Free Web Reporting with Google Analytics

As a small business it can often be a challenge to obtain deep insight into the workings of your information technology organization.  When it comes to web sites there have always been a number of decent, free tools that would do the job adequately, such as Webalizer.  But these tools require some level of additional setup and expertise which means either more time being spent on your own attempting to learn and manage another IT skill or paying your IT staff to do so.  Today we have another option.

Google offers a great, free product available online called Google Analytics.  Analytics is a complete website tracking package that sends all of its data to the Google Analytics website where you can view your statistics online or have a report emailed to yourself automatically at set intervals.  Google handles all of the code, storage and reporting involved in keeping tabs on your company’s websites making your job very easy and allowing you to focus on your business rather than your technology needs.

The system works very simply.  After signing up with Google as an Analytics user you go through a very simple process of adding a web site to be monitored to your account and then Google generates a small snippet of JavaScript code which you then need to copy and paste into the code of your website.  This works for multi-page sites and with most content management systems such as WordPress – although for a CMS you will need to check your CMS documentation to know exactly where to place the code.

Obviously it will take a little while for Analytics to begin collecting the data that it needs in order to generate reports for you.  After a day or so you should begin to see the reports in action, although it takes a month or more before the data that is collected will really begin being valuable to you.  Some of the most important data obtained from a web site is changes in your readership over time to alert you to when you are doing things right or doing them wrong for your market.

Google Analytics collects and collates a lot of useful information for you.  You can see breakdowns of which pages are drawing readers and which are turning them away.  You can see what search terms readers are using to find your site.  Analytics also provides a very nice map report that allows you to see your readership from around the world.

Using Google Analytics you can find out more about the users that your site is attracting and you can learn how they are using your site.  By obtaining this data you can learn how you can better reach you intended customer base or learn more about your existing customers.  It can also teach you what information on your site users are able to find and what process they are using to reach that information.  A tool like Google Analytics or Webalizer is a critical first step in making your web sites work for you.

Visit Google Analytics’s Features Page to learn more about the features available from this product.

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