Winning the Internet

4 reasons to use Google Analytics

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Knowledge is power, right? I’m a big believer in this—especially when it comes to online organizing work. If I’m spending time on something, I want to know that it’s worth my time and energy. Especially if that something is as important and time consuming as a website.

Google Analytics is by far the most commonly used tool for website analytics. However, in my work as a mentor I’m finding that the tool isn’t as pervasive as we might think. In fact, it’s not uncommon for small to mid-size nonprofit organizations to have no idea if/how people are using their website. Or, perhaps they do use Google Analytics on their main site, but not on their microsites.

It is my firm belief that we should be using Google Analytics on all websites. If this statement makes you skeptical, please read on! Here are four reasons every website should use Google Analytics.

1. You need to know how people are using your website.

If you’re spending time and money on a website, you need to know what you’re getting in return. With Google Analytics you’ll know things like:

  • How many people visited your site within a time period.
  • How people reached your site. (I.e.: Via a link on Facebook, a link on a website, by searching for something, then clicking on Google results, etc.)
  • Which pages were the most popular within a time period.
  • How long it takes for your website to load.
  • How many visitors visit via a mobile device.

This is all basic but valuable stuff that you need to know about your website(s).

2. It’s free.

Even though it’s incredibly powerful, Google Analytics is totally free. There’s no setup fee or monthly charge.

3. It’s easy to setup.

Setting up Google Analytics for your website is super simple. Once you setup your account, all you have to do is paste a little piece of code into the template for your website. If that’s over your head, you can email that bit of code to your webmaster or web contractor. It depends how your website is setup, but in most cases this should take someone with website know-how just a couple of minutes.

4. It’s super powerful.

I mentioned some of the basic things you can do with Google Analytics in #1, but the truth is that you can do way more than that if you want to. Here are some more of the cool things you can find out with Google Analytics:

  • How many men and women use your site.
  • The age of visitors to your website.
  • How many visitors came from email vs. social media vs. other channels.
  • Where your visitors are located and which languages they speak.
  • What percent of your visitors are new vs. returning.
  • Which words people are searching for on Google and ultimately ending up on your website.
  • How people end up in the different sections of your site.
  • Which sections of your site are popular and which aren’t.
  • What people are searching for on your site (using the search box).
  • How many people are downloading things from your site.
  • How all of this ties in with donations or sales.
  • Tons more. Seriously!

Are you convinced? If so, get on over to the Google Analytics site and set this up now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.


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