We all have quite a bit of time on ours hands at the moment, so the challenge is figuring out how to use it productively. For many photographers, that could mean improving your aspects of your skillset, portfolio, or website. In this article, we’ll focus on a specific way to get the most out of the latter item: using Google Analytics to track how many people are visiting your site.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that provides website owners with data about their website traffic. There is also a paid version for websites that accumulate more than 10 million visitors per month. A code is placed on the website that tracks things like page views, unique visitors, traffic sources, and search engine keyword usage. If some of those terms seem a bit foreign, check out our convenient SEO Glossary!
Analytics help determine how much traffic is coming to your site. They also provide details that reveal where that traffic is coming from, what trends are affecting your traffic, and the effectiveness of each marketing effort. With Google Analytics’ many capabilities come users’ many questions. Here are some of the ones we get most often:
A: Analytics can only track visits to a unique URL per page. Most Flash sites only run inside a single page, and therefore only a single URL is used.
To combat this, many Flash sites utilize page anchors to provide unique URLs for Analytics to track. You need to contact your web designer or provider for more information about implementing them.
A: ‘Session’ is a term that refers to the number of times users have visited your site.
‘Pageview’ is a tally of all the pages viewed on your site. Because a single user might visit many pages in a single Session, the raw Pageview count will be higher than your Sessions or Users number.
A: Yes, but only to a certain extent. Analytics can provide basic information about people visiting your site (country, language, and some technical data). It cannot, however, disclose further PII (personally identifiable information, i.e. name, email, phone number, etc.) about these people or provide any qualitative analysis. PII is the information that big companies pay big money to access. While it’s possible to accrue this info, Google Analytics does not provide it.
A: This is another aspect that came up in the interest of user privacy. When a signed-in user comes to your site through an organic search, the keywords used will show up as ‘(not provided).’ The purpose of ‘(not provided)’ is to protect personal user data and behavior information.
However, there are a few ways to prevent (not provided) from dominating your Keyword analysis. If your Google Analytics account is equipped with Search Console, then you can see where your site shows up when a user enters different search queries. Additionally, you can see through the Landing Page report where people are entering your website and track keywords through there.
A: ‘Direct Traffic’ refers to visitors that come to your website with no intermediate step. In most cases, the user typed the URL directly into the address bar or opened a bookmark, but the source could also be unknown. ‘Referral Traffic’ means a visitor came from another website or clicked on a link in an email.
A: Yes. Analytics allows you to set up custom URLs to your site that can be added into emails to track traffic from your campaign. If you’re using a service like CampaignMonitor, it may already be done for you. Or, you can set it up yourself! You can read more about this here.
A: There are a number of different tools that allow you to track your website traffic. Often, they will have their own set of methods for determining what qualifies as a visitor, unique pageview, etc. Typically, this is a matter of semantics, and no one tool is objectively more correct than another.