Tuesday, 27 April 2010

8 Cool Uses for Google Analytics

I was reading an article at SEOMoz on Choosing an SEO Company and there was something that struck me the most, a point he raised in #4. It was about Analytics Quality and it really did hit home for me. Sure anyone can install Google Analytics like James Scaggs said, but its what you actually do with all that data that separates the wheat from the chaff. I guess it got me thinking about all the things I could do with my analytics and I figured I might as well add it on here, after all, I've already mentioned using it for my keyword research. So, here goes nothing!

I'm no Google Certified Analytics Professional (although I'm working on it). What I've learnt is by trial and error, in fact if I say so myself, I think I'm not doing too badly with Google Analytics, all things considered. So here's a list of some things I use Google Analytics for on a good day:
  1. Traffic Number: I use it to know how many people visit my website, this includes new visitors or returning visitors. With this I would know whether all the 'SEO' I claim to be doing on a website is paying off or not... 
  2. Geography of my visitors: I have a look at this data every now and then to know the locality of the people coming over to my site. If I notice I've got lots of non-English speaking people then I do something about it, like language translators. Or, if my website was for a product/service found in say, Nigeria, and I noticed all my visitors where coming from everywhere but Nigeria, then I should be worried!
  3. Keyword research: I've already talked about this in a whole post before, so if you want to read about it, check it here. Bottom line, you have an idea of what keywords, including the long-tailed ones, bring people to your website.
  4. Bounce Rates: This data is used to check how captivating your website is. If a visitor comes to your site looks at only one page without navigating around, that's usually recorded as a bounce. It's normal for this to happen from time to time, after all, the person could have mistakenly clicked on your website or your website just wasn't what they were looking for. When it starts to get worrying is if it happens more often than necessary. So for instance if it your statistics shows a bounce rate of  50% or higher then you need to start checking things out. Maybe you're using the wrong keyword or your content just isn't quite it, you have to find out what the problem is and fix it.
  5. Goal Conversions: This is a very useful tracking tool. You can set up goal conversions to see how your website is doing for certain objectives. It could be getting your visitors to a specific page (maybe a registration page, or payment page) through certain 'steps' or web pages, getting them to read at least a number of pages or check the time spent on your website. Your type of goal all depends on what your website is about, whether its a personal/company blog, a website for selling products and services or an affiliate site, it all depends.
  6. Top Contents Pages: I use this to find out what content visitors like the most on my website. Sometimes this can be quite handy because it tells me what my readers like to read. I could then consider writing more articles related to that. Sometimes it could be you marketed that content a little more than the others, so be careful about that.
  7. Landing/Exit Pages: Related to the top content, landing page tells you how visitors got into your website. If your landing page is one of your top content, it could mean that page is well marketed or ranking high on organic searches (google, bing and yahoo) or other websites linked to it. Your exit pages like the name implies tell you what pages people use to leave your site the most. Go figure. If your Top Content Page = Top Landing Page = Top Exit Page, then there is a problem!
  8. Traffic Source: I love looking at this data! It tells you which sites mentioned you and people have actually clicked on it. So in a way, it gives you an idea whether all that linking building is paying off or not. It also tells you whether a lot of your traffic is coming from organic searches or from people directly typing your website on their browser and bookmarks.
Eight uses for Google Analytics! When I started out I wondered how many points I would be able to come up with, so I'm quite impressed. Which of these points do you use the most? What else do you use it for? As usual, I would love to hear from you guys. Is there something I missed out here? Let me know and I'll give you credit for the contribution on the post by linking to your site. If you're still in doubt about installing Google Analytics on your website then I hope this list makes you change your mind, immediately!
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