Note: This article presumes you have successfully installed Google Analytics in your website.
In order to get the most out of your online marketing, you need to have the ability to track the effectiveness of your efforts. A critical tool in your arsenal is a comprehensive statistics program like Google Analytics. One of the most valuable pieces of information Google Analytics provides is a breakdown of how readers find your website.
To learn more about the traffic to your website, sign in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the account for your website by clicking on the “View Report” link. You are now looking at the Google Analytics Dashboard. Click Traffic Sources on the left side of the page. A menu will open up beneath Traffic Sources that will allow you to look at detailed information about 3 different type of traffic source:
Direct Traffic – people who typed your URL directly into the address bar of their browser. These people may have been to your website before, or may have learned about your website from another source such as your business cards or other terrestrial marketing collateral.
Referring Sites – With the explosion of social media, this category is broader than ever before. If you are marketing your business through other channels, you will find them here. Depending on what additional marketing you have undertaken, this may include third party review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, Daily Deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, or membership-based websites like your local Chamber of Commerce. If you have a blog and publish interesting and unique content, you may find that other bloggers link to you from their blog entries or blogrolls. If you are actively using Social Media to promote your business, you should find traffic coming from sources including Facebook and Twitter. You may also find spikes of traffic from user-generated news sources such as Digg & Reddit, especially if you publish relevant & timely content on a regular basis.
Search Engines – The primary search engines that will drive traffic to your website are currently Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In this category you may also see traffic from sources such as Ask, AOL, Search, and others. Companies that offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialize in helping your business rank highly in the search engines for keywords & phrases that are important to your business.
The information you learn from monitoring your Google Analytics is valuable in that it helps you to understand both what you are doing right in marketing your business online, and where you have room for improvement.