Getting Started with Google Analytics
When you first set up your Google Analytics account you have the website profile that you initially establish. However, Google understands that you are likely to have multiple websites that you need to track so they allow users to create multiple profiles. The reason for this is to allow a single or multiple administrators to manage as many website (profiles) as they need. Each profile is provided its own unique code when created. Adding profiles is as easy as clicking the Add New Profile button and filling out a simple one page form. Google also provides the option of creating a profile for an existing website. This is useful for analyzing different sections of your website separately. For example, you may choose to create a profile that analyzes the public portion of your website and a different profile that analyzes your website member section that only registered users have access to.
Google also provides the ability to grant access to your Google Analytics profiles from other Google Accounts. This is a very useful option for almost any scenario. For example, you may have designed a website for your child's little league association and you would like to make the Google Analytics reports available to the league board members. Allowing limited or full access for this type of scenario is simple.
As with Website Profile management, adding a user is just as simple. By clicking on the User Manager link then selecting "Add a User" you are taken to another simple one page form. The only information you will need to know is the new user's Google Account email address (yes, they have to have an account already established on Google - https:// www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount). You will then select whether the new user has administrator rights (access to everything) or View Reports Only which only allows access to reports, graphs and statistics. Along with the View Reports Only option you can select which profiles the new user has access to.
Reports - The Basics
NOTE: Don't expect to see data appear immediately in Google Analytics. It takes about 24 hours after you sign up and put the code on your website before you will begin to see statistics appear.
There are a tremendous amount of reports and statistics available to you but because of space constraints we are just going to hit the highlights. The main reports page has 6 basic usage statistic sections. Each section has its own detailed report page which is accessed by simply clicking on the section name. The basic sections are:
- Visits - This indicates how many visitors came to your site within a given time period.
- Pageviews - The simplest of statistics, the number of pages viewed in a given time period.
- Pages/Visit - The simple average of how many pages were viewed by visitors to your website within a given time period. This is a good indicator of how involved your visitors became in browsing your website once they arrived. The higher the number the better.
- Bounce Rate - This is your bad news indicator. It is the percentage rate of users that arrived at your website and then left before viewing any other pages on your site. The smaller the percentage the better.
- Avg. Time on Site - Like Pages/Visit this statistic indicates how involved visitors are in browsing your website. If you see this number increase over time you are doing something right.
- % New Visits - This offers an indication of how
your search engine rankings, advertising and other factors
are driving new visitors to your website.
NOTE: This statistic will be slightly skewed for the first few months of using Google Analytics since almost every visitor will be new as far as Google knows.
Another great tool is the Map Overlay which can be accessed from the left menu of the reports section. This tool allows you to get a feel for where your visitors are located by country, state/province all the way down to city. To use the tool simply click on the country and then state/province to drill down and see where your viewers are visiting from. Even if geographical data isn't useful to you it's still just fun to explore.
The items we explored in this article are just a fraction of the data that Google Analytics compiles for you. It also has the ability to tie Google AdWords into the analytics tool in an effort to improve your ROI (and spend more money with Google). There are multiple filtering options such as breakdowns by month, week, day and even hour. There are statistics on browsers, operating systems, screen resolution, etc. I could go on but it's easy to see how this tool is a must have for every website developer.