Expert: Dan Allen, LoveAccess.com

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About the Expert

Dan Allen is CTO of Love Access, an innovative companion matching system that has been helping singles find love online since 2002 and the first dating site to offer privacy ensured instant messaging/web cam chat. In addition to managing the technology and development of Love Access, Dan spends his time developing his not quite ready for prime time, review and article site, contributing to the Boston chapter of Ubuntu, creating artwork, reading and writing. Dan’s engineering experience and savvy with just about everything tech made him an obvious choice for the bash and we are pleased to bring our readers his post on using Google Analytics.

So you’ve created a website or started a blog, but do you know who’s visiting it, or more importantly, why they’re visiting it? With the help of Google Analytics, you’ll be able to answer those questions and many others. It’s free, quick and easy to set up, and provides information that you probably won’t find anywhere else. So what’s the big deal? Why should you use it? Here are a few ways you can use it to improve your content:

Overview When you log into Google Analytics, the first thing you’ll see is the Executive Overview. This page gives you a quick glance at four useful pieces of information:

  • Visits and Pageviews – this section shows you how many visitors you had for the week, and their average amount of pageviews. This is a good way to watch your site/blog’s performance over time.
  • Visits by New and Returning – with this section, you can see the balance between people coming back to your site and people coming to your site for the first time. As your site/blog grows over time, you want to see your New Visitor percentage slowly decrease and Returning Visitor percentage increase. This will show that as you’re getting new visitors, many older visitors keep coming back for more.
  • Geo Map Overlay – this section shows a small map of the world, with yellow dots to show where your traffic is coming from. Knowing where your visitors are coming from can help you with marketing and keywords if you write about local or global content.
  • Visits by Source – this section is a great way to see how your visitors found you. This will let you see the balance between new organic traffic, returning visitors, people that found you by word of mouth, and marketing campaigns if you have any.

Marketing Optimization This section has more in-depth reports than the overview. While they are all useful in their own ways, here are the ones you’ll want to check:

  • Visitor Loyalty – you can find the Visitor Loyalty report under the Unique Visitor Tracking section. This page will give you a better idea of how many visitors keep coming back to your site/blog. Remember, SEO is a good way to get traffic, but you need good content to keep them coming back for more.
  • Visitor Recency – you’ll find this report right below the Visitor Loyalty one. Of the returning visitors you saw above, this page will tell you how often they’re coming back.
  • Referring Source – this report is under the Visitor Segment Performance section. This page will show where your traffic found you, how many visits you got from each, and their average number of page hits. This can be a great way to get an idea of the types of sites you want linking to you.
  • Overall Keyword Conversion – this report can be found under the Search Engine Marketing section. This is probably the most important page for checking how your keywords are performing. This page shows how many clicks you got for each of the search terms shown, and the average number of page hits for those visits. This will give you an idea to the importance of each of your keywords, and how they relate to the rest of your content.

Content Optimization This section will give you a good idea of how visitors are spending their time on your site/blog.

  • Top Content – you can find this report under the Content Performance section. This page shows how many times each of your pages are visited, the average amount of time someone spends on that particular page, and how often people leave your site/blog from that particular page.
  • Length of Visit – this report can also be found under the Content Performance section. This page simply shows the average amount of time people spend on your site/blog.
  • Entrance Bounce Rates – this report is under the Visits by Source section, and will show you not only the first pages that your visitors are seeing, but also how often they’re viewing that one page and then leaving. This can let you know if you need to improve your site/blog’s navigation.
  • Top Exit Points – this report is right beneath the Entrance Bounce Rates page, and will also show you how often visitors are leaving your site from particular pages. This can give you a heads up on pages that may need improvement.

There is a lot more info available than the sections that I mentioned, and you should decide for yourself whether or not they’re relevant to you. The sections above will not only show you how your site/blog is performing over time, it will also give you hints as to which keywords to expand on or drop, and which pages out perform others. This can point you in a direction that will make your site/blog stand out from the others. Rather than molding your writing style after someone else’s, it lets you see how your own writing style works and how to improve it. Remember, keep your content unique, easy to read, and most importantly, keep it interesting.