Google Analytics is AWESOME!

Tis been quite a while since we had a “iA!” post over here, and inbetween all the CES/Engadget/1000 RSS items, it’s been quite insane. I guess that just comes about from trying to do 1 MILLION things at once.

Just between you and me, though, I’m heaps glad that I get to go to a place with scarce internet access. Although I hate to think of how my inbox and RSS feedreader will look like when I get back (over 1000 news items in NetNewsWire was not cool… I blame you, CES, Macworld, and Engadget!), it’s going to be great – no constant pressure to “do stuff”, just the constant “chill” of a (decidedly, well-deserved) holiday.

Anyway, today I’m here to talk about Google Analytics and why it’s awesome.

So… got a website? Need to have grossly detailed analysis of your website visitors, as well as such arcane statistics such as bounce rate, average time on site, browser capabilites, connection speeds, hostnames, screen resolutions, and literally all that jazz?

If so, Google Analytics is your friend.

Quick explanation: Analytics is a website monitoring tool. At it’s most basic level, it will tell you how many “hits” your website has got over a monthly period (you can adjust the time period), how many page views, how many pages per visit. In addition to this, the Dashboard tells you how long the average user spends on your site – as well as the percentage of new visits.

Diving in a little further, or just scrolling down the Dashboard reveals even more info – Map Overlays (where all your visits come from, drilled down to city), Traffic Sources (where all your visitors come from, eg direct traffic, search engines, referring sites), and Content Overview (which tells you what pages got how many hits).

But wait, there’s more!

Much, much, much more. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t use the vast majority of Analytics – there is a LOT of as-yet unharnessed power in it. Stuff that I wouldn’t bother with.

For instance, in the Visitors drilldown, we have an absolute plethora of information about your visitors, from what web-browser and operating system combination they used to visit your website, how many colours their screen could display, what resolution their screen was, as well as what version of flash and java they had.

In addition to this, there are Traffic Sources, Content, and Goals drilldowns as well, with the same level of in-depth information as the Visitors tab.

In a way, Google Analytics is scary. It manages to collect all this information from a small JavaScript embedded in a web page, which of course has to be embedded in all of your web pages that you want tracked.

As you may very well know, WordPress powers both freshbytes and this website, Benny Ling’s BLING. With WordPress, you can’t directly manipulate the HTML of a webpage, as it is automatically generated by the WordPress engine iteself. Instead, you have to add a Plugin to WordPress – for both freshbytes and this website, I’m using the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. Using this plugin couldn’t be simpler – install, put in your Tracking Code (Analytics will supply you with this), and boom, you’re done. This plugin will also track any outbound clicks, as well as any downloaded documents.

It’s thanks to Analytics that I can see that this website has seen a 275% increase in visitors over the past month, with a 337% increase over the past week. That’s not a bad effort, actually.

So, how did that happen? Massive, massive pimpage. Ever since the introduction of Press This, blogging has actually become enjoyable. Wading though the crap to see what is, and isn’t bloggable still isn’t as enjoyable, but Press This makes blogging… easy. Write interesting articles on your website. Get people to read them by pimping them wherever, whenever possible. Share the link in Facebook. Stick it as your status message. Tweet it. Whatever.

Last but not least… I still cannot figure out why the article I blogged about a while ago about the wife who set her husbands genitals on fire with metho (the husband, unsurprinsgly, died as a result) is still the most popular article on this website. Wait – my apologies. It seems that that article has now been pipped by the Seven reasons the Palm Pre is better than the iPhone article I did. The Macworld 2009 keynote summary I wrote (at 6:15am, right after the keynote itself :o) was also pretty popular.

Google Analytics is highly recommended if you run any kind of website yourself, or for a client, or whatever. Get it, you won’t regret it! Can’t argue with the price either – the best things in life really are free 😀

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