While there are many commercial analytics tools available, and many hosting accounts come with free analytics, a tool we highly recommend is Google Analytics, which is easy to install on your site. Some of the key features of Google Analytics that will help you with your marketing include:
- Keywords (under Traffic Sources > Keywords)
While you may have compiled a list of keywords to use in optimizing your site, you don't know how people are really finding you. The Keywords feature in Google Analytics tells you exactly what search terms are bringing people to your site—and which ones stay there.
- Traffic Sources (under Traffic Sources > All Traffic Sources)
Where are your readers finding you? Who is talking about your site and linking to it? Can you use any of these sources to increase your traffic load, perhaps by partnering or advertising on these other sites? Are the people who come from these sources staying around to read additional parts of the site? These are all things you can determine with your Traffic Sources information.
- Activity Over Time
With the Google Analytics Dashboard, you can see your activity for any range of dates. This can tell you what times of year you need to work on generating more traffic, if your marketing campaigns have had any lasting success, and what the average number of pages per visit have been over time.
- Top Content (under Content > Overview)
Here you'll be able to learn what pages on your site are most popular. Do you have many people on your support page? Perhaps you need to create better insert information for your product. Do you have a certain article that has remained popular over time? If so, consider writing another one on a similar topic or expanding the current article.
- Landing Pages (under Content > Top Landing Pages)
How are people arriving at your site? If a page other than your front page is the most popular landing page, how can you alter that page to have all necessary information to make a sale or get the reader's interest in the rest of the site?
- Exit Pages (under Content > Top Exit Pages)
If most of your readers exit on the landing page, you have a problem. On the other hand, if most exit through your contact form or through your store, then you are doing very well!
- Visitor Profiles (under Visitors > Overview)
Who is coming to your site? What browser are they using? How many repeat vs. new readers are you getting? These are all important questions that you can address by studying your visitors. This information helps you design and upgrade your site, create new content, and develop new ways of encouraging your customers to stay a little longer.
- Site Overlay (under Content > Site Overlay)
This is one of the coolest features in the Google Analytics package: the ability to follow your users through your site in a graphical way. It displays your user flow data on top of your site, showing you where people click once they are on your site. This helps you design your site to direct traffic better.
Google Analytics is easy to install, as it's just a simple snippet of code that Google will provide to you. One tip: You might want to install your code at the bottom of every page and template so that it doesn't slow down (or prevent) the loading of the page if Google's servers are having a bad day.
You can learn more about Google Analytics by taking the tour, reading the Official Google Analytics blog, or trying out these 5 things.
Looking for more functionality from your reports, greater support, or a package you can purchase and customize? Try VisiStat, Crystal Reports, or Urchin.