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Introducing Google Analytics

Learn the basics of Google Analytics, including definition of terms, simple data analysis tips, and where to find more information.

Google Analytics is a free, powerful tool for tracking usage of your website.  Google Analytics let you track number of visitors, time spent on pages, keyword searches used to find content on your site, and many other metrics.

If you don't already have Google Analytics installed on your site, it's easy to do so. Just go to http://www.google.com/analytics and sign up.  Google will give you a little snippet of code to place on each page of your website. Send that code to us through the technical support form on the Groundwire website.

Getting Started

When you first login to Google Analytics you'll see the dashboard, which gives you a nice summary of statistics for one month's worth of activity. There is a graph showing number of visits, and below that some numerical data for visits, pageviews, bounce rate, average time on site, and percent of new visits.

Watch the Google Analytics Interface Tutorial Video

Google Analytics uses a lot of terminology that you need to become familiar with. Here is a brief definition of the terms seen on the dashboard:

Visits
Visits are the number of times your website has been viewed. Visits are not individual visitors, but a total number of times your site has been viewed.
Pageview
The number of pages that have been viewed. This number is usually higher than the number of visits, unless everyone visiting only looks at a single page!
Bounce Rate
A bounce is a visit that consists of a single page view, and only lasts a few seconds. It's a measure of the percentage of people who visit your site and then leave quickly.
Average Time on Site
Fairly self-evident. It's the time spent on the site commonly given as an average of all the visits to your website.
Percent of New Visits
The percentage of visitors who are viewing your site for the first time. This is a big picture way to track repeat visits.

In order to dig into other website metrics, use the navigation links in the upper left corner: Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, and Goals. You can find a wealth of information here, and even start to set up goals to track how effective your site design is in directing visitors to the content you want them to find.

Interpreting the Numbers

So now that you have looked at your statistics, how do you interpret what it all means? The information given to you on the dashboard is interesting information for tracking aggregate trends on your website. You can answer questions like: what month did we get the most visits? the least? did publishing new content increase site visits? are we getting mostly new visitors over time or repeat visitors?

Read the Blog of Google's "Analytics Evangelist" Avinash Kaushik

Via the Content report you can find stats for any page on your website. You should be aware of which pages you want people to be reading and track metrics for those pages. In this way you can track individual trends for a particular set of pages, instead of an average of all site traffic like you see on the dashboard.

Once you get a feel for how to read the numbers, you can start digging into how you might change your website structure or content in order to better serve your audiences. You might find opportunities to leverage pages that are getting more traffic than you might have thought before. It takes time and thoughtful analysis to start using the full potential of Google Analytics. Consider it a long-term learning project which will require a significant investment of time.

Learn More

It's worth looking at the documentation on the Google Conversion University site. Some of what's there is very retail oriented, but the basic concepts are applicable to non-profits. Here are some highlights from the Conversion University that we think might be useful:

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