What is Google Analytics and how do I install it?

Google Analytics is a website tracking service that you can install for free on your website, this service when installed will monitor your visitors providing you with vital information on how many visitors your website is getting. The information collected is anonymous and you have no way of tracking down individual users however the data the service collects is still incredibly useful and can help you tailor your efforts to ensure your website performs as well as it can.

With the data being anonymous you do not need to worry about data protection and securing the data as this is all handled by Google you can get on with looking at the trends in the data collected and improving your website. To get started you will need to have a Google account to sign into the analytics service you can do this by visiting www.google.com/analytics

Installing Google Analytics

Installing analytics on your website is easy if you know basic HTML, if not i would suggest getting a website development company or website developer to install the code for you to ensure it is set up correctly. To install the code you first need to add a new profile to your analytics account, each account can have up to 100 different websites per account but most people will only need to keep track of a handful of websites – web developers however should be keeping tabs on every single website they create and these can require more then one account.

To add a new website to your profile click on the admin button in the top right of the screen, you will then be taken to the admin area of the site, this area will then give you the option of adding a new website profile – you need to click on ‘ + New Account’ this will then bring up the page that lets you add a new website to your profile. Fill in the fields as requested and press next / accept.

On this next page you will be shown some java script code, this section of code is unique to your website and is how we will install the analytics service on your website, you need to copy this code and paste it into your websites head section just before the closing head tag. Make sure to install this snippet of code on every single page on your website or it will not track your visitors accurately, if your website is running on a CMS such as WordPress you may be able to insert the code into the template files and the CMS will install the code on all of your pages automatically for you. With WordPress the template file you require is the header (header.php) template file, if you paste in the code to this file all pages on your WordPress website will be covered by the analytics service including all pages created after installing the code.

What information can i get from Google Analytics?

With the tracking code installed your website will start feeding information on your visitors to the analytics service,  the data on the analytics service will always be 24 hours out of date so visitors on your website now wont show until tomorrow. With the data coming in we will be able to look at some very useful statistics they key one being number of visitors – knowing how many people are looking at your website is fundamental to knowing if your website is successful or not. No matter what your website is for from a shopping site to an information website if its not being visited then its not a successful websites knowing the visitor numbers will let you know if you need to make improvements or not.

Simply logging into the analytics service will show you the visitor numbers for the past month, you can change the time period by clicking in the top right and adjusting the settings. You can use this information to look at visitor numbers and how they change over a period of time, for example if you introduce a new service or run an advert you will be able to look back on the visitor numbers to see what the effect was on the number of visitors your website received.

Other useful information that you can get from the tracking is the devices that people are accessing your website from, this includes how many people are viewing your website on a mobile device. This information can be used to see if your website is being accessed by lots of mobile visitors and if so give you an indication to if you should look into responsive website design to cater for your mobile visitors.

With all of the pages that visitors are viewing being recorded there is another useful bit of information we can get from the recorded statistics, by looking at which pages are the most popular on your website you will know the content that is attracting the visitors. With this knowledge you will be able to tailor the content of your website to target your activities to maximize the usefulness of the website to the users which in turn will increase the number of visitors your website gets.

or put more simply it will let you know which topics to blog about – whats the point in blogging about topics no one wants to read?