Google Analytics and other similar statistics package are invaluable if you want to understand how your customers use your site and find out what is working and what isn’t.
When you visit a website that has Google Analytics installed, it places a web cookie on your machine. It uses that to assist Google in reporting the following information anonymously:
- Time on website
- Pages visiting (in order)
- Time on each page
- Operating system and screen resolution
- Referring (previous) site
- Details if users have come through from paid advertising e.g. Google Adwords
- Rough user location (City / Country / Continent)
- User network (Can identify organisation networks)
- Plus much more
How to use the information ?
There are two ways that I think people should use the data:
- To monitor the success of changes made to the structure of the site for the purpose of user experience. The aim here is to increase the amount of time users spend on the site, in the right places.
- To monitor the success of changes to content and search engine optimisation tweaks with the aim to increase the number of site visitors.
Most people won’t need access to all the data provided by google analytics so it’s easier to ask for PDF reports to be automatically emailed out each month or week.
Attached is an example report from the College that I look after. It shows the majority of information that I think is useful to someone at the university who looks after a single website.
- Page views – The number of times the page has been loaded, regardless if it is the same person.
- Unique page views – The number of times a page has been loaded, but not taking into account repeat views within a half hour period from one user.
- Average time on page – This is a very useful figure but each page has to be taken into consideration as a table of links should only be viewed for a seconds, whereas a blog post like this, you’d hope, will have been read for at least a few minutes.
- Entrances – This is the percentage of users for whom this was the first page they visited on your site (in one session).
- Bounce rate – This is another figure where you have to take into consideration what is on the page. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit one page on your site and then leave. Don’t be disheartened however, this may mean that they have come via google directly to the page they wanted, read the page and then left.
- Exit – The percentage of users who left the site after visiting this page.
- Page value- This is only relevant for ecommerce sites.
How to get access
Get in contact with your local web marketing officer (WMO), I’m the WMO for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. If you don’t know who to contact, see the Web Team’s Who we are page.