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Getting to Know Google Analytics

There are many firms that offer web analytics tools and services. One of the most popular is Google Analytics, part of the vast Google empire. Google Analytics is unusually comprehensive in the metrics it tracks; it's also relatively easy to use and completely free.

Because of its cost (or lack of), Google Analytics is popular with websites both large and small. Google Analytics is powerful enough to track traffic at large websites, but easy enough for smaller sites to implement. It tracks all the key metrics detailed in Table 1.1 and more, displaying its results in a series of "Dashboards" and custom reports, like the one shown in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The main Google Analytics Dashboard.

Google Analytics utilizes onsite analytics to track visitor behavior on a specific site. After you register your site with Google Analytics, Google generates a unique piece of JavaScript code for your site. You then copy and paste this code into the underlying HTML of each site on your page you want to track; once embedded, this code tracks visitor behavior and transmits that data back to Google, where it is analyzed and displayed.

As noted, Google Analytics is completely free. There is no charge to track the performance of your website, nor to access the reports generated by Google Analytics.

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