I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets curious about how many people actually read my blog or whether I'm just talking to myself. I'm amazed that Blogger doesn't have any stats available automatically (or does it?), so I thought a post about setting up Google Analytics might be in order.
[Creative Commons image found via Flickr, with thanks to sammydavisdog]
I have to say, I love Analytics. It's free (woohoo!) and yet it gives really in-depth information about your site - who's visiting? Where are they from? How long do they stay? How do they find their way around? What possessed them to come here in the first place? This screenshot shows the overview page - not very impressive stats, some might think, but I think it's amazing that I got a grand total of 35 hits last Friday for this very new blog.
In fact, it gives far more information than I'd ever need about this little blog, but has been really interesting for some of the more complicated websites I've worked with. I recommend checking out the Site Overlay feature as demonstrated here on the Ask About Ireland website. (Click on the image to see the larger version.)
Looking at the site as it appears to the user, you can immediately see whether people are using the links or images to navigate around the site, or whether they prefer to use that convenient search box in the top right hand corner. Hours of fun to be had following user paths through the site, and I'd imagine very useful for the library websites.
So how do we get all of this wonderful information about our incredibly popular blogs?
Step 1: Set up an Analytics account.
This part is easy, since we've all been playing with Google products already as part of 23 Things. Visit http://www.google.com/analytics, log in and click 'Sign Up'. Follow the instructions to enter your website url and do the user agreement process.
Step 2: Copy the tracking code
Copy the code from the box
Step 3: Paste the code into your site
This is the fun part! Luckily, because our blogs are based on a template we only have to paste the code into one page.
[Don't worry if you've never used HTML, you don't actually need to know any for this. If you're worried about making mistakes you could always copy the existing html and save it in Notepad or similar text editor so you can retrieve it easily.]
- From the Blogger dashboard, select the 'Design' tab.
- Click on 'Edit HTML'
- Look through the HTML to find where the header ends (it says /head in < and > brackets - blogger's driving me crazy not letting me put this in properly here!)
- Paste the tracking code just before where it says /head in < and > brackets
This won't change how your site looks, it'll just collect statistics to be sent to Google Analytics.
Have fun! And if you have any questions just ask and I'll try to help, but be warned, I'm no expert...
P.S. Hello to my readers in USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa (and of course my loyal followers here in the UK)!
P.P.S. If you like changing your templates, don't forget that you may need to reinsert your tracking code (as I just did, oops!)