Using Google Analytics to improve your website

Google Analytics is yet another amazing product that has been churned out by the internet behemoth that is Google.  For those who are not familiar with it, it’s basically a free web based program that records your website statistics in all sorts of detail – for free!  All you have to do is copy and paste a small snippet of code and enter it into your own web pages and Google starts to record the data.

Using Analytics, you can see a list of keywords that people search to get to your website, what pages in your website are the most popular ones and you can even see what countries your visitors come from, to name a few things.

So, how is this useful to you?  I’ll give you an example.  Another website I run had one page in particular that was bringing in a large percentage of the traffic we had.  Strangely though, I saw that the bounce rate on this page was very high and people also weren’t staying on the page for very long, which is obviously a bad thing.

So, I went to the page to see if I could change things.  The forum post that was bringing all the traffic in was on a niche topic, which explained the traffic, but the information in the post was next to none and simply pointed users to another website.  I decided to edit the post and fill it with the info the visitors had been searching for so they had everything they needed, and I also threw in a few links to other relevant areas of my website.  It worked.

About a week later, I checked my stats and the “time spent” on that particular page had more than doubled, and the bounce rate was significantly lower than before.  With the insight Google Analytics had given me and by making one small change, I had harnessed a large chunk of traffic that had previously been just slipping through my website.

Like the example above, there are many more things you can do to give your website a healthy base of traffic.  Consider the example above just one small segment used to build up your website.  All you have to do is keep creating content so you have some traffic to play with and some numbers to work with.  You can then analyze which pages are working best and why they are working best, maybe you might even be able to make them work better.  Likewise, find the pages that don’t seem to be working well for you and tweak them so they perform better.

There you have it.  Content is king but if you want an efficient website where all of your pages perform to the best of their ability, you need to look at your stats.  Analytics is an invaluable tool and if you haven’t got it installed – do it now.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Could you make another post showing everything you can do in Analytics (or the useful things anyway) in detail? That would be worth a read!

    Great post either way!

    1. I shall put it on my to do list, thanks for commenting!

  2. Server logs are pretty useful – and you don’t have to sacrifice your user’s privacy to Google.

    1. Quite right, Steve. For the layman web developers though, analytics is pretty easy to use as opposed to having to access server logs. The way the data is presented in Analytics is enough for me to want to sacrifice privacy.

      You could easily argue that privacy is sacrificed with your average hosting company who have access to your logs too. Google aren’t all that bad.

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