“Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience. With this information, you can improve your website return on investment, increase conversions, and make more money on the web.”
That’s the Google definition. Here’s Sher’s definition, “Google Analytics is the rod that separates the winners from the losers, the professional from the pretenders, and the professors from the Bufords.”
I am always shocked to find really smart business men and women who spend a lot of money on a website, but who don’t have the first idea about optimizing a website and making use of Google Analytics. They don’t understand what analytics are about, how to use the reports there, and sometimes they really don’t know why they should.
Some figure if they have a counter or some free piece of code like Sitemeter stuck on their website, they are rocking out hard and totally in touch with what their visitors are doing. That’s like saying because I took my blood pressure at the Walmart pharmacy kiosk, I can also say with confidence that my cholesterol is low, my heart is in tip-top shape, and I am going to live to be 108.
Rather than beat you over the head in explanation of why you need to have someone hired who understands analytics, I’m going to tell you a story. That’s how my MawMaw used to explain things to me, and since she was the smartest, most wonderful human who ever lived, I trust this is going to work.
All I need from you is to imagine I’m smoking a Virgina Slims cigarette, we each have a big glass of sweet tea, and that my teeth are wrapped in a paper towel and stuck in my pocket in case company comes.
When I first began creating websites back in 1942, I had to kind of guess what my website visitors were looking for. I thought I knew, and sometimes I did. As my Daddy says, even a blind hog will get an acorn once in awhile. Using Sitemeter, I could see which pages my visitors were checking out most and I could tell (sort of), which websites were sending me traffic.
I thought I was kind of a wizard.
But then along came Google Analytics and my whole life changed. (Well not really my whole life. I still eat too much fried food and Elvis hasn’t yet come back for me….even though I know for sure he will.) With the introduction of Google Analytics, now I can tell you anything you can ever imagine wanting to know about my website visitors, up to and including what they had for lunch.
Wow. I’m really all about the big exaggerations today, aren’t I?
Let’s just say that while I may not know if they just finished a plate of catfish during the noon hour, thanks to Google I have truly amazing insight into who my visitors are, where they came from, how long they stay on my site, what cell phone they use to view my content, where they get bored, how their eyes are moving through my content, and SO MUCH MORE I couldn’t possibly cover it all here. It’s entirely fascinating.
If all that weren’t enough, now there is the real-time function which admittedly is my new drug of choice. I drop content, push it to any or all social media sites I want, and then watch that real-time number roll up like I just pulled the handle on a slot machine. Depending upon all sorts of factors (what’s on TV, the time of day, the day of the week, etc) I can catalog what happens and make really informed decisions about WHAT to post, and WHEN to post.
I just realized this is about the worst story I’ve ever told. There is no protagonist, no plot, and I didn’t even start this thing with “once upon a time.” I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s rainy here in Missouri and I haven’t had nearly enough sugar today.
What I want you to take away from this absolutely horribly written blog post is that the most delicious information about your website visitors can be found in Google Analytics. If you don’t have time to learn how to get at the juicy meat there, hire someone. If you do have time to learn, it’s well worth it. You’ll wonder how in the world you ever managed without it.
That’s it for me today. I hope wherever you are, you have enough sugar.
PS: If your MawMaw is still around, call her.