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February 9, 2011

Google Analytics Decrypted

While Google Analytics is probably the most important tool you will ever have at your disposal as an internet marketer, it is, no doubt, rather daunting at first. Not to worry though, here’s what you ABSOLUTELY need to know…

Upon logging into Google Analytics, you will be greeted by a colorful looking dashboard (if you have more than one website, just select the one you want to look at). The dashboard is broken up into the following sections:

o Site Usage
o Visitors Overview
o Map Overlay
o Traffic Sources Overview
o Content Overview

Site Usage

This section essentially covers the traffic/usage element of your website’s metrics. Most importantly are visits, bounce rate and average time on site. “Visits” is the total number of visits to your site (by humans, not spiders) over the time period specified (top right hand corner). “Bounce rate” is the percentage of visitors who visit your website, and leave almost immediately (ie, non targeted visitors). An acceptable bounce rate varies from industry to industry, but try to keep it between 30% – 45%. “Average Time on Site” is as it says – is the average time each visitor spends on your site. You want to try increase this figure over time and get visitors to “hang around” – using video is a great way to achieve this.

Visitors Overview

On the surface, this is a simple line graph, providing a display of how many visitors you’ve had over the time specified time period. Click on the “view report” link for more in-depth details on these visitors.

Traffic Sources Overview

The goldmine of Analytics data – where is my traffic coming from. This displays the relative percentage of traffic originating from either search engines, referring site or direct visits. Ideally, you’ll want to increase your search traffic (either organically or using PPC) over time. Once again, clicking the “view report” link will provide in-depth data on the sources. Check who’s referring the most traffic and see if you can capitalize on it. Also, have a look at the keywords that you’re featuring for in search engines and consider optimizing for them (if you haven’t already done so).

Content Overview

This area simply shows you what your visitors are looking at (the “/” means your home page). You may be surprised to see that your visitors are spending a lot of time on your internal pages, which means you’d better ensure that the content is top notch!

And that is the Google Analytics dashboard in a nutshell. As long as you understand what these main metric represent, you will be able to fiddle and figure the more complex metrics out along the way. It’s amazing how much rich data Analytics provides, and best of all, its free!

Derek Jansen is the founder of Nitch – an SEO implementation and SEO training company.