Web Analytics 101

It’s generally a good idea to track activity on your website, even if you are not sure how or when you might use the data.

Activity can only be measured from the moment tracking is set up, so setting up analytics today will allow you to sooner measure and leverage site traffic, search, browser, and device patterns. Next year when you are ready to write a grant proposal, redesign your website, or spend marketing dollars, you will be happily armed with information about your audience.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a popular free tool (with a premium option) that provides robust results. You will need a Google account, which comes with a gmail account, though you may sign up for a Google account with any type of email account.

Once you set up Google Analytics via your Google account, you’ll get access to a tracking ID that will look something like this: UA-000000-01. Google will provide Javascript containing this ID that you will need to embed into your website’s source code. Google offers detailed directions on how to do this, or you can enlist the help of a developer friend.

If your website is built with WordPress, there are several plugins that allow you to set up Google Analytics without having to access the source code. All you’ll need is the tracking ID. Yoast’s Google Analytics for WordPress is a good choice.

There are free alternatives to Google Analytics, such as Open Web Analytics, Piwik, and Clicky. There are also premium paid options like Reinvigorate, Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, and Mint. If you are most concerned about accuracy, consider using more than one option so you can check, balance, and supplement results.

References Considered
Google Analytics Tip of the Day
Website Magazine