Does your web site need a refreshed look? Are your visitors going to the most important pages on the site? Do they hit your Home page and leave? Is your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign working? Do you know how people are finding your site? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then Google Analytics can help you!

Google Analytics, like other traffic analytics programs, tracks, collects, measures, reports and analyzes quantitative data to assist you in optimizing your website and marketing initiatives. The information collected allows you to see how much traffic you’re getting, where your visitors are located geographically and how they were referred to your site; what keywords were used to find your site; which pages are performing well or poorly, and if visitors are doing what you want them to do, e.g., filling in a questionnaire, downloading a PDF or making a purchase. And that’s just scratching the surface of what data is available to you. Chances are you won’t need all the data available on Google Analytics, just that which is relevant to your business.

With SEO taking a central position in web design, many of you are probably wondering how web analytic programs, such as Google Analytics, can assist your SEO and on line marketing efforts. Ultimately, you will use this data to understand how your SEO affects your web site functionality, and how you can tweak your SEO to improve your Internet marketing.

However, with all this information at your finger tips, it may be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. It’s a bit like trying to learn a new language by being handed a dictionary and told, “Go ahead, make a sentence”. So, let’s go through a few steps on how you can start to use Google Analytics in an effective manner.

  • Your first step is to set up your goals. Goals are those things that you want web visitors to do on your web site: sign up for an enewsletter, download a brochure, fill in a questionnaire, or purchase a product. Determining your goals is super important in analytics since it equates to your bottom line – Did I accomplish what I set out to do?
  • Find out what keywords visitors are using to get to your site. Generally, when you “Google” your web site, you include keywords that YOU think will drive visitors to your site. This can include branded and non-branded keywords. Google Analytics will list the branded keywords, i.e., those that specifically list your company name or branded name, as well as non-branded keywords and the referring search engine. You can then use this information to see if you are being found in the search engines (by non-branded keywords) and then tweak your SEO using these keywords!
  • Monitor your marketing campaign. When you launch a new marketing campaign, you can set up Google Analytics to monitor email marketing, social media updates, Pay-per-click (PPC) (also called cost per click) advertising and other marketing activities. Google Analytics will provide information on which of these activities hits your target audience, which activity elicits the best response rate, or how worthwhile a given activity is for your business.
  • Internal search site monitoring is especially important to monitor. It’s sort of a no-brainer: if your web site has an internal Search feature, Google Analytics can monitor what visitors are plugging into it. It’s about as close as you can get to having them tell you to your face what they are looking for, be it a product, service or just information. Google Analytics can also then monitor what the visitor did after their search, e.g., how many more pages they looked at, did they follow through to complete any of your goals, and so on.
  • Track your visitor engagement. Are your visitors spending any time on your site or are they just taking a look and hightailing it out of there? Google Analytics can monitor the time visitors stay on your page – the longer, the better. Google Analytics can’t tell you why visitors bounce off your page immediately, or linger, but it could be related to content, or a functional aspect of your page, such as load time. If your content is poor, or if your page loads slowly, visitors are more likely to just leave the site. By the way, Google Analytics can even tell you how fast your pages load! So, with this valuable information, you can make changes to your site to improve visitor experience and visitor engagement.
  • Make sure your pages are being tracked. In order for analytic programs to assess web site activity, a small piece of code needs to be inserted into the web site. Ideally, this should be on each page. This code collects information/data about the visitors who have come to your website. The data is then sent to a server where it is stored and analyzed. If your page does not have this code, you simply will not get any information about it.

These are a just a few examples of how Google Analytics can be used. As you will see, there are many ways you can analyze your web function with analytics. Your web designer, or analytics expert can assist you with your set up, or you can find plenty of “how to” information on the Internet.

Analytics helps you learn about your audience and target market, and assists you in understanding how your web site interacts with your visitors. Collectively, this information can help improve your web site’s operation so you get the most out of your site. But remember, Google Analytics is only a tool, not a solution: it’s up to you to decide what to do with the information. So, while there is an enormous amount of information to consider when using web analytics, start out with some of the basic approaches we mentioned and you will soon see how useful web analytics can be for your business.