Once your site is up and running you need to start gathering data about your visitors. Who are they, where do they come from, how did they find your website and how do they navigate your site? All this data can be used get to know your customers, so you can improve your site and your online business. But how do we get these insights?
Would I have written this article a decade ago I would have shared dozens of options to gather website statistics. But for a few years now there is one player that dominates the search engine landscape, and one of their most popular services is Google Analytics; the all-in and free website statistics program. There is nothing even close to this program so no need to look any further. Unless you really dislike Google; in that case use Bing and good luck finding an alternative ;-)
So Google Analytics it is, what can I do with it?
You can do more with Analytics than you ever need to. It tracks basic visitor statistics like number of unique visitors, pageviews and time on your site, but also how people arrive at your website. A feature I love is that you can easily see how visitors of your site behave; what pages do they spend most time on, what pages do they open after arriving at the homepage, etc. These insights are highly valuable to you as webmaster, enabling you to keep improving the content on your site to deliver your visitors what they are looking for.
For a full feature list, click here.
How do I install Google Analytics?
You need to register for an account at Google and register for Analytics. When registering they will show you a piece of code that needs to be added to your site; this is the tracking code. Most CMS templates and Website Builders let you paste this code in a designated setting, making it very easy to enable Google Analytics on your account.
Another service Google offers is named Webmaster. This is a free service that shows you all kinds of data useful to optimize your site: how your site is ranking in Google, any problems that the Google bots find on your site and an overview of other websites linking to your site.
While you are registering for Analytics, make sure to also register for Webmaster. Click here to find out more.
Alright, what's next?
You have quality statistics on your visitors from now on.
Congratulations! Let's start claiming your Social Media.