Title: Who visits your website? Find out with Google Analytics
Contact Information for Product/Service: http://www.google.com/analytics
Reviewer’s Name and Contact Info (email):
School of Information & Library Science
UNC Chapel Hill
Date of Review: January 15, 2012
Google Analytics, a web analytics tool produced by Google, is optimized for e-commerce sites, but it can be leveraged for use within libraries. Using a process called page tagging, Google Analytics tracks visitor activity on websites. Despite some limitations, Google Analytics can be used most effectively to strengthen library websites and identify user trends for follow-up assessment.
Google Analytics presents reports on the data gathered in 5 main categories: Audience, Advertising, Traffic Sources, Content, and Conversions. The Advertising category is linked to AdWords and, while heavily used in e-commerce, is not very useful for libraries. In addition to these reports, there is a customizable dashboard in Google Analytics where users can display their most frequently used reports.
To generate reports, the user sets the desired date range or, in the case of comparison, two date ranges. The reports in Google Analytics offer a variety of visualization options, including charts and map overlays. The data can be exported in CSV, TSV, and CSV for Excel formats. In the old version of Google Analytics, users could export to PDF and schedule reports to be emailed; though Google says these two features are forthcoming, they are not yet available in the new version.
Google Analytics offers users an amazing amount of data about their website visitors. Primarily geared toward e-commerce, some of the functionality of Google Analytics isn’t relevant to libraries. More importantly, the data is given without context, allowing users to see how website visitors are behaving but not why. In light of this, Google Analytics is most powerful as a tool for gathering information to complement and inform other library assessment efforts.
Statistics and Analytics: Ways to Record Library Interactions
How do we know if our library community is using the programs or services that our library offers? How do we know if our time is well spent in staffing these services? What products are put there that can help us record and use all of this information to help improve or develop new resources or services to engage our library patrons? RUSA MARS’ Products & Services committee has put together reviews of different options for libraries to track all sorts of stats.
If there are questions about a specific product/service, please contact the reviewer directly. If there are suggestions for other products to review, please contact the Chair of the Products & Services committee, Ngoc-Yen Tran at nttran[at]callutheran.edu.