Urchin visitor tracking is now renamed ‘Google Analytics’ and is available to everyone for free! For those of you lucky enough to have signed up in the early stages, Google Analytics will open up a world of information you probably never knew about visitors on your site. For those not so lucky, you’ll have to wait till Google gets their act together and reopens the doors for new sign-ups to the tracking system.
Why you need Google Analytics website visitor tracking
Google Analytics provides free information about the way visitors to your site interact with it. It is an invaluable tool that all webmasters should use if they don’t already have some form of visitor tracking solution in place. Here’s 10 reasons why you need Google Analytics on your site:
- It is free. And it offers just as much if not more functionality than most expensive visitor tracking solutions!
- You need Analytics to understand how visitors use your site
- You can identify where visitors leave your check-out or sign-up process and modify it to prevent losing leads
- You can identify which pages and links visitors click on most and spend most time on, and position these pages and links appropriately
- Analytics also tells you which sites users came to your site from
- You can find out the most popular keywords users type into a search engine to find your site, thereby helping your search engine optimisation efforts
- Visitor segmentation by new vs returning users, geography and referral source will offer invaluable insight when planning future business
- Analytics integrates seamlessly with Google AdWords so that you can have almost end-to-end visibility in your search advertising results
- Analytics allows tracking of other non-search-engine marketing media
- Analytics will save you money and help you gain more customers
Pros and cons of Google Analytics
The benefits of using the Google Analytics solution are numerous. The fact that it’s free is mere icing on the cake.
- The setup is very straightforward and takes hardly any time
- It is a great solution providing a wide range of reports with a lot of flexibility
- Multiple sites to be tracked under one login
- Tracking campaigns from a wide variety of media is possible
- A/B ad testing is easy
- It integrates with all marketing media and can be used as a single portal to track multiple campaigns
- In depth reports on site navigation and use are invaluable
- E-commerce tracking is included
Whilst the Google Analytics package provides a vast number of useful bits of information, it lacks two major features which most search engine marketers need – the ability to track individual user activity or trace activity back to an individual user level and the ability to track activity akin to click fraud. The e-commerce tracking features are not very straightforward to use.
Most irritatingly, though, just like any other Google product offering, the customer service associated with Google Analytics is abysmal, if not completely non-existant!
How Google Analytics might change search engine optimisation
By offering a free web site analytics solution, Google have made a very sneaky and superbly calculated move in the war for search engine supremacy. Now that they have visibility not only into how Google users search for your site and whether they convert into sales on it, but also into how all visitors, even from Yahoo and MSN reach your site, how they use your site and whether they leave your site without making a purchase.
Armed with that sort of usability information, Google could not only undermine all your search engine optimisation efforts, but also use the data they collect about MSN and Yahoo! search results with respect to your site and use it to strengthen their stronghold on the search landscape.