I’ve been doing the consulting thing for a while now.  Today I came across something that kind of blew my mind away.  I was setting up my blog and getting everything working the way I wanted, when I came across a “Tracking Script” section.  On the left hand side it says “Visitor tracking script, The JavaScript code from i.e. Google Analytics.”  Of course, the word Google immediately caught my eye and my curiousity flew through the roof.

 What is Google Analytics?

Well, if you’ve ever hosted a web site before, at one point or another you’re going to wonder how much traffic is going to your site.  If your site is a form of marketing for you, then you’re probably also going to want to know not only how much traffic, but also where is it coming from.  What are the demographics?  My current host for my consulting firm has some traffic information that I can access at all times, which is nice, don’t get me wrong.  However, once I went and signed up for Google Analytics and started researching it, I immediately wanted to replace what I was using.

How much does it cost?

This is going to really get you.  It’s free, as in beer.  If you have a gmail account already, then you’ve got everything you need to go ahead and set up an account for analytics.

Basic Features

It will track traffic at a domain level, and provide you with the following features:

  • Visit Information

  • Page Information

  • Bounce Rate

  • Average Time on Site

  • % New Visits

  • Map Overlay

  • Traffic Sources Information

  • Content Information

  • Email reports

    • Instant and Scheduled Emails

    • PDF

    • CSV

    • XML

    • TSV

  • Export Reports

    • PDF

    • XML

Advanced Features

Analytics has a concept of “Conversions” which tracks how people actually use your site.  You can identify certain pages as being a “Goal”: for instance, a thank you page that a user would hit after they’ve filled out a form, something to that effect.  Once they hit that page, Analytics will mark that visit as a “Conversion Goal”.  This allows you to track your ROI on your site, and is implemented very well.  The interface is clean and intuitive. 

Final Words

I’ll be implementing this on a couple of sites and write a followup of how it goes.  I have a few concerns about performance since it looks as if it will be pinging an external server on every page request, but so far I haven’t had any noticeable differences.

 Stay Tuned!