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January 24, 2011

Is Google Analytics The Best Way To Record Website Visitor Statistics?

When you’ve set up a website and you’ve gone live to the world, the first thing you’ll want to know is who’s been visiting your site and how did they like it. So, how do you check your website visitor statistics, the number of visitors, where they came from, what they did on the site, etc?

Well, you need to use some form of visitor tracking, which is a piece of code that you add to your site that does all that for you. The code will link to a tracking facility and record statistics about your visitors and where they go on your site.

Probably the best known and most widely used is Google Analytics. It’s free and it’s available at, all you have to do is sign up for an account.

When you put in your information, Google analytics will generate a specific code for your site, which you can paste in to the page you want tracked or into your main website template. It’s really simple to do in HTML if you’re using a blog or content managed system, or it will take your webmaster just a couple of minutes to do it for you.

Then, once the system has been running for a few days, you’ll get an incredible amount of useful information on the performance of your site. Some of this information is very detailed and will be of more use as you get more experienced with the site and your marketing campaigns but, for now, you’ll probably find that the dashboard showing an overview of your site performance is enough to start with.

The dashboard comes up when you sign in to your site’s account. Shown on it are the key results that you can use to assess your site’s performance and each element on the dashboard can be expanded to show more and more detail within that element.

The first element is a graph showing the number of visitors each day, usually what most people initially want to see. For more detail, you can pick alternative statistics like what percentage were new visitors, how long they were on the site, how many pages they viewed and how many left without viewing a second page (the bounce rate).

This is the information that will tell you how many people you’re getting to your site and how interesting they’re finding it when they get there.

In the content overview window, you can find these statistics for each of the individual pages on your site. Here, there’s even more detail available, for example, which page visitors entered or exited by, or which keywords they used to find that page.

When you look at all this information, at first it may just be too much, but, as you experiment with it, you’ll find that it contains the feedback you need to make changes to your site and content, so that visitors stay longer and view more pages.

Also on the dashboard you’ll find a map showing the visitor numbers by specific countries. This map gives you access to your detailed visitor statistics on a country by country basis, so that you can target your content more specifically.

The last element on the dashboard is the traffic sources report, which shows the percentage of traffic coming to your site directly, through referring sites and via search engines.

If you are regularly writing articles or getting links from videos or other sites, (all very effective and free ways of increasing your traffic), then this report will be of great interest. As well as showing the total percentage/number of visits through referral sites, it will also show, in more detail, every site that is referring traffic to you and the number of visitors coming from each one. This information is essential to gaining a really good picture of how your article submission sites or individual referral links are performing.

As you will see, Google analytics is an indispensable free tool which will become more and more useful as you develop your site and begin using paid methods to bring in traffic.

When you’re at that stage, you can start setting targets and using the more advanced reports available to confirm that you’re getting positive results for your expenditure and actually making a profit. But more on that in another article.

Shirley Crichton is a UK information marketer, passionate about sharing what she has learned with people new to this often confusing world . Do you want to learn more about getting your internet marketing business started and profitable? Claim your free and comprehensive 95-page report ‘Online Marketing Made Easy’ at to give yourself a head start.