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What Is Web Analytics?

Web Analytics is the collection of data and analyzing that data to help you understand the behavior of your visitors within the site, where your visitors originate, how long they remain engaged on particular pages, if they are returning or first time visitors and a great deal more. You will then be able to optimize the website based on this analysis.

One important statistic is the Bounce Rate percentage of visitors as this will indicate if your page loading is slow and people give up and go elsewhere, your pages don't engage the person because they are not interesting or attractive, or your keywords are wrong and the pages don't relate to the content for which they are searching.

Another statistic is the CTR (Click Through Rate) which is a percentage of how many clicks your webpage link receives when displayed on search engine result pages. If the CTR is is high and into the tens of percentage points then the displayed result is working and attracting visits. If the CTR is in single digit points then you would want to determine why the result it is not attracting clicks.

 analytics location data


Where Can I Get Free Analytics?

One of the best that also has a free version is  Google Analytics which is web based. You add some small script code into your web pages that Google supplies which has a unique ID. Google tracks and records data when your web pages have visitors. The other type is self hosted software running directly on the server where your website is located. You will need to sign up to get an account for Google Analytics. The free Google version is extensive in its features and provides a great deal of various types of easily understood information.

Other free analytics systems are Piwik and Open Web Analytics where you can download and install the software and run it from your web server. They are comparable to Google Analytics. Prerequisites for installation need to be considered as there is a minimum PHP and MySQL version that needs to be running on your web server.

There are many other Web Analytics services available, some are fee and others are subscription based.

Self hosted analytics software is usually already available in the web management console for your website from your web hosting service provider. If you are using cPanel, then "AWStats" in the "Metrics" section has very useful visitor and web bot data and many other statistics which are continually logged and stored on a monthly basis.


How Do I Use Google Analytics?

After logging into your Google Analytics you go to the Admin section and from the Account drop down box, and select the "create a new account" option. Fill out the details and copy the Analytics tracking ID code. Place the code script into each web page you want tracked for analytics. This script code prompts Google to record the page access. It should be as easy as pasting it into your Web CMS in the appropriate section that inserts scripts just before the  "</body>"  tag of each HTML page.

analytics tracking code

After a few days, data should start accumulating in the "Reporting" section. Some of the more interesting statistics is in the "Audience -> Geo -> Location" which shows all the locations around the world where people have browsed your web pages. There is also the "Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages" stats that show visits to your different web pages, the average time spent on a page and the bounce rate. You can sometimes drill down to display reports with greater detail on each average statistic.


Tips On Using Google Analytics

Two important aspects need to be addressed to be able to have reasonably valid data.


Spam Bot Scurge

Spam bots can ruin your data statistics. Spam bots can often be detected from within the "Audience->Geo->Language" section and will be easily recognizable as long and often weird descriptions which are distinctly different from the valid language codes such as "en-us" and "en-gb" etc. From Google Analytics go to Admin -> View Settings ->Bot Filtering ->Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.  Tick the option box and click the "Save" button.


analytics spam bots


Exclude Your Browsing

You need to exclude yourself from the data because each time you browse your website it will show in the analytics data. Setting a filter in the administration section of the google analytics console will allow you to exclude your public IP address. This IP filter must be changed whenever you reboot your router because your public IP address will possibly change unless you have a static IP address allocated from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Google... "What is my IP" to get your current public IP address.

 analytics ip filter

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