[Dick Turpin points his pistol at Madame
Madame Desiree: That doesn't
scare me. I've seen bigger ones in my time.
Dick Turpin: That doesn't surprise me.
(Carry on Dick, 1974)
One of the things I’m asked about is from
people who have a web site for their business but they can’t tell
if they're getting any benefit from it. Sometimes a customer
will say they found their web site or they’ll be contacted through
their web site, but if you’re not directly trading online how do
you measure how well your web site is performing?
Take the club I mentioned in Carry
on up the Internet: You haven’t got Mail. They had their
web site but they didn’t know anything about how well it was
working. They didn’t know how many people visited their web
site, which pages they looked at, or anything else about how well
their site was doing. Their web hosting didn’t include any
usage statistics or access to log files. If they’d had access
to their web server’s log files they could have used software like
AWstats to see how they were doing.
I suggested they could add Google Analytics to
find out what was happening on their site. Google Analytics
is a great, free tool that we’ve used successfully with a lot of
our clients. Now for some, a tool which describes itself as
“…the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich
insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.”
may sound a little bit of overkill. When I told them it had
over 80 different reports I could see the look of fear forming
behind their eyes.
I had a feeling I was about to metamorphose
into Michael Winner in an advert for car insurance. So I took
a step back and showed them the Google Analytics dashboard.
One of the great things about Google Analytics
is that you can decide how far to dig into it. If you’re just
starting out you can see the most important information for your
site on the dashboard. Straight away you can see how
many visitors you’ve had, how many pages they viewed, how much time
they spent on the site, where they came from and the top five pages
they looked at. Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, you
can dig deeper into Google Analytics and figure out what else is
useful for you.
Adding it to a site is easy if you’re using a
templated content management system but if, like the club you are
writing each page by hand, copying and pasting the code into a
small web site isn’t too difficult either.