Google Analytics, formerly called Urchin, is a web application that tracks your site’s visitors. All you need to do is insert a little JavaScript tracker into your web pages, and then wait for the data to trickle in. Looking at numbers and graphs isn’t boring once you visualize the crowds that these numbers represent; think of it as a virtual pat on the back for your hard work maintaining your site. What’s more, with this data in hand you can go back to your site to optimize it.

 Here is some of the feedback you get from these statistics, with explanations of how to act on it:    



  • A page is very popular. Think about why that might be the case. Was your article especially well-written? Was your information hitting on a recent trend? Were you offering a great product? Knowing the reason for this might inspire some changes on the page, or give you ideas for new material elsewhere on your site.

  • A specific search query results in a lot of people finding your site via Google. Take a look at the keywords people enter, and check out what page they land on when coming from Google—and think about the first impression you’re making on them. As the saying goes, your visitors spend 99% of their time on sites other than yours. Maybe it’s time to emphasize a link, or add an introductory blurb somewhere on the side.

  • Your home page got heavy traffic yesterday. Check the referrer statistics to find out who linked to you, and track the source of the traffic to find commentary and feedback about your site. React to the feedback, if needed.

  • Your home page got heavy traffic yesterday, but you don’t see a spike from any specific referring site. Perhaps your home page address received a mention in a radio or TV show!

  • People spend mere seconds on most pages, but a full minute on one other page. Compare the pages in question to find out why there’s such a big time difference. Also, use your server log to trace the path they took through your site, retracing your visitors’ steps.

  • Your server was sluggish on Monday and you’d like to know why. Check your stats to look for a peak. Maybe there’s a server script with suboptimal performance that needs rewriting?

  • Many people filling out your order form suddenly leave at form page 2 out of 3. Maybe there’s something on page 2 they didn’t expect, so check it out and fix it if needed.

  • What, traffic is dropping? Maybe it’s time to take a break from checking stats, and get the word out again—by contacting webmasters, talking to readers or customers, getting involved with the community, or adding great content to your site.

In other words, all of these data points are tools equipping you to do a good job, whether you consider yourself a webmaster, an e-merchant, a news blogger, a web artist, or anything else or in-between. On the following pages, you will find hacks that could improve your mastering of this tool—and thus, your site. Additionally, there are tips and tricks that can help you market your site.

 Get Started with Google Analytics

log in to Google Analytics (,  you need a Google Account.

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