Understanding and utilizing the metrics of the world’s dominant search engine
There’s no denying that the Internet has fundamentally transformed the way we do business. As a constant and permanent media source, it has allowed businesses to reach peaks of unprecedented exposure not previously possible. Such potential for global exposure has not come easy, however, often complicating the old rules of seniority and tradition that exist in other outlets. For example, an established company like Walgreens can suddenly find itself pitted against startups like drugstore.com, due to the equalizing effect of the Internet allowing each business to run its own personalized website. Thus, in order to stand out, businesses must find new and effective ways to showcase their websites and break away from their competition. Enter Google Analytics.
So what exactly is this brand of Google service? Google Analytics is a free tool that generates detailed statistics by breaking down and monitoring the key metrics of a webpage. Among the key metrics measured are: the bounce rate, which shows how quickly a user or potential customer “bounces” or clicks off your page; the conversion rate, which measures when a viewer goes beyond a simple view and clicks on an item; traffic sources, which show how many visitors are flocking to your site and from where; social reports, which show the most prevalent social media site used to navigate to your page; the percentage of new visitors you are attracting; and last, but not least, the landing and exit pages, which show how long a visitor remains on each page, what percentage of them were attracted to delve further into your site and which pages they visited. Through careful analysis of these seven key metrics, a business may acquire a powerful insight into the minds of their customers, allowing them to adjust their marketing strategies to an even more precise audience.
Because of the insights provided by Google Analytics, many Jacksonville-based companies have jumped on board, by employinthe tool in their everyday businesses. Among them are DiscoverTec, a website design firm founded in 1994, when the Internet was still in its infancy; and TEC Works, which helpsprovide needed IT support to small businesses in Jacksonville and Orlando. Both companies are reliant upon the Internet for exposure and thus employ Google Analytics to measure their online efforts. As Chris Ramaglia, Executive Vice President of the Web Services Division for DiscoverTec, says, “We’ve hadtremendous success in using it. The ability to track and measure a marketing campaign’s success using Google Analytics has not only helped our own company to grow, but we’ve been able to consult and share this system with clients, as well.” Erick Wilson, President and CEO of TEC Works, also had great things to say about the online analysis tool. “I started using it about four years ago,” he says. “I initially found out about it from working on my website and doing a lot of research about what drives traffic. What I found most useful was how it informed us of the origin of incoming traffic, as well as its display of the keywords that were used to find us. The fact that it also showed the location of each visitor, as well as their bounce rates and landing pages, proved very helpful in growing our site. I know what drives traffic to the site, who visits and how often. I can also see what pages need to change by reviewing the data.”
While both Wilson and Ramaglia brought up alternatives to Google Analytics, such as Visistat, WebTrends, SEOMoz and Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, they admitted that the price and the results compared to other programs were hard to beat. “For me,” says Ramaglia, “the best part of Google Analytics isthat it is first and foremost free to use.” He elaborates, “Above all, it has the functionality and ability to track and set specific goals and campaigns.” With all the metrics that can be observed using the program it may seem at times that an entire team may be necessary to interpret the results. As Ramaglia admits, however, the program in and of itself is quite user-friendly; and if one were to visit the homepage for Google Analytics, there is a step-by-step process showing how each metric can be read. “The adoption is so universal for small to medium businesses,” he explains, “that everyone understands what it is.” Furthermore, as evidenced from the homepage, the program also features a help center with support staff to help interpret and guide you through any rough patches you may occur through use. “Almost everyone has access to Google Analytics data,” says Ramaglia. “The difference is interpreting it all into actionable data. That’s where it really counts.”
Jacksonville native Mike Hall has been freelancing since 2005 and plans to study architectural conservation later this fall in Scotland.