Posted on June 1, 2014

Using Google Analytics and other free traffic measurement tools

By Neale Gilhooley, Evolution Design (updated April 2015)

If you do not already measure the quality of your website traffic and the effectiveness of your social media activity then you may not fully understand who goes to your website and why. Here are some free tools to help you understand your marketing and communication channels.

True story, I once phoned the Marketing Manager of a company called Stirling Stone. He was a complete stranger but I asked if he was interested in discussing the redesign of his company website and he admitted that he had been pondering that subject all week. A very fruitful conversation followed and when we met a few days later and I demonstrated how I found him through my webstats; the previous day someone from a server named Stirling Stone had found our website on Google using the search term “Edinburgh website designers”, viewing 26 pages – a very deep site visit from the proverbial needle in the haystack. So when I phoned the odds were actually pretty good and I knew which service he might be in most urgent need of. When we met I demonstrated Google Analytics to him. He had not heard of it before and at first he was shocked and scared even, then like so many other Clients he saw the use that such business information could provide to assist his marketing effort.

This introduction is aimed to help you get great value from the clear market leader. Evolution Design has been using Google Analytics for years and installing on the websites we built since 2007.  That’s a lot of data and a lot of changes most being enhancements. There is so much web usage data provided that most users ought to focus on their own key metrics to track, instead of getting lost in mounds of data.

GA-logoYou can often find a quick fix or a peak of interest but the most value you will get is from watching trends develop over time. It is not just about watching your website and making tweaks and improvements based on real user behaviour, it is about evaluating your entire marketing effort as most activities ought to generate at least more web traffic and enquiries ideally leading to sales.

Q. How does Google collect my data?  A. Sign up for free and Google issues some tracking code which we then put on the back end of each page that you want to be tracked.  Then log into your account to see your webstats this is your data that you share with us not the other way around.

Q. What does Google Analytics provide me with for free?  A. Numbers of visitors to your website broken down into:

  1. How they found your site; directly, via a referring site, via any organic search engine, via Google maps or via Google AdWords (Pay Per Click Adverts)
  2. Which keywords visitors used to find your site on Google, Bing or Yahoo
  3. How long they spent on your site (in seconds)
  4. Pages visited including the Landing Page (often not the homepage) and Exit Page
  5. Often the company name is visible if their own server is named, see below
  6. The type of device used to access the site, desktop, tablet, mobile phone, even providing make and model numbers (such as Samsung SM-N9005 Galaxy Note 3)
  7. Geography, country and city
  8. Demographics; gender, age and interests

Q. How is this data presented?  A. Like this and it is searchable, you can change the dates of your info slicing it up to a single day, or by week or month or even look at real time data. You can compare time periods to help you analyse your year on year growth.


Google uses this navigation method; Acquisition – how you earned that traffic and Behaviour – where they went on the site.  The chart below splits up the traffic by source giving you a picture of where they came from at a glance. Split into Direct, E-mail, Social, Referring Sites, Paid and Organic search. If you know where your traffic comes from that helps you generate more, equally it can detect deficiencies that can be improved upon.

Acquisition-overviewAlso you can use Analytics to tell you how much traffic is being generated via Twitter, Facebook and other referring websites. Turn it on its head and ask who is not delivering, who could be encouraged to send more relevant traffic.

There is also Conversions such as events triggered, particularly relating to orders and e-commerce or for example when we send traffic from one Client website to another we can track the users data and advise the Client to alert their agent that some visit & e-mail enquiries have been generated by the main site. Clever but also useful in generating revenue so we can look for it again. The navigation is split into many sub-menu’s have a free tour and see which one give you the most useful business information.  The best thing to do is to add Google Analytics to your website and start to track your own data, we can assist you with a demo or in-depth training if that would be of interest and business use.

Here are the names of some of the more familiar visitors to in 2013; erskine stewarts melville college, everton football club, johnston carmichael, northern rock plc, marathon oil uk, yellow pages, project trust, aptuit edinburgh ltd, innovation centres scotland ltd, city & wharf ltd, george watsons college, gillespie macandrew, glasgow caledonian university, hunter boot ltd, institution of civil engineers, j&m cameron properties ltd, laing the jeweller, microsoft corp, national library of Scotland, national museums of Scotland, royal botanical garden edinburgh, sapphire systems plc, scottish & newcastle ltd, stirling university innovation park, take 2 interactive software (rockstar games), teviot creative, conran group, glenmorangie, tods murray, university of the arts london.

And don’t forget to analyse other outbound media that you use such as Twitter >

Twitter Analytics data screengrab

And dont forget Pinterest etc. We will add more to this blog post. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.

Sources/further reading:

Google Analytics Product Tour 

How to get up and running with Google Analytics in six steps