by Dave Curtis on 01/04/2009

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” -Japanese Proverb

The entire list of links to all Google Analytics Individual Qualification Lessons right here in one place. Google Analytics – Don’t just install it, have a plan and take action!

Web Site Analytics has to be one of the most important areas of optimization since simply optimizing for search engine return pages isn’t going to help you get your clients conversions unless you can track how changes on a site improve click through rates.

Web Analytics an Hour a Day

Web Analytics an Hour a Day

This is done by first creating a baseline of site performance (also referred to as a trend), either over a period of time or after a certain number of visits. Since you’re using a percentage it’s not 100% necessary to use the same number of visitors do for each sample even though I think that doing so is a good idea.

Another way to perform analytics is to use visitor’s on site searches to help build additional page content for the site. Most good sites have a “search” function built in for visitors to search for what they are looking for. If you can find a way to track visitor searches then you’ve gained a huge advantage in giving them what they want and keeping them on the site.

In the book “Site Analytics, One Hour A Day” the author acknowledges this but says it’s difficult to do. Google allows you to do in depth analysis using internal site search but there may be some occasions where an alternative way of tracking is desirable. I have found a second very easy way to do this – and here’s how in two easy steps. Go to and set up a brand new exclusive account just for your internal site search pages (the page produced after a visitor places a search term into the search box and clicks “search”). Now plug that code into your that search page so only the search word referral will show up when you check on the referrals tab in sitemeter.

If you have a relatively static site (something web 1.0) that doesn’t undergo an awful lot of change and you can’t figure out how to track your existing internal site searches you used to be able to go to and buy their inexpensive Flash Website Search program ($34) and place the sitemeter code into the advanced “custom footer” section of the Coffee Cup Flash Website Search. That let you see exactly what your visitors were searching for and be able to beef up your site by adding keywords and content.

So just how important is Analytics to your site if you have the money? The video below (on YouTube but shown on the official Google Website Optimizer Blog) suggests that Analytics is what made the difference in the Barack Obama campaign:

Dan Siroker, formerly of Google went to the Obama campaign and worked with Obama initially, then went back to Google and shortly thereafter left to work on the Obama campaign full time.  His recommendations are to use open source analytics tools to help track, tweak and improve conversion rates.

Open source tools he recommends in the video are:

TextMate (Mac users)
OpenReports*  (Opensource Framework)
Google Apps

And finally, the whole Google Analytics University of links to each of their tutorial videos:

Google Analytics Individual Qualification Lessons

Follow these lessons to prepare for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test or to simply become a more knowledgeable Google Analytics user. The presentations move quickly; use the Pause and Back buttons to make sure that you don’t miss anything. You can click the Notes tab in the presentation to read what is being said. (Access to a Google Analytics account is strongly recommended so that you can experiment and apply what you learn).

First Steps

Interpreting Reports


In-Depth Analysis