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Web analytics: getting to know your site visitors

March 12th, 2009 by mdmcginnis

Do you want to know who is visiting your website? Here’s what Google Analytics tells us about our websites each day – for free:

  1. Total number of visitors
  2. Number of new visitors
  3. Number of repeat visits
  4. Total number of pages viewed
  5. Average number of pages viewed (per visitor)
  6. Your visitors’ geographical locations and what languages their browsers are set to use
  7. What network they’re coming from – which lets you see, for example, if on-campus visitors have different interests than off-campus visitors (and they do).
  8. Bounce rate – the number of visitors who leave after visiting only one page.
  9. What browser and operating system they are using – are they using an old browser? A new cell phone?
  10. Visitor loyalty – how often they come to your site, how long they stay, how many pages they view
  11. Traffic sources – what search engines or web pages referred them to you
  12. Keywords – what they searched for to find you
  13. Content – what pages they viewed when they arrived. And what was the last page they viewed before they left?
  14. Event tracking – records their interactions with any Flash-driven element, such as a Flash Movie player, embedded AJAX page elements, page gadgets, and file downloads

It’s hard to believe that Google Analytics is free. Experts agree that it’s superior to most of the paid analytics programs on the market. It produces beautiful graphs and charts, downloadable spreadsheets, and highly-configurable reports.

Of course, behind every statistic, there are real people, and people can be hard to understand. But knowing what your visitors are doing can help you figure out why they’re doing it. For example, your most common exit page may be a good page that answers all their questions, or it may be a bad page that confuses or frustrates them.

It’s easy to sign up for Google Analytics. Then you just need to add six lines of code to each of your pages, which is easier to do if you use “include files” for your headers, footers or navigation (but then again, “include files” generally make website maintenance easier).

Next installment: What web analytics can’t tell you about your site visitors

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 Analytics
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2 Comments to Web analytics: getting to know your site visitors

  1. […] can’t tell you about your site visitors March 13th, 2009 by mdmcginnis As we’ve said, web analytics can give you an amazing amount of information about your visitors, which can help you to serve them […]

  2. What web analytics can’t tell you about your site visitors | Aggie Webmasters on March 13th, 2009
  3. Yes! It’s so tempting!

  4. Monty on December 22nd, 2010

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