This post is the second in a monthly series about Google Analytics. The first post is located here. As we proceed, I’ll share tips on how you can use this tool to gain more insight into your online marketing. I’ll start off with the basics, but then we’ll get into some advanced techniques.
If you’re not yet familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a free tool from Google that you can add to your site to give you information about how people are coming to your website and how they behave when they get there.
Last month we spent a whole blog post on just one graph on the Google
Analytics dashboard, because there’s so much information in that one
tool. Read that post first if you haven’t already. This week we’ll dig into the Visitors section.
The visitors overview page doesn’t give you much useful information that’s not on the dashboard, but many of the reports below that contain vital information about who your visitors are and what they need for a good experience on your website.
One of the first pieces of information to look at is the Browser Capabilities section. In the Browsers report, you can see who is coming from what browser and browser version and make sure your website looks good in all of those.
Perhaps your website has display issues in Internet Explorer 6 and you are wondering if you should fix your site or if people have finally migrated off that browser to IE 7 or 8. I’m surprised at how many people look at national overall stats on browser usage instead of looking at their own analytics. Look at the IE6 visitors from your audience in particular by seeing what percentage of visitors use IE & then click on the words Internet Explorer to see the breakdown by browser version. Unfortunately this data is confusing, because the chart of browser versions refers to the percentage of people on that browser who are using that version. In the examples below, there are not 17% of users on IE6, but rather 3.74%. (22% of your visitors are on IE and the IE chart shows 17% on version 6.0, which means 3.74% of your visitors are on IE6)
My rule of thumb is that if fewer than 4% of visitors are on an older browser, then it is ok to not support it. (Do not use the same logic with new browsers, which will likely grow in market share, or with accessibility concerns.)
Another useful item in the Browser Capabilities report is the Screen Resolutions report. Many older websites were created with smaller resolutions in mind, and when it is time for a redesign, the organization wonders if they can expand the width or if that will alienate some users. Unfortunately the screen resolutions report lists individual resolutions, rather than a report of the percentage of screens smaller than x by x. However, you can quickly sum the percentages of resolutions smaller than your considered target and get an idea of the size of the population.
One more useful report in the visitors section is the Mobile report. If you are considering the need for a mobile site, the percentage of users currently visiting via a mobile device can be a useful data point. Some sites are surprised to see 6 – 10% of visitors on mobile devices, even if they don’t have a mobile site. If that’s the case, then there’s no time like the present to start optimizing your site for mobile or creating a mobile version.
Check back on June 21st, when I’ll jump into more exciting reports about your visitors in Intro to Google Analytics for Nonprofits #3.