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June 15, 2010

Google Analytics: Advice

As a freelance SEO consultant I always set my clients up with a Google Analytics account. This enables them to keep track of what progress is being made and adds transparency to the relationship. However, there are usually a fair amount of questions directed my way as how to understand the data, and what exactly they should be looking for or expecting to see. The main aim of using Google Analytics is to keep an eye on traffic. Not only does this mean seeing how many visitors your site is getting, but also seeing where they are coming from both in the geographical sense, and via other sites on the internet. This article goes through a few basic things can help someone who is unfamiliar to Google Analytics.

The Dashboard

This is the first page that you will see when you enter the report. It is there to give you an overview on what is going on, and typically includes; Visitor Numbers, Site Usage Data, Unique Visitor Numbers, Map Overlay and Page View details. Any of these modules can be removed and if you’d prefer to include something else in the dashboard e.g Keyword data then you can. To add another module to the dashboard, simply view the report in question and click ‘add to dashboard’.

Visitors Vs Unique

Visitors At the top of the dashboard you should see a large line graph spanning the page. This graph shows you the amount of visitors or ‘hits’ your website has received. The standard display shows data from the previous month, with points for each day. This can be programmed to display whatever time period you prefer. You can also view time periods from the past to help compare past traffic levels against the present figures. This data shows the total number of visits and will include yours. The number you should really focus on however, is the amount of unique visitors. To get a more accurate view, you can block certain IP addresses from the report.

Traffic Sources

For anyone involved in SEO this is the really interesting bit. It is crucial for any online marketing that you can keep an eye on where the traffic is coming from, and also see what keywords are sending traffic from the search engines. If you are fortunate to spot a dramatic spike in traffic numbers this report will identify where they have come from. With regards to keywords, you can go into quite a lot of detail and find out not only which phrases send you the most traffic, but which ones are actually converting into customers. This is vital if you are engaging in pay per click advertising when each click is costing you money.

Site Usage

This is the bit that confuses most people. Once you understand what’s being reported you will find this information extremely useful as it lays out a very detailed report on what people are looking at, and for how long. The three most important things you should be checking are; Bounce Rate, Average Page Views and Average Time On Site. If your site is doing well, you should expect to see a low bounce rate, a relatively high average page view and again a relatively high average time on site (over 2-3 mins is good!). For poor performing websites the bounce rate is often very high, i.e people are clicking on the website and ‘bouncing’ straight off.

Kirsten Hendrich – For some more free advice and information on SEO , follow the highlighted link.