If you’re new to website analytics, it can take some time to familiarise yourself with all of the ins and outs. Here are four of the frequently asked questions users new to web analytics put to the experts.
Check out our latest post on the most important reports in GA.
When I log into Google Analytics there is no data to view…
The most common problems people experience when first setting up their web analytics tools are usually due to not having set up their tracking code snippets correctly. When you insert the tracking code in to the HTML or page source of your website, copy the code snippet and paste it directly into the backend of your website.
If you cannot access web analytics after inserting this code, try copying the code and pasting it into a plain text editor, and then pasting it into your website HTML. Even small formatting changes such as extra spaces or different types of quotation marks can wreck havoc with your tracking code – which needs to be exact to work correctly – and pasting first into a plain text file can get rid of any formatting issues.
If you are tracking the analytics of multiple websites or have access to multiple analytics accounts, you may be confusing the tracking snippets between account and websites. Ensure you are viewing the correct account and profile.
Why does the number of new visitors and repeat visitors not equal my total web visitors?
To users new to web analytics the above seems common sense, but once you have a better understanding of the metric of a visitor in web terms, rather than thinking of a visitor as one individual user, all becomes clear.
Essentially, there is really no such thing as a new visitor when you are considering the analytics of a website over an extended period of time. If a visitor makes their first visit on a given day, and then returns to the web site on the same day, they are both a new visitor and a repeat visitor for that day. In terms of web analysis, a new visitor is not an individual – it’s really just a measure of web data. Thinking of visitors as individuals can be misleading when considering your web data, so try to look at the big picture, rather than focusing on finer points.
Why is it important to analyse trends?
As touched on in the example above, it’s far more beneficial to use your web analytics data to identity trends, rather than nit-pick over absolutes. It can require some discipline on your part when you’re starting out and there is so much incredible data at your fingertips not to start implementing changes and ‘improvements’ right away, but easy does it – especially when you’re first starting out.
Adapting your website based on one-off incidences or visitor anomalies would be jumping the gun, right? You wouldn’t overhaul your site because you’ve had one bad traffic day – instead you’d look at the traffic over the course of a week or a month so get a feel for overall traffic trends, which can, of course, be influenced by day of the week, public holidays, and even the weather.
Using trends to look at the big picture of your website’s performance is the best way to gain insight and make informed and measured adjustments to improve the web experience you offer users.
I just don’t get it…
If your web analytics are leaving you confused and frustrated – and taking valuable time away from your business – it may be worth considering utilising the services of an expert. An experienced web analytics professional might cost you a small investment, but the return can be well worth it when the analysis and trending information they can pull from your raw data begins to really make sense in terms of real-world business.
Web analytics can be incredibly useful, but if they’re just not your thing, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing the work so you can get on with business.