By using a large number of website visitor trackers over the last few years, I first heard of Google Analytics some time ago, with the somewhat jaded attitude of someone who’s “seen it all” or at least “seen most of it”. What could possibly make this particular tool stand out in such a large crowd of competitors?
But First… What is Google Analytics?
This bring me to the to Analytics’ major selling point; the price. Webmasters are getting a complete visitor tracking service for free; while avoiding all the problems and limits that are normally associated with no-cost products.
It’s Free; But is it Any Good?
In a word; yes.
The absolute depth of collected information leaves little to be desired. It has the search engine analysis, page views, bounce-rates and more, the displays the data in a simple format that is easy to understand. It provides all of the essential elements, with the ability to ‘drill down’ to less commonly accessed or more in-depth statistics and figures.
Moreover, in July 2007, the Google Analytics user interface was discontinued, in making way for a newer, more ergonomic glance which makes reports more reachable and the interface itself more instinctive for the user.
The new Dashboard provides ‘at a glance’ visitor statistics for the previous month, and also a graphical collapse of your visitor’s geographical locations in the form of a world map. A pie chart clearly displays the visitor’s proportion, whereas the ‘Content Overview’ provides a list of the most commonly accessed pages.
What Makes Google Analytics Special Though?
Analytics boasts all the features and statistical data of a business-class keyword analysis and statistics tracker. It also features a number of additional tools that are easy to use.
1. The Map
Fundamentally, this feature brings up a map of the world, by highlighting the countries a site’s visitors stem from. Clicking on a country produces a close-up view, along with a geographical breakdown according to the region and/or city from which visitors accessed the site.
2. The Site Overlay
This is potentially Google Analytics’ single most important feature from a webmaster’s or online business owner’s perspective, as it provides a hands-on view of visitor conduct. ‘Site Overlay’ opens the tracked website in a new window and overlay’s each link on the screen appears with a bar, by showing the information about clicks ranges to the target page and goal values reached. Since it allows the webmaster or site owner to navigate his or her site and see clearly visitors behavior, it’s really hard to imagine a more useful tool than this as far as raising a site’s conversion rates is concerned.
3. Goals and Funnels
By not tracking your site, you are missing an opportunity to enhance sales or inquiries as conversion rates are as important as clear visitor numbers. The ‘Goals & Funnels’ feature allows users to set up some specific targets for their site, such as tracking a visitor to the ‘Thank you for your inquiry’ page for instance. It also allows the user to set up specific monetary values for each of the target, and thus track the site’s financial performance and fruitfulness during any given period of time.
The term “Funnels” refers to the specific path a visitor adopts to reach the target page. Since most websites sell a number of different product ranges or feature a number of ways to inquire, all of which lead to a single ‘Thank You’ page, the funnel efficiently allows for the tracking of each individual path with minimum effort.
4. Graphical Representations
A large number of visitor trackers out there will present the collected information in a certain way, in a list, graph, pie chart, flow-chart or whatever. Whilst all these methods of presentation are of course valid, it is nevertheless a fact that most users are diverse, and a pie-chart is not necessarily ideal for those users preferring to work with graphs or vice versa. However, Google Analytics allows users to choose between the views on many of its reports. Although this may look like a comparatively minor point, it yet makes things easier, by allowing the user to work with view of their choice.
Google Analytics efficiently provides webmasters and site owners a highly effective means of tracking visitors and analyzing statistical data, easily the equal of most subscription based services in the industry.
Although some concerns have been expressed amongst more suspicious internet users, that Google has put everyone’s collective data to its own evil demographic uses, there really are few good reasons not to recommend this fantastic tool as one of the best means to boost any web promotion and marketing campaign.