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Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a resource for tracking traffic that comes to your site.  To use Analytics, set up an account at http://www.google.com/analytics.  You will be directed to add a website profile.


Leave the “Add a Profile for a new domain” radio button checked.  Then enter your web domain.   For my Analytics account, I entered www.websitetemplatedatabase.com.  Click Finish, and you’ll be taken to a page that contains your tracking code.  The Analytics tracking code is simply a piece of JavaScript code, invisible to visitors to your website, that reports to your Analytics account every time someone accesses one of your pages where you have the tracking code installed.  As noted in the Tracking Status message, shown in the image below, you need to install the tracking code (by simply copying it from the Analytics box and pasting it in a section of your site) on each page of your site that you want to have tracked.  Obviously, if you have pages on your site where the tracking code doesn’t exist, Analytics can’t report information about visitors to those pages.


You might be overwhelmed with the prospect of inserting this piece of JavaScript into each page of your website.  Fortunately, most websites in operation today (yours should be included) use file includes to insert headers and footers that show up on every page site wide.  For example, if your website is based on a Content Management System such as Joomla, you can easily insert the JavaScript code into the header or footer section of your active template, and you’re done.  If you’re using a shopping cart system such as Zen Cart, you can simply insert the code into the header or footer file of your template.  Setting up the Analytics tracking code on popular blog platforms such as Blogger.com and WordPress is just as easy.

After you’ve pasted the Analytics tracking code into the appropriate place on your website, you can go back to your Analytics account and confirm that the reporting system has been set up.  Sometimes there is a delay of a few minutes before Analytics updates itself to recognize that your tracking code is indeed installed.  Until Google Analytics sees your tracking code installed correctly on your website, you will see something like this in your report dashboard.  The warning sign means that Analytics hasn’t been able to find the tracking code for the site.  Normally there are no problems setting up the tracking code, but once in awhile (depending upon your website structure) you might have to do some troubleshooting.


Once you do have the tracking code setup correctly, you’ll see something that looks like this:


Analytics Reporting
Once you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website, you can get to the fun part: checking out how your website promotion efforts are paying off.  Analytics shows you every angle related to traffic patterns on your website.  I like to look at the general overview of how many unique visitors I’m getting to my site.  The default view is for one month, but you can easily change it to show much longer or shorter periods.  You can see on the chart below that websitetemplatedatabse.com has gone from just a few visitors a day in July when we first brought the site online up to about 150 visitors per day now.  There are some noticeable spikes on the chart from specific marketing campaigns we ran to drive traffic to our site.


I like to see how my SEO efforts are paying off in the search engines, so I normally visit the Search Engine reporting page, shown here.


You can see here that we’re making good progress showing up in the search engines, with Google leading the way as expected.  If I click on the Keywords link, I can see the individual keyword phrases visitors have used to find my website.  I often use this information as feedback into my SEO efforts to capitalize on the search terms I’m naturally being ranked for in Google search results.  For instance, if I’m getting a handful of visitors for a keyword term such as “blogger templates”, I might check what my Google ranking is for that keyword phrase and expend some effort pushing my site to the top.  Using this strategy is often more efficient that going after a keyword term for which my site is buried deep down in the search results.

I’d advise you to spend some time looking around after you’ve set up your Google Analytics account and installed the tracking code.  There are numerous ways you can use Analytics as very useful feedback into our website structure as well as your website promotion strategies.  For instance, if you’re selling a product, you can check to see what page customers are commonly exiting your site from.  You might find that your checkout page is suspicious or that your policies page is unpopular.  The information I’ve listed here is just the tip of the Analytics iceberg.

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