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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ok, so you think you are ready to try web analytics?

If you can copy and paste that’s all you need to know to get started. You’ll be the dog chasing ghosts instead of your favorite pet.

Ready? Go to Google Analytics and create an account. If you have a Google account for gmail or another Google feature you may be able to use that ID and password. If not just sign up.


On the next page, create an web page account.


Fill in the fields on the next page for your website or blog.



You’re almost there. After you finish with the account creation the JavaScript code is generated and you are ready to copy and paste.


Ok, now here is where you have to pay attention. Read everything on the page especially this sentence just above the JavaScript window: “Copy the following code block into every webpage you want to track immediately before the tag.”




You’re brain is hurting now, right? Take an aspirin. If you have never seen or created HTML language then might as well be hieroglyphics.


HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, the universal code read by every web browser on the planet telling it what to display on your computer screen. Since your brain is hurting I captured the link to the HTML definition on Wikipedia in case you wanted to know more.


The tag tells the browser that it’s the end of the body of your web page. The Google JavaScript code goes right in front of the tag and there is a good reason for this location.


Quickly, I’ll tell you because I know your brain is overloading – when you request a web page, the browser begins reading the HTML code and loading the elements of the page including cool pieces of information called meta data which is like the inside scoop on the web page and browser. Other pieces of information from the browser are also there like where the person was before they entered the site, the name of the ISP (Internet Service Provider) and other bits of juicy data. No personal or identifying information, mind you.


While the page loads, the Google JavaScript records all this juicy information and sends it to a server somewhere in Google land with your account numbers and stores it there for about a year or so. When you access your Google Analytics account, it pulls all the data and compiles into nice graphs and charts on the analytics web site.


There are a lot of other things going on, but I wanted to give you the simple version of how web analytics works. You’re probably passed out by now. Let’s take a rest and continue another day. Next will be how to put the code on your web site and how to make sure it works.
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