What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is one of the many tools that Google provides to webmasters and marketers. Like most of Google's many services, it is a free one. Google Analytics lets you discover various statistics about your website, such as the amount of traffic your site is getting, where your site visitors are coming from, and the keywords web surfers are using to find your site, among other things.
What are the Benefits of Google Analytics?
Google Analytics can provide you with over 80 different reports pertaining to visitors, keywords, usage, and much more. It is one of the best free sources of information for web developers in the world. In order to use GA, you'll need to install a tracking script on your web pages; all the logged information will be stored in a database and you'll be able to log into your Google account to access the information from any web browser at any time. You'll also have the option of anonymously sharing your site information with Google, which gives you the ability to compare your site to others who also share their data.
Once logged in to your Google Analytics account, you'll have access to a variety of different reports, all of which can be used to analyze ways of getting more traffic and making more money. Google Analytics can tell you everything from who is visiting your site to help you determine your target audiences to what keywords are most popular in your genre. This helps you decide where to advertise, how to draft your online copy and sales letters, how to reorganize your site navigations, what words and phrases to use, among other things.
Further it is fully integrated into the Google Adwords system. You might already be familiar with Adwords - it's the system that allows you to create and purchase textual advertisements on Google for a pay per click price. The links that run along the right hand side and at the very top of the Google results pages are purchased through the Adwords system.
Made for Small Businesses
While Google Analytics is used by major websites around the globe, it was actually created for the small- to mid-size website marketer. Only sites that have less than 5 million page views per month can utilize Google Analytics. (Of course if you are getting more than 5 million page views, or one view every two seconds, per month then Google Analytics is probably not going to tell you anything you haven't already figured out.)
Google Analytics may seem intimidating on the surface because there is so much information available. However, the GA dashboard is extremely customizable making the information relatively easy to find and comfortable to read through. In fact, it can actually be kind of addictive to spend endless time pulling up reports and digging through the data.
Google created this service to get new website owners into the swing of things. Webmasters who aren't very familiar with search engine optimization or improving website conversions can gain great insight from their Google Analytics account.
History of Google Analytics
Google Analytics was developed from a system known as Urchin on Demand. This company was acquired from Google in 2005. The program was first reintroduced under the Google name in November of 2005. Demand was so high for the new service that only a week after its introduction, Google had to close the system down for new sign ups. It remained touch and go for quite some time as Google made room for new users. At one time Google released special codes through a lottery to allow new users into the madly popular system.
Google Analytics is an extremely popular website analytics program due to its ease of use and its great price tag (free). While there are a few terms of service you must agree to in order to use the system (such as not tracking personally identifiable information, among others) the terms are easy for most website owners to comply with. If you're not using GA on your own website, I suggest you get started with it right away.