Google Analytics

One of the website tools that can help you make sense of the use that is being made of your website is Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics/.  This is a free website metrics application that allows you to analyse traffic to your website by using tracking codes instead of using website logfiles. 

Google Analytics will provide you with the usual set of visits, page views, browser type and location data that you can get from most of the website statistics and analytics products.   I’m going to concentrate on one of the tools in Google Analytics that can be used to find out some information about what users are doing on your site.

Site Overlay

This useful tool allows you to look at where users are clicking on your web page.  This ‘Click Map’ shows which elements of the page are being used.  Careful use of this information can help you to redesign text, images or location of content to optimise your site.  However, there is one ‘feature’ you need to be aware of.  Links that go to the same place have their clicks added together (and note that GA also treats any links that go to an external site as going to one place) .  So if you have more than one link going to the same URL the results will show the same.  The solution to this for internal links to to setup variations of your links so you can track them individually.

Segmentation

One of the things to bear in mind is that internal users, external users and people updating the website will exhibit different behaviour.  That may skew your results.  If you can identify ranges of IP addresses that are used (by internal users for example) then Google Analytics lets you segment your users into different categories by IP address.  In that way you can identify what different types of users are doing and ensure that you have a better idea of what your actual users are clicking on.

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