What are Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools?
Google provide a lot of free resources that can be quickly and easily used on your website. Here are a few reasons why Google Analytics and it's sister Google Webmaster Tools can benefit your website.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool that can be used to track how well your website is doing.
It goes way beyond simply counting how many people are visiting each page by providing information like where they came from, what they searched for to find you, which browser they were using and how long they spent on your website.
Before you get too concerned, although Analytics does provide a wealth of information about visitors, all information is totally anonymous.
Information it does provide about visitors includes things like the city and country they are visiting from, the browser they are using, as well as the operating system, the screen resolution and other general information like this. It can tell whether they have visited before, how long they stayed and how many pages they visited when they did.
Ever wonder whether you're adverts were worth the money or how people found out about you? Well, with Analytics you can find out whether they found you in a search engine, from a link on another site, or whether they came directly to you.
But its more than that, you can find out what they were searching for when they found your site and whether they found it useful - or not.
Finally, you can also find out which pages are most popular, least popular and which pages most people enter or leave your site on. This will allow you to work out whether or not the content of your pages is actually relevant and where you might need to do some more work.
For most small businesses, the free analytics tool is a good and in depth way of finding out how your website is doing. It can be immensely useful in determining how well your site is doing and where improvements can be made. Especially since it is real data from your own website.
At Doive Designs, we install Google Analytics as standard to all our websites and this is included for no extra cost. We then use this information (along with that gathered using the webmaster tools - below) to track how we can best work with you to make the most of your website.
What are Google Webmaster Tools?
Webmaster Tools are a selection of other free resources offered by Google. A couple of the tools we find most helpful are outlined below:
Sitemaps are files (using a technology called XML) that tell Google the addresses of your main pages, as well as how important they are and when they were last updated. By submitting this list, it means that you can be sure that Google knows where your pages are, though it is still important to remember that it still may not see your website as relevant.
A list of words which Google has determined as being most relevant to the content on your website. These words are generally determined by hyperlinks to and from the pages on your website, both internally and externally. It can actually be quite surprising which words are seen as most relevant, as its not always the words you might expect.
If you have ever wanted to know whether your website is actually showing up in people's searches, then this tool is really useful. These statistics show how many times, and at what average positions, your web pages are showing up in real searches. These stats can be very informative, especially if you are wondering why the visits to your website are low.
The free webmaster tools provided by Google can be used, along with the Analytics tools to help you determine whether or not your site is performing as it should. Other tools I haven't mentioned here include ones which inform you of errors in your pages, how to use robots.txt to hide certain areas of your site and other settings for your domains.
These tools, as well as Adwords can be combined to help you to optimise your website, but as Google themselves are keen to point out - your site is for humans - not robots. So these tools should only be used as a guide and as feedback on performance. Above all your website needs to be user friendly.