Do you need to know how many people are visiting your website? Where they're coming from? What pages they like best? What you need are analytics - software to let you track who is visiting your website, and what they're doing there. There are many, many different types of analytics programs out there - most of which work by analyzing your server's hit log records. But these can be tricky to set up and use, since setting them up varies depending on how the web server itself is set up. Google Analytics works differently - you simply add some code to all the pages you want to track on your website, and you're ready to go!
- Set up a Google Account. If you don't already have a Google account, you'll need to set one up. All you need is a valid email address -- and it's free! You can set it up by clicking the "Sign Up" link on the Google Analytics main page.
- Sign up with Google Analytics. You'll now need to sign up with Google Analytics using your Google account. Just click the "Sign Up" link on the main Google Analytics homepage.
- Add a profile for your website. After you've signed up, you'll need to create a "profile" for your website. Simply click the "Add Website Profile" link on the main dashboard page, then fill out the form with information on your site.
- Add the tracking code. This is the only slightly difficult step. The Analytics program will generate some code that you need to put on your website. This is the crucial step - this is the code that reports back to Google Analytics when a user visits a tracked page on your website. Put this code on every page you want to be tracked by Google Analytics. This can be as easy as opening each page in your html editor, being sure you're looking at the "raw" code for that page, and pasting the tracking code in at the bottom, right above the closing body tag.
- Wait for data to start coming in. This can be the most annoying part! It can take a day or so before enough data is in for Google Analytics to start generating reports for your site. So wait a day, then log in to your Google Analytics account to see what's going on!
- Look at all your data. The data usually lags behind by a day or so, sometimes less. There are many, many ways you can look the data on your site -- everything from seeing how many people visited the site, or a page on the site, where they came from, what kind of browser they're using, etc. Play around with the different reports, and use Google's help documentation to help figure out what they mean. Don't worry, there's no way you can harm your site by looking at reports.