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Analyzing Google Analytics

Posted on: August 6 2013 | Posted in: Client Help

On a daily basis, we at office use Google Analytics to analyze web site stats for our clients and New Orleans portal sites such as BestNewOrleansHotels.com. It’s an efficient tool to see how many people are visiting a site, how they’re getting to a site, and details about what pages they’re visiting on the site.

Google Analytics gives website owners mountains of data: website visitors per day, traffic sources, keyword queries and bounce rates -- the kind of data that can determine the performance of a website and its marketing campaign. However, when reviewing reports, keep in mind there are issues with accuracy to keep in mind.

Analytics uses Java-Script

The website code that Google uses to track visitors on a website is Java-Script based. Java-Script is type of programming language built into websites' browsers that is often used to make them interactive. It’s an option that can be turned off in browsers, and if its turned off, those visitors won’t be counted by Google Analytics. Estimates range that between one and 10 percent of internet users turn off their Java-Script, making an error range of one to 10 percent for Google Analytics reports.

Analytics uses Cookies

In addition to Java-Script, Google Analytics uses Cookies, small files stored on a user’s computers that hold data related to a specific website. Google uses it to track visitors, to determine things like if a visitor is new or a repeat visitor. Estimates range from three to 25 percent of people turn off their Cookies, meaning those visitors are not showing up in the reports either.

The code must load

Google Analytics only works when the code loads. Some designers and web developers put the Analytics code into a design, where it’s the last thing to load. Sometimes this results in the code not loading, so the visitor may not be counted before leaving the page. It’s an easy fix -- just move the code closer to the beginning of the document. Because the code loads asynchronously, this doesn’t delay the loading of the rest of the page.

Heavy traffic websites may not see the full picture

Instead of a full report, websites with high volumes of traffic may only get a sampling of their traffic stats. Google says that to input all of the data would use too many resources, so in the name of speed, they give you a sample of it. Therefore, it can give a webmaster an idea of their stats, but it doesn’t show the full picture. The sample data may be showing information from the first quarter, but it if doesn’t show traffic stats from Mardi Gras season(for example), it’s not giving the true picture.

How do we track visitor statistics? We still use Google Analytics because it’s one of the best ways to get a quick picture of the location of visitors, the keywords they use, and how much time they spend on the site. However, we don’t stop there. We also use stats from our server logs (data that comes directly from the website server itself), to see how a website is progressing and what areas can be improved upon and which areas are successful and should be duplicated.  We also prepare a customized report of marketing metrics data to show our clients the success of their marketing strategy through us.

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