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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
Before we jump right into the tool and the interface, it's important that we back up and think about what Web analytics is really all about. There are dozens of definitions out there, but the venerable Wikipedia provides one that I really like. Web analytics is the study of online behavior in order to improve it. And the critical part here is the in order to improve it section. We're not just here to look at pretty pie charts for sake of fancy reports. We need to find those insights that will allow us to take action, and actually improve our sites based on those pretty reports. It's perhaps just as important to realize what a Web analytics is not. Let's take this by way of a common analogy.
Web analytics software is like an x-ray machine. In this case, the patient is your Web site, and the x-ray machine is Google Analytics. The tool will identify and display exactly what's going on under the skin of your Web site, much like this x-ray will detect and display the broken bones. However, it won't end your pain, and it won't ultimately fix your problem. For that, you're going to need someone who can actually read and interpret the x-ray, and perform the analysis necessary to actually take action, and improve the situation.
This is why even the best or most expensive analytics tools still won't do it for you. You still need smart people like yourselves at the helm of the tool in order to get any real improvement. And like any good doctor, we're going to assess the entire situation. We're going to perform triage to figure out which areas need the attention first, such as prioritizing the skull over the finger. After we address that appropriately, maybe by prescribing some drugs to deal with the swelling, we move on to the next issue, and we continue down the line, constantly analyzing, adjusting, improving, and optimizing.
Web analytics is a process, and set it and forget it has no place here. We first perform the measurement, we apply analysis and learn from what we see, and then we take action. Our site is constantly changing, our marketing is changing, the tools themselves are changing, and the Web is continually changing; even the world itself is ever changing. We need to make sure our analytics process doesn't become stale, but rather evolves and keeps up with those changes in order to ensure our site is always performing at its best.
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