What is Analytics?

You may have heard of Google Analytics, but what is it? How do you use it? What can it tell you? These are all questions that we’ll answer in this new series called “Analytics Explained.”

If you look up Wikipedia, Web Analytics (the generic term) is defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimising web usage.”

In the olden days of the internet, propeller-capped boffins would have called this web stats.  Over the years, the reporting of these site metrics has become much more sophisticated, and Google has become one of the preeminent players in the analytics space.

What Analytics Will Tell You

Part of the reason for Google’s interest is because of how tightly analytics aligns with its mission of “organising the world’s information and making it universally useful.”  Analytics are the tools which make web usage transparent, to website owners and Google as well. The metrics can tell you many valuable pieces of information about how people are using your website including:
•    How many people visit
•    The sites that send you traffic
•    Which pages are most popular
•    What content readers like the most.

Going deeper Analytics can also give you very detailed information about which marketing campaigns are working best for you, and which customers convert into sales or leads.

Use Your Existing Google Account

Anyone with a Google account can open an Analytics account. If you’ve got a Gmail account or you access a Google drive, you’re already half way there.  Google allows up to 100 analytics properties (tracked sites) per Google account.

One of the important points to note is that you should always maintain your Google data. Some developers will establish Google Analytics on your behalf and then provide you access. While this works initially – if your designer parts ways you may lose access to your site data – and you’ll have to start again.
While we’ll look at the details of establishing Analytics in a later post, the fundamentals of setting up Google Analytics is reasonably straightforward. Each property you create in Google Analytics dashboard will have a unique property ID.

Linking Google Analytics To Your Website

Once you’ve got your property ID, Google will give you code to insert into every page on your website you wish to track.  Typical content management platforms like WordPress and Joomla, use plugins to add this code to each page automatically.  A quick search for Google Analytics in the WordPress Plugin repository will provide numerous plugins you can use for this purpose.

Once your site is linked using the code, Google Analytics will start tracking website visitors and producing reports.
For busy sites, the Real Time Analytics can be useful for watching real-time visitors to your site, while historical data will give you trends over time.
If you haven’t stepped into the world of Analytics perhaps now is the time to give it a try. If you’d like some help setting it up contact us – we’ll be happy to help.

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