There is a tool that can give you answers to these questions.
We here at The Local Lighthouse are total geeks (especially about stats and tracking results by the numbers) so it should go without saying that we love website analytics.
Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to gleefully comb through unique visitors, acquisitions, and conversion tracking like the team does. But you should at least know what it is and have it set up for your business website.
What is Google Analytics anyway?
Google Analytics is a tool created by Google that tracks your website traffic. Once it is installed on your website, the Google Analytics tracking code sends information to Analytics every time a visitor loads a page on your website.
When we are working on an SEO or Paid Advertising strategy for our clients, the team is always so bummed if they don’t have Google Analytics set up. Without Analytics, we are missing a ton of basic data about your current website visitors and how they are finding you.
Don’t miss out!
5 Things You Should Know About Google Analytics
Google Analytics has been around since 2005 and has always been free. We don’t expect that to change anytime soon. So all it will cost you is having The Local Lighthouse team set it up.
It Doesn’t Track Stats Until You Set it Up
Google Analytics isn’t tracking any data about your site until it is set it up properly and the tracking code is installed on your website.
That means the sooner you set it up, the better. Even if you don’t think it's important now, have us set it up anyway. Then, when stats become more of a focus for you, you’ll have weeks, months, or years of historical data to analyze.
The more you dive into Google Analytics, the more you will be amazed at all it can do. Here are a few things you can learn from Analytics data:
How many unique visitors came to your website last month
How long visitors stayed on your website
How many pages they viewed
Which pages tend to make visitors leave
The most common paths through your website (for example, if users tend to land on your home page, then click the “About” page, then the “Services” page, then the “Contact” page)
Which social media channels are driving the most visitors
How many visitors find you using search engines
Which of your blog posts are the most popular
What percentage of your visitors are on a mobile device rather than a computer
Where your visitors are located in the world
And so much more (data geeks rejoice!).
You Can Ignore Most of It, Honestly
What I hear a lot from business owners who try to look through their Analytics data is “OMG, there is so much there, I don’t know what to look at!”
It’s true. Google Analytics tracks a lot of user behavior and creates a ton of reports. But don’t let it overwhelm you.
You’ll want to focus most of your attention in the “Audience” and “Acquisition” sections. Ignore the rest to start.
We go more in depth about understanding Analytics data in our training library.
But What if My Platform Has Its Own Stats?
Is your website on Squarespace or another platform with built-in stats in their dashboard? Yes, you should have Google Analytics set up anyway.
Think about it: if you ever want to change website platforms, you’re going to lose all of your historical data if you only use your platform’s statistics. Years of traffic data gone. And trust me, it’s fun to see over the years how your website traffic grows and changes.
Google Analytics is free anyway, so you have nothing to lose in setting it up, even if you don’t want to dive into using the Google Analytics reporting and dashboards right now.
I hope that helps scrape the surface of Google Analytics for your website. Please feel free to comment below with any Analytics questions.
Chris Tabb is the creator of The Local Lighthouse where he leads tech strategy, activation and measurement of customer facing marketing efforts.
Prior to starting The Local Lighthouse, Chris was the lead technologist at Edelman where he oversaw strategy for top-tier clients including Activision, Cisco, Bush Beans, Netflix, Starz, and T Rowe Price. Chris is also recognized in the marketing space for his experience with data orchestration, tech stack alignment, and customer identity resolution.