Google Analytics: What you need to know

It’s pretty much a given these days that if you’re an artist or an arts organization, you’re expected to have a web site. And so long as you have a web site, it’s good to know how many people are visiting. Many web hosts offer a basic tool for this type of measurement with their hosting plans, like Webalizer or Awstats.

But for a full, detailed analysis of website traffic, many people install Google Analytics and then wonder what to do with it.

On October 9, we welcomed Tomer Tishgarten and Asia Matos of Arke Systems to the FUSE Arts Center to speak on the subject of how artists can use Google Analytics. Tomer and Asia offered a wealth of practical knowledge on some of the many insights Google Analytics can offer.

Those who attended our previous TechsmARTs session with John Saddington may remember his big advice about publishing a blog: hit the publish button. Publish regularly. What you get out of that: more readership and more opportunities. But once you’re at the point of publishing and you have Google Analytics set up, what then? What wisdom can you gain?

Asia and Tomer’s presentation focused on ten things that artists need to know about Google Analytics. You may think of Analytics as a tool you can use to see how much traffic you are getting to your site, but there is much more to it than that. It’s a powerful tool that helps you understand how people use your site, which may not be how you think (or want) people to use your site…

… Or who is using your site. For example, you may begin a campaign to increase traffic to your site, but realize that the new traffic you generate all comes from other states. If your work is focused here in Atlanta, a positive result is not necessarily a good result.

You may get a fair amount of your traffic through social media sites. But how much do you get from each site, and how long does an average visit to your site last? Thanks to Analytics, we were able to find out that while we typically get more visitors through Facebook, the visitors who come to us through Twitter tend to stay longer.

In the end, Google Analytics is a great rabbit hole treasure trove of information related to the traffic that comes through your website. In addition to viewing Tomer and Asia’s presentation, you can also learn more through Google’s Analytics Academy and the Google Analytics Channel on YouTube.

Joe’s tip: Whatever you decide to do, always remember not to get overwhelmed by what you see, or by the possibilities of what Google Analytics can offer to you. Your first task would be to install Analytics on your site. If you use WordPress, you will likely have many options for installing — none of them are the “best” or the “wrong” option — but it’s always good to start simple. Focus on one thing at a time, experiment, and go to town learning new things about how the people who visit your website use it.

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