Google Analytics is by far the most popular analytics service on the Internet with a market share of over 80%. Briefly, Google Analytics basically tells webmasters what is happening on their websites. This knowledge can be analyzed to identify website issues that must be addressed.
Google Analytics provides information like the website’s number of unique visitors, aggregate page views and the amount of time that users spend on the site. These are standard metrics used to gauge a site’s popularity and user retention rate over a certain period. Once these statistics are presented to the webmaster, it is up to him to properly analyze the numbers. For example, if a website’s users spend little time on the site but visit it in high numbers, there is probably a problem with the site’s content quality. The webmaster must figure out a way to engage his audience in a more meaningful manner.
A Google Analytics statistic like aggregate page views does not allow the webmaster to determine his audience’s happiness. It merely shows an idea of how popular his website is. What matters more is whether the users come back on a consistent basis, if they enjoy the content and if they recommend the site to friends. Once the site goes somewhat “viral” and attracts a wider audience then the Google Analytics statistic of “unique visitors” becomes important. If the unique visitor’s statistic does not gradually increase over time, then the webmaster has a serious problem. His audience has stagnated. His business is not growing its customer base. This is the type of statistic that is very important to advertisers as they want to reach a wide variety of different individuals. No business wants to advertise to the same audience day after day. Therefore, the Google Analytics’ unique visitor’s statistic can be considered the most important of them all.
Time on Site
Once a webmaster establishes a wide audience with an increasing number of unique visitors per day, week, or month, he must analyze the Google Analytics statistic called “time on site”. This tells him how long each visitor stays on his website, how long they spend reading the content and how much time they spend clicking through the site’s links. This statistic reflects the audience’s general interest level in the website. If the time on site numbers are low then the webmaster must consider significant revisions to his site’s content including an aesthetic revamping, a new user experience design or changes to the content.
Pages Per Visit
A webmaster has an issue if his “pages per visit” analytic is below 4. The average number of pages per site visit is usually between 4 and 5. Webmasters also have a problem if their “bounce rate” is high. Bounce rate calculates the percentage of visitors that view a page on a website and then proceed to leave without clicking any of the site’s links. Webmasters can benefit from Google Analytics’ detailed information as it can determine the bounce rates for individual pages, not just the site’s homepage.
Loyalty and Regency
Google Analytics’ loyalty and regency statistics help a webmaster determine his user retention rate. Loyalty statistics show how frequently a user visits the website. The webmaster has an issue with his content or user experience interface if users infrequently visit the site. Regency is the amount of time that has passed since a user last visited the site. This also serves as an invaluable tool if analyzed over an extended period. If a user waits a long time before re-visiting a site, then he most likely does not place a high value on the site’s content. Both statistics illustrate how important the website is to its visitors.
A Prolonged Analysis
Webmasters can identify traffic trends over certain periods of time with Google Analytics’ “over-time graph”. This allows the webmaster to determine if there have been any specific traffic pattern responses to certain promotions or if the site has experienced occasional downtime that he may have previously been unaware of. Webmasters can annotate sections of the over-time graph with ease to identify the reasoning behind spikes and dips in traffic. These annotations are like virtual post-it notes.
Google Analytics users are also permitted to track specific details of their site’s visitors. Such details range from the visitors’ geographic areas to what website referred them and what terms they originally entered Google’s search engine before landing on the website. This is invaluable information for a webmaster. It tells him all about his current visitors’ demographics. He can screen capture this information from his Google Analytics service and present it to potential advertisers.
Several new Google Analytics functions have been recently released. One of these is called custom variables. Google Analytics subscribers are only allowed 5 custom variables unless they opt into the upgraded version of the service known as Google Analytics Premium. Custom variables allow webmasters to determine what segments of site content help visitors the most, handle complaints more efficiently, monitor customer loyalty with the tracking of repeat purchases, determine which products are viewed the most and keep track of how many items are placed in virtual shopping carts.
These custom variables are essential to a website’s success. Webmasters want to be able to sift through a heavily populated e-mail inbox for important complaints. Custom variables perform this function. Webmasters will be able to compare satisfied site visitors with the visitors who complain to quickly identify and solve website issues. The custom variables tell webmasters the number of customers that ordered products only once versus how many customers completed multiple orders. These statistics also present information about how many how many items are put into customers’ carts, how many orders are completed versus those that are not completed and how many virtual shopping carts are abandoned, all this information is important to properly troubleshoot a website and to increase its generation of revenue.
A Diagnosis, Not a Panacea
It must be noted that Google Analytics is not solely capable of fixing a website’s problems. Google Analytics merely diagnosis the symptoms of the problems. It is up to the webmaster himself to determine the proper cure.