Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool offering detailed visitor statistics.
The Google Analytics tool can be used to track all the usual site activities: visits, page views, pages per visit, bounce rates and average time on site etc.
But it can also be used to specifically track Adsense traffic – therefore helping webmasters to optimize Adwords adverts based on where visitors come from, time on site, click path and geographic location.
Modeled on Urchin’s analytics tool, after Google purchased Urchin Software Group in 2005, Google Analytics was first rolled out in late 2005. The response was overwhelming and Google had to suspend sign ups only a few days later. After a short period using a lottery type of invitation system – the tool made generally available in August 2006.
The purpose of Google Analytics is to provide site marketers and other people with information about how the site is being navigated, how successful current marketing efforts may be (including conversion statistics), whether there are any site usability issues and a wealth of other information that can be used to improve site marketing efforts and site usability.
And here are a few common terms you want to know when using most analytics programs:
A page is an analyst definable unit of content.
This means its you who decides what a “page” is, including not a very page like technology like Flash and Ajax.
Term: Page Views
The number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed.
Content, such as XML feeds (RSS or Atom) and emails that can be delivered to both web browsers and non-browser clients are not typically counted as page views because the request or receipt of the content does not always correspond to the content being displayed.
A visit is an interaction, by an individual, with a website consisting of one or more requests for an analyst-definable unit of content (i.e. “page view”). If an individual has not taken another action (typically additional page views) on the site within a specified time period, the visit session will terminate.
Different tool providers use different methodologies to track sessions. Ask your tool provider how this metric is computed. A typical time-out period for a visit is 30 minutes, but this time period is configurable in many web analytics applications.
Term: Unique Visitors
The number of inferred individual people (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe, with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period.
Term: New Visitor
The number of Unique Visitors with activity including a first-ever Visit to a site during a reporting period
Term: Repeat Visitor
The number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of two or more Visits to a site during a reporting period.
Term: Entry Page
The first page of a visit.
Term: Landing Page
A page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort
Term: Exit Page
The last page on a site accessed during a visit, signifying the end of a visit/session.
Term: Visit Duration
The length of time in a session. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session.
The referrer is the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object
Term: Internal Referrer
The internal referrer is a page URL that is internal to the website or a web-property within the website as defined by the user.
Term: External Referrer
The external referrer is a page URL where the traffic is external or outside of the website or a web-property defined by the user.
Term: Search Referrer
The search referrer is an internal or external referrer for which the URL has been generated by a search function.
Term: Visit Referrer
The visit referrer is the first referrer in a session, whether internal, external or null.
Term: Original Referrer
The original referrer is the first referrer in a visitor’s first session, whether internal, external or null.
A visitor completing a target action.
OK enough technical stuff.
You need to add Google Analytics to your marketing plans because tracking your website results can mean the diffence is making money or losing money, fast.
Add Google Analytics to your marketing plans now whlle it's fresh on your mind,
Budget: $100.00 to $250 a month for labor
Now, more technical stuff:
rather than opening your analytics tool and getting overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles, focus on factors that will help you understand the whys and whats around your desired outcomes. Here are the key analytics for most organizations:
Top Fixed Metrics
1. Keywords -- What top 20 words and phrases (keywords) your users enter into Google or other search engines that drive them to your site?
- Reveals: What people want from your site.
- For most of the people who come to your site, it's very hard to understand their intent.
- But knowing these top search terms is like mind reading.
- Action Items:
- Develop more content related to these terms for your site, and increase use of terms (within reason, search engines can smell manipulation from a mile away) within the site. Catering to users builds traffic.
- Search on Google and Yahoo for your site’s ranking on these terms (where your site stands in the list of search results).
- If your website doesn’t come up on the first page when you search on these terms, do more search engine optimization (SEO) to move up the list. (More on SEO in coming months.)
- If these terms are not aligned with your organizations focus and/or communications goals, you have a lot of work to do to revise your content to reflect the words and phrases that are central to your organization’s agenda and promote your site to drive interested users your way.
2. Top referring web addresses
- Reveals: Which websites your users are coming from.
- Action Items:
- If you have not initiated a relationship with the top 10 referring sites, do it now. These are your friends.
- If you see that there are sites that should be sending you traffic but aren't, contact them to form an alliance and discuss linking to your site.
- Included in the data about referring URLs is an even-more-important data sub-set: Referring websites for all users who reach a certain goal, for example, clicking through to an online petition or to a certain number of pages on the site. Make sure you set up such usage patterns as goals, and track them. These sites are your most valuable partners.
3. Top 10 pages visited (a.k.a. content popularity)
- Reveals: Why users are coming to your site.
- May validate your goals and expectations, or not!
- Action Items:
- Milk those top 10 pages, making sure you link out from other pages in your site to what you consider your key content from those pages.
- Look at conversion rates on these pages. If they’re not good (2% or more), then adjust the graphic and/or narrative elements on the conversion (e.g. subscribing to emails, downloading or contacting you via an email link or form).
- Create more content and functionality around what is drawing users’ attention.
- Evaluate if what you are trying to draw attention to is what users are looking at.
- If your site users aren’t getting to the pages most vital to your nonprofit marketing success, revise the content, SEO elements and/or site architecture for those pages. Also, link to them from your most-visited pages.
4. Percentage of site visitors who visit the home page
- Usually Reveals: Why you shouldn’t put so much focus, and dependence, onto home page use.
- Most users will enter the site via a search engine or another site, directly to an internal page.
- Action Items:
- Knowing home page usage levels enables you to better calibrate the resources dedicated to your homepage versus most-used internal pages.
- In many cases, sites spend far too much effort on their home page and far too little on popular internal pages.
5. Site bounce rate
- Reveals: The number of visitors who stay on your site just a few seconds, so weren’t engaged.
- Action Items:
- Before you can put this info to use, you have to figure out how long a user has to be on your site to be considered engaged.
- To get a sense of this, ask a few people to run through a typical scenario on your site (making an online donation or finding program information), and time it.
- Dig deeper to identify which referring keywords and inbound links (web addresses linking to your site) generate traffic with high bounce rates. This is traffic you don't want.
- De-emphasize these keywords in site content and tags.
- Visit these referring sites to ensure you’re linked to in a way that accurately reflects your site content. If not, request a correction, providing a more effective blurb to make it easy to change.
6. Conversion Rate (goals and funnel)
- Reveals: The percentage of site users who “convert” by subscribing to e-alerts, making a donation or however else you measure conversion. For example, you can track how many users reach your donation page and what percentage of them makes a donation.
- Reveals: Which marketing channel (your organization’s e-news, links from colleague organizations or the Google Ads you just launched last month) produces the majority of your conversions, enabling you to focus on those and cutting the non-performers.
- 2% is the standard conversion rate.
- The “conversion funnel” report (in Google analytics) reveals what pathways to and through your site are most likely to lead users to conversion.
7. Most Frequently Searched for Keywords (assuming your site has a site search tool)
- Reveals: What users are looking for within your organization’s site.
- Action Item:
- Make keywords more prominent in core content elements (home page, headlines, sub-heads and site menu) and title tags.
Top Trending Metrics
Don’t forget to note how usage is growing over time—month over month, year over year—in these data points.
- Unique visitors.
- Repeat visitors.
- Pages per visit.
- Conversions, including:
- File downloads.
- Online donations.
- E-newsletter sign-ups.
- Inquiries (via email/form).
- Time visitors spend on the site (although far less relevant now that browsers enable users to keep multiple windows/sites open concurrently.)
How are you using web analytics to strengthen your nonprofit marketing impact?
What are the top website usage metrics your organization focuses on to understand your audience and improve your site? And what’s your process for putting those insights to work?