Here are some useful things you can do with Google Analytics.

Track users through your site

Suppose you want to understand how users end up at a given page in your site.

The resulting page shows you the top pages that people used in your site to get to this page, as well as indicating where people go to from this page.

Understand which links people click on within a page

The stats will tell you where people go from a given page, but they are raw stats. Sometimes it is useful to see where on a page people are clicking. A subtle change in the page design can have significant impacts on where a visitors eye lands and therefore where they click. For example, OSS Watch recently discovered that their navigation links on the right of the page are ineffective, people just don't seem to see them.

Google Analytics provides a really cool way of visualising this information.

This opens a new browser window in which you can see your site. The cool part is that there is now a little bar under each link that shows what percentage of the clicks on the page are given to that link.

You can now browse around your site and see the results for each page you visit.

This site overlay will also show you your goal conversion stats and your goal values if you have set any up.

Identify the cause of a spike in traffic

Sometimes you'll notice an unusual spike in traffic. To understand what caused this spike simply set the date range to encompass the spike and select "Traffic Sources" -> "Overview"

The resulting page shows you where traffic is coming from. The table at the bottom "Top Sources" is key to seeing where your spike comes from, usually there will be a single source generating most of the traffic. Use this table to drill down to find the specific source and therefore the cause of the spike.

Identify key referral sites

The table at the bottom of this page shows you the top sites referring traffic to your site.

Discover why people are referred to your site

Start off by finding the referring site that you want to examine (see "Identify key referral sites" above.

The resulting page tells you which pages on the remote site are linking into your own site. You can drill down even further.

Setting Goals and Funnels

Goals are specific pages that you want your visitors to go to. Funnels are paths through your site that you want people to take.

A useful goal would be to have people go to your download page (for a software development project).

Goals can be set up and tracked in Google Analytics. The url can be a "head match" meaning the left portion of the URL must correspond to a given setting, an "exact" match, meaning the URL must be exactly as specified or a "regular expression match", which means, well, a regular expression match.

To set up your goals click on "Analytics Settings" in the top right, then on the edit link for the relevant site profile and finally on one of the four goal slots.

When building and testing your regular expressions you may find this RE tester useful.

OSSWatchWiki: GoogleAnalyticsTricks (last edited 2013-04-15 13:56:28 by localhost)

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OSS Watch is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and is situated within the Research Technologies Service (RTS) of the University of Oxford.