Station.

What we’ll be dealing with is not mere statistics, it requires some understanding of what your visitors do. And putting yourself in their shoes isn’t all that difficult ,having in mind that you too are probably a visitor on one web site or another, and you know what you expect to see, and what pleases you or displeases you.  So throughout this tutorial, keep that in mind.

Looking at the measurements

So you’ve made a Google Analytics profile, and you’ve done your best to get the code to your site. What now ?

You’ll quickly notice the menu on the side of your Analytics account. Let’s review the options it presents to us.

The Dashboard shows only what you’ve decided you need to see on the front page when you log into your account. In a sense, it’s something like the most common visited pages screen on your browser, but highly configurable.

In the Visitors tab,  you’ll see the basic information for your visitors – their geographical location, their language of preference,  even their browsers and operating systems. This can help you draw some conclusions on what you should optimize your site for, since certain things don’t display well on certain browsers. Also , people using old operating systems likely means they have low computer resources , so maybe you should rethink all that AJAX ?

The Traffic Sources tab serves the purpose of showing you where your visitors come from, the exact links that sent them to your page. This is useful if you want to know whether your advertising or publicity efforts are going well. Also , you can see whether traffic comes more from one social network or another , which is crucial nowadays.

Content is a tab which displays per-page information – which pages are most popular, how your users reach them and how they exit them. It’s useful if you want to know which of your articles or posts or pages are most successful with your visitors.

The Goals tab lets you set specific goals for which analytics will track. For example, if you set a goal to reach 5000 visitors by next month, Analytics will show you how much progress you’ve made on that.

Analytics will also help for your SEO efforts, showing you how good you’re doing with certain keywords and you can draw your conclusions from the information it provides.

Ecommerce is for those of you who run sales websites, as it tracks information about transactions and revenue which you might find useful.

Dates and Date Ranges

analytics data

In the modern day business world, keeping track of time may be all that matters in certain situations. Analytics can display information to any date you select, and within a certain date range you choose if it was active during that time. That’s particularly useful if you want to see information for specific months, or weeks, or even between today and tomorrow!

To compare date ranges, you can tick “Compare to Past” underneath, which opens up a second calendar selector for your second time range.

Graphics and Visual Output

Google Analytics is famous for its ability to show information in a way that will be more meaningful to you in just a glance. It can do that thanks to the various graphics it can display.

For example, you may choose to draw a graphic of a certain metric over time, to see the progress you’ve been making , and to have a quick estimate of how it has changed chronologically.

You can compare two metrics, and their progress over time. They will be displayed conveniently in two different colors.

There are loads of other options – pie charts, bar graphs. And best of all, the relevant information is shown in summaries below, to give you the metric values that correspond to what you see in the graph.

Using Google Analytics will certainly bring great benefits to those who bother to explore it a little first. So have patience, and the will to try everything out the first time you open up Google Analytics.

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