In Praise of Google Analytics
My industry pal Jim McGinley, one of the folks behind TOJam, turned me on to Google Analytics just as i was launching my site this past year. i assume that, being from Google, it’s insanely popular and everyone’s already heard of it. But in the off-chance that you haven’t, and you’re still using your website host’s tracking software like Awstats, give this post a read.
i won’t bother outlining how to add the code to your site or your Flash file – the Google folks have done an excellent job of that on their Analytics site. In all, i remember it taking about fifteen minutes, tops, to rig up my entire site.
Hello to My Friends in Biggleswade
One of my favourite featurs of Google Analytics is the map view. This clickable diagram highlights the areas of the world where most of your traffic is being generated.
Untold Entertainment: Big in Cambodia
The darker the area, the more traffic you’re getting from that country. Pretty neat. But i didn’t realize just how granular these data become until just this morning, when i started poking around the map a little. You can drill all the way down to the city or township that generated the hit. This is an uncommon thrill that feels a little like aiming a camera satellite into someone’s bedroom. i’m sure it’s only a matter of time, actually.
Google Analytics puts Biggleswade on the map
Google Analytics is largely a promotional tool to sell things like Google Adwords and Adsense, but you can use it for free (for now) as much as you like. i’m sure they’re using these data for their own nefarious purposes anyway. (Who actually reads those Terms of Service?)
One of the features of Analytics that’s meant to drive Adword sales is the funnelling/goals tool. You can use it to set up paths through your site to ensure people are doing what you want them to do – for example:
site membership info page > sign-up page > membership confirmation > t-shirt shopping page > checkout page > credit card entry page > thanks for your hard-earned cash page
You can assign dollar values to these goals. My site is meant to advertise my studio, so instead, i’ve just created two very simple goals to learn about the flow on my site.
One goal is from the website proper to the blog. The other goal is from the blog to the website.
Pro Tip: Try not to base major site strategies around one day’s worth of stats tracking.
If Google Analytics reveals that very few people are going from the blog to the website, i’ll probably have to jazz up the logo in the corner of the blog, or cook up more ways to drive to the site (getting better game content on my site is a good start ;) It will also address my suspicions that no one hits the site from search engine anyway. That’s the biggest drawback to having a Flash-only website. That’s actually what this blog hopes to remedy … but if no one is going to the site from the blog, i may be wasting my breath here.
More Bounce to the Ounce
One fun stat to try to chip away at is the Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of people who hit your site (usually from a search engine), see that it’s not what they’re looking for, and leave immediately. i relish the thought of creating a site that’s so fun and interesting that people who don’t find what they’re looking for stick around anyway. To lower your Bounce Rate is to cultivate your inner PT Barnum. As an entertainer, i see a low bounce rate as a direct reflection on my ability to entertain.
Sexy and famous ringmaster PT Barnum, after whom the Chrysler Cruiser was named. All true. Step right up.
Presently, my bounce rate is up around 90%. Pardon me – i have some web-only circus dogs to train.
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