5 Simple and Powerful Ways to Use Google Analytics

If you haven’t started using Google Analytics on your website(s) or blogs, I highly highly recommend it. If you’ve set up an account but rarely look at it – I recommend you start looking.

If you haven’t started using Google Analytics on your website(s) or blogs, I highly highly recommend it.  If you’ve set up an account but rarely look at it – I recommend you start looking. (If you need a tutorial on how to set up and install Google Analytics, you can find it here.)

First of all – what is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free analysis tool which gives you information on where your website visitors are coming from, which pages they visit, how long they stay, and a lot more.  There are plenty of paid stat counters available which present data in different ways, but Google Analytics is one of the best, and it’s free.

One can over-analyze or under-analyze any website.  Some people spend too much time checking stats, analyzing, and planning, and don’t spend enough time writing good content and getting new readers to their blogs.

On the other side of the pendulum, you could go on week after week, blindly publishing content and flailing along with offsite promotion, without seeing what results your campaigns are getting, which types of content is the most popular for your visitors, and which traffic-generation techniques are getting the best results.

The first is like tuning your car’s engine every day without ever turning on the ignition, the second is like driving in the dark.

In between, we have a happy balance.

I find that the best times to check stats are when I don’t have a lot of time to do a more intense project, or when I am a bit too tired to do anything more “heavy.”  Sometimes just before I go to bed at night is a good time to check into what has been happening between my visitors and my websites’ pages.  I can browse and poke around in my Analytics account and learn quite a lot – even with minimal energy.

Here are 5 simple and powerful ways to use Google Analytics:

  1. Find out which of your website’s pages are getting the most traffic, and optimize those pages.  If you are running ads on the pages, make sure they are properly placed and updated.  If you are linking to affiliate products, make sure your links are up-to-date and that you aren’t missing any links or new products which should be there.  If you are using that page for some other purpose, such as to generate subscriptions or what-have-you, make sure that the page is laid out as well as possible.This can be helpful if you have a large website which has a long “to do” list and many things to optimize or tweak.  By just starting with the most heavily-trafficked pages, you will get the maximum results from your efforts and also know where to start.
  2. Find out which referrers are generating the most traffic, and continue to generate traffic from those referrers.For example, if you see that Twitter is generating a large amount of targeted traffic, you can increase your activity on Twitter.  If you see that your article submissions are getting new visitors from article directories, you can remember not to drop those out – or possibly increase them. Conversely, if you see that you have been spending time/money on a traffic-generation method which is not getting very far, you can stop wasting your time on it (presuming you have given it time to take effect).
  3. Find out which keywords you are ranking best for, and see which ones you can “push to the top.”
    If you had a website on dogs, for example, and found that you were ranking at #30-#40 on Google for many keywords, but ranking #11 for, lets say, “dog chew toys,” you might want to work on increasing your rankings on dog chew toys and focus more of your SEO efforts on this term (of course there are other factors you would consider as well, such as the searches and competition for this term).  Climbing from position #31 to #20 will generally not get you a huge increase of traffic, but climbing from position #11 to position #3 usually will.  Focus first on the keywords that have the best chance of ranking high in the near future, and then move on to the others.
  4. Find out which pages keep your visitors the longest.
    If the average visitor on Page A stays for 5 seconds, while the average visitor to Page B stays for 150 seconds, the likelihood is that your visitors find Page B’s content more interesting than Page A’s.
  5. Look at the graph of your bounce rate.  This tells you how many people left your site without visiting a second page.  Depending on the website and the page, this may be a good or bad thing.  But if you have a blog or a content site, it is usually a good sign if people stick around to see more of your posts and content, before they leave.If your bounce rate increased or decreased after you made a certain change, you can opt to revert that change or keep it.  For example, if I changed the theme of my WordPress blog and then noticed a date-co-incident increase in my bounce rate, I might consider changing it back 🙂  This statistic can be used in many ways – it will depend on the nature of your blog.

There are many, many other ways to use Google Analytics.  The above are great ways to start, if you aren’t familiar with or used to using this tracking system.  Google Analytics can give you a far greater understanding of what’s happening on your site and can guide you to continue on successful actions and drop the unsuccessful.

The following video from Google can give you much more information on the possibilities which exist.  Google Analtyics is free and easy to install.  If you are serious about your website, I highly recommend you utilize to its fullest potential!

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12 Responses to “5 Simple and Powerful Ways to Use Google Analytics”

  1. North Dakota Housing
    June 13, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    I’m trying to get Google Analytics working with my Bebo page. It tells me to copy a code into my webpage but it doesn’t tell how I’m supposed to do that.
    .-= North Dakota Housing´s last blog ..Rental homes- easy to find =-.

  2. Luca
    June 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Hi Anna,
    Google Analytics is a fantastic tool that I admit don’t use enough. I have to find some time to poke around and learn all the features. As you say there’s a lot you can learn from those stats.
    I too like to check stats at night but for me it’s not a good thing. I start looking around and always seem to get sidetracked and end up going to bed really late.

    I also use a WordPress plugin called Statpress. It’s not as detailed as Analytics but gives a good overview

  3. Tom
    June 15, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    I’m finding my bounce rate is really high – i’m not sure if people are closing the page before it loads (too slow) or not finding the content useful – is there anyway to know?

    I don’t use analytics to its full capacity (I suppose in the same way I don’t use all the features in word) but I am a bit addicted to looking everyday to see whats going on with my stats!

  4. Anna
    June 18, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    @ North Dakota Housing – I don’t know enough about your website to answer that, but I suggest you check the Analytics Tutorial, or the tutorials/forums of any special software you might be using on your website.

  5. Anna
    June 18, 2009 at 2:01 am #

    @Luca – that makes two of us. I haven’t been using it enough either! But like you said, just by poking around and experimenting with the different features here and there can go a long ways. Its amazing how much you can learn about your website in a few minutes, with some of the graphs and charts in there.

    I know what you mean about going to bed too late. I suppose I go to bed too late anyways so I hadn’t really noticed much difference 🙂

  6. Anna
    June 18, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    @Tom – You might try testing your site load times or see if there is anything else you can tweak that might improve your bounce rate. Just make sure you write down the time and date of any changes you make to your site, so that you can compare them to your analytics data later on, and see what effects your changes have.

    There are lots of tutorials and data on Google Analytics – I have more to read up on and look into and I will probably post more about this in the future. But the best thing is to just start using it, looking at the data, experimenting with different options and graphs, etc. That itself goes a long ways.

  7. How to make a website
    June 29, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Great post! Thanks a lot btw I’m in love with analytics!

  8. saurabh
    July 23, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    i don’t know so much about Google analytics.this is really wonderful. useful one. thanks.

  9. jim
    August 18, 2009 at 6:35 am #

    this is great. i just love Google.

  10. Benivolent
    August 22, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    Fantastic article!

    You make excellent points here. To say I’m impressed with the volume of the information would be an understatement especially with 5 simple and powerful ways to use Google Analytics. As we are web development & SEO company, practically we are enjoying the same.

    THanxs for sharing those great informations with us.

  11. saurabh
    September 1, 2009 at 7:14 am #

    this is a great post on Google analytics. its looking useful and helpful too. thanks .keep sharing.

  12. carl@4 wheel alignment
    November 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    ive just started using analytics, i find it very easy to find the exact information i need, unlike some of the other free ones ive used. i wonder if using analytics would change how a website is listed in the serps

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