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Today I’m going to discuss Google Analytics and why it’s important to have it installed on your website.  Hopefully this will help to demystify  Google Analytics and help you feel more comfortable using it.

See more in our series on Google Analytics:

Michael Holding

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.  It provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization and marketing purposes. The service is available to anyone with a Google account.  Currently it is the most widely used web analytics service on the internet.



Google Analytics allows us to show high level, dashboard style (via the Google Analyticator plugin) data for the everyday user.  More in-depth information is presented further down in the report.  It can identify pages that are under performing with techniques such as funnel visualization, where visitors to the site came from, how long they stayed and their location.  It is also integrated with other Google products like AdWords, Public Data Explorer and Website Optimizer.



Google Analytics is geared toward small and medium-sized retail websites. The service has limitations that make it less suited to more complex websites and larger enterprises.

Google’s system collects data through a JavaScript page tag inserted in the code of pages the user wants to collect data on. The page tag functions as a web beacon to gather visitor information. However, because it’s reliant on cookies, the system can’t collect data for users who have disabled them.   Google Analytics Tracking Code can also be blocked or made inaccurate by many of the ad filtering extensions and apps available.  These limitations are considered small however, affecting only a small percentage of visits.  Another limitation is that Google uses sampling in its reports rather than analyzing all available data and it’s not in real time.



Why use Google Analytics?

Simply put Google Analytics is an essential online tool for your website.  It can help you determine what elements of your website are connecting with your audience and which need to be changed.  

Without needing to get really deep into the technical side, you should use Google Analytics to figure out what content visitors are looking for rather than guessing.  

(Note that most social media channels, such as YouTube and Facebook provide some form of statistical analysis of the activity happening on them.)

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