A majority of the website analytics products that I go into detail about in my blog have one thing in common: technical issues. This is never a good sign for any website analytics product, especially a provider that requires you to pay a monthly fee for the data. How is anyone going to believe that their website analytics product is accurate and reliable, when the provider is having trouble getting the map feature to work, or filtering out requested data?
Fortunately for Google Analytics, I have yet to run into ANY technical issues, which is why their analytics service is at the top of my free website analytics products list.
Here are some of the best features:
- Customizable Dashboard – Navigating through the large amount of data reports and features that Google Analytics has to offer can be overwhelming, time consuming, and frustrating; however, taking the time to customize your dashboard to include your most important data reports is going to help you avoid these navigational issues, and save you a lot of time down the road. There really is no right way to determine which reports are most appropriate to include on your dashboard, because it depends on what you are looking for.
- Bounce Rate Data– Ahh…good old bounce rate. This is one of the more useful data reports that Google analytics provides. Not to mention, I don’t think there are any other free website analytics services that provide bounce rate data.
Bounce Rate is a data report that basically tells you the percentage of visitors that leave your website to go somewhere else (site bounce rate), or leaves a certain page in your website to go to another page in your website (page bounce rate.)This helps the owner of the website determine whether or not their website’s pages and the respective content are effective at enough to capture the interest (a.k.a., visit quality)
- Conversion Goals – the conversion goal tool in Google Analytics is great way to define and track outcomes or actions that you desire from the individuals who visit your website. Google has a guide that goes into more detail about the tool, and instructions on how to set it up; however, like many of the instructions you find in Google Analytics, the goal conversion instructions seem like they were written by the designer, who seems to prefer explaining things in a way that can be difficult to understand for beginners.
Just in case, I have provided an easy to understand guide of my own: Setting Up Conversion Goals
- Context – Essentially allows you to compare one data report to another. Very helpful in assisting the analysts and decision makers.
- Map Feature – While a lot of these analytics services provide a map where the user can view the frequency of visitors in various locations around the globe, the interactive map feature on Google Analytics is one of the best that I’ve seen so far. Simply highlights the different regions on the map, instead of labeling them with a clutter of push-pins or tabs.
- Content Overview – Provides a table which shows a ranking of the top pages that are visited on your site as a percentage of all visits. If you want to verify how accurate it is, then create a website profile for the same site that does not block your own I.P. address, then manually records how many times you visit your own site, and verify your number of visits with Google’s data report.
- Lots of Graphs – You can view a majority of your analytical data on line or bar graphs. My only complaint about the graphs is that when you click on certain points of the graph, like the 18 visits your website had last Monday, it does not take you to that particular set of data for an in depth summary of who, when, what, where, etc.
- Segmented Data – One of the most useful Google Analytics tools. It allows the user to segment their data by user type, source, browser, among many others. The two segments that I tend to use the most is the location segment (country, city, state) and the Network Location, which I have given an example of in the pdf links below:
There are many more features and resources that are available through Google Analytics that were not discussed here. If you are intrigued, visit the site for yourself, and make sure you check out the helpful list that Manoj Jasra has compiled: 20 resources for Google Analytics.