I wrote a post a few months ago about Web site analytics which introduced the topic of using analytics on your site to measure what’s going on. I’m a particular fan of Google Analytics as a tool, because:

  • It’s free (it’s hard to beat free!)
  • It’s easy to use
  • It has boatloads of data that you can collect
  • It’s customizable to your particular situation

In the video post here, I introduce a book by Avinash Kaushik, “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day“. Mr. Kaushik is really the expert in how to set up and effectively use analytics, and is a self-proclaimed “Analytics Evangelist”. He breaks it all down quite nicely in his book into bite-sized chunks, hence the title “An Hour A Day”.

I Have Urchin, Why Do I Need Google Analytics?

Many of my clients say that they’ve got Urchin, and they don’t need anything else. They look at it once in a while to see how many people come to their site, but that’s about it. Unfortunately, Urchin and other server-side reporting tools only give you after-the-fact information. It’s kind of like looking at the fingerprints after someone has been in your store to try to figure out what they’re doing. It’s just not very effective or useful.

Yes, Google Analytics is free, so it must not be very good, right? Actually, it’s true that it’s free, but Google gives you an incredible amount of data that you can slice and dice and create wonderful reports that show you exactly what’s going on with your internet marketing efforts.

Yes, you can set this up yourself, again for free. But you want to be able to set it up properly which takes a little work. For instance:

  • If all your employees have your Web site as their default page in their browser, you really don’t want to see that traffic. It’s useless traffic to your site that will never sell anything. So you need to set up filters to remove any traffic from yourself, your employees or your Web designer.
  • Your Web site should have some goals, which is when people sign up for something or buy something. Analytics can help you track all that by setting up internal goals.
  • Funneling your clients into the goals is important too so you can see which pages are performing and which aren’t.
  • You can track print media and other advertising efforts too by setting up trackable vanity URLs.
  • Have you added Analytics to your blog page? Make sure you capture all that traffic too!

I could go on. It takes some work to set it up correctly and make sure you’re getting “real” data, not just a bunch of noise. Even though the tool is free, and it’s easy to stick the JavaScript into your HTML, there’s much more to it, and Mr. Kaushik’s book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to be serious about measuring their efforts.

Put your Internet marketing plan in place, then measure it. I’ve been working on losing some weight these last couple months. If I don’t measure my progress, it’s hard to tell how far I’ve come. Analytics is the same thing. You have to measure your progress, and see what’s working and what’s not.