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What to watch with Google Analytics

10/10/2012 | Internet hosting |

If you're setting up an e-commerce business and looking to grow, you may find the wealth of information available to you when planning your future strategy a little overwhelming. You can't have failed to notice this is the era of big data, with websites able to gather many more details about the activities of their customers than in the past. Information about what people are browsing, how long they spend on pages and patterns in their behaviour can all be hugely valuable to merchants.

But this could present a problem. How do you take all of this data and process it into something useful that you can use to boost your sales and visibility on the internet? Fortunately, there are a range of tools to help you with this and one of the top ones you might find useful is Google Analytics. This can examine a wide range of metrics about the performance of your domain and turn it into useful figures to help improve your site.

The tool can track both incoming and outgoing links. While it's obviously important to learn where your traffic is coming from, knowing when and where it's going is also good data to have. For example, if a high percentage of visitors are leaving a site during the checkout procedure, this can be an indication your payment system is not user-friendly. However, you shouldn't worry if people are leaving from the shopping cart page, particularly if you're a new site. SEOMoz noted many first-time visitors won't normally make a purchase straight away, but if you can see they're interacting with your shopping pages and getting to the purchase stage, this is a good sign.

Practical Ecommerce also highlighted Google Analytics' ability to track your sales as a valuable feature. By putting all your sales and conversion metrics in one place, you can compare them directly to other data. There are lots of tools included with the solution so you should experiment with what's available, such as in-page analytics, which was highlighted by SEOMoz as particularly valuable. This gives you a better insight into how people are using the site - such as where links are being clicked - and can show you how to improve your layout to emphasise your most important elements.

Other key metrics such as bounce rate, average page visit length and the number of pages per visit can all help tell you whether or not people are engaging with your content and offer pointers as to any problem areas.

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