There are a plethora of Website Analytics tools available to choose from! Some are free and others will cost you money. The decision of which tool to use is yours and yours alone. We use Google Analytics as our primary data gathering and analysis tool. But that is us (The fact that it is free is secondary). You may choose another platform.

Once you have chosen the tool you are going to use, you will need to set it up. The process is relatively the same with each product:

  • Sign up
  • Grab your Tracking Code
  • Insert Tracking Code into your website
  • Verify that Tracking Code is installed correctly!
  • Wait for Results to roll in
  • Scratch head – What does this all mean?

Sign up

The signup process are all pretty simple and straightforward (Duh, who would make a hard sign up process?).

Google Analytics Signup Screen

Grab Your Tracking Code & Insert it into Your Website

This is easier then you would first assume. Don’t let all the “code” scare you. In most cases you are simply taking a code snippet and inserting it in a predetermined location in your website. These days, the bulk of  Website analytics vendors are using JavaScript (for better or for worse) to connect your site to their analytics platform.

Back to Google Analytics….. Here is an example of a standard tracking code snippet used by Google.

Sample GA Tracking Code

Oh dear! What is all that about? Well, if you really want to know, check out the Google Analytics Code information page. Otherwise, have faith that the developers of the Analytics program you are about to use know what they are doing!

This tracking code snippet should be included in your site’s pages so that it appears at the bottom of the page’s HTML (or generated-HTML) structure, before the closing <body> tag.

Verify that Tracking Code is installed correctly!

So you have installed your JavaScript code snippet. How do you know it’s working? Well, you can be sure that it is working if you start getting data. But, how do you know that your Web Analytics program is tracking all of the pages you want to have tracked? Duh! Good question. Imagine if you have implemented the code, but it is only tracking part of the activity on your website? You are dead in the water before you get started.

Things get a bit more complicated as no 2 websites are identical (in form or platform). For example, we use WordPress for all of our sites (exclusively). Adding tracking snippets is very easy as there is no coding to do at all. Just implement a nifty WordPress Plugin and paste your tracking code in. Presto!

Where and how to implement your code is heavily dependent on what platform you use. Don’t mess with this if you don’t know what you are doing. As soon as you get into Content Management Systems and complex URL structures, you better be very sure as to what you are doing. This is probably a good juncture to ask  your Webmaster to handle the implementation for you.

Wait for Results to roll in

Some vendors provide instantaneous data. Others do not. For example, Woopra collects and processes data instantaneously. This can be very useful if you need to make split second decisions and cannot wait overnight for the site statistics to roll up (IE Google Analytics). Example: an eCommerce site with lots of products and/or promotions.

Scratch head – What does this all mean?

If your website has been around for a while, I will assume that you already have traffic. This being the case, you will have reams of data looking at you straight in the face. What does it all mean? My advice is to to not get overwhelmed. Website Analytics software vendors are in a heated battle to outdo one another. This translates to what I mentioned previously (reams of data). Sadly not everything you see will be useful to you or your business. The trick is understanding what is important and what is not. There is no use falling in love with a set of data that is meaningless. Not to worry, I will address data analysis (cutting through the BS) in future posts.

Sidenote: This may be obvious… But make sure that you filter out traffic from yourself (your company?) (and perhaps your competitors….) as it is really meaningless in terms of getting an accurate view of who is coming to your website and the associated interactions. This actually reminds me of a funny story about a friend of mine who was so very excited about all the traffic his website was getting. I had to reveal the truth about what a narcissist he was as 70% of his traffic came from…. himself. What a blow to his self-esteem!

NB: Always keep in mind that the data that is captured by most vendors is on their servers.

Is your anaytics code installed property – and do you know what to measure?

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