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If you have a website, it’s pretty much a given that you have analytics software for your site. Over just a few years, the software and capability of measuring the varied statistics of your site have gone from rudimentary, to more than most people even understand. I can still remember the days when using counters at the bottom of you page was common. Now we use software that does a bit more than count your visits. So, the question that we should ask ourselves is, are we using our analytics software for what it’s worth? Do you just log on, look at the total traffic and then leave? There is much more to your software, and as the internet gets more competitive, the necessity of viewing this information grows.

Let me discuss some of my favorite tools. Some of the tools are basic (and rather obvious) while others are more in depth. I’ll use Google’s analytic for this post, although much of the same functionality exists on other analytics programs.

One of the first things that I do when I log into analytics is to go to traffic sources, and then to keywords. In order to see how well I’m doing in getting traffic from organic search, I click on the “non-paid” link just below the graph of the page. This will display the keywords that are generating traffic from searches in the various search engines. By doing this, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what my visitors are actually looking for and which keywords are working. From an SEO perspective, this information provides a huge benefit. If you run a PPC campaign or have another source of drawing visitors to the website, being able to segment your traffic in this way is essential.

Goal tracking is great feature in analytics software that too often seems to be neglected. Setting it up is easy:

  • Click on analytics settings.
  • Click on edit next to the site you wish to create goals for.
  • There are four slots for goals in this settings page. Click on edit to create a goal in one of these slots.
  • Once you’re at the goal settings page, all you have to do is put in a URL for the goal. This is a page that should appear after the visitor has completed some sort of goal, usually a “Thank you” page.
  • Make sure that the “Active Goal” option is set to on, and then you are set!

If there are multiple steps to the goal (say it’s a shopping cart and they have to go through a couple pages to check out), you will want to put the URLs for all of the steps down below, on the same page. This allows you to see the progress of visitors throughout the goal process. For example, if a high number of customers are leaving your site once they get to the shipping page that may indicate that your shipping costs are too high.

Monitoring your goals lets you know how successful your online marketing efforts really are. After all, having a lot of people come to your website won’t mean anything if they don’t buy anything.

For more information and resources on using Google Analytics, look at their learning center with tutorials on installing, setting up and using their software.