Friday, August 01, 2008

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are free services that help you improve your Web site and increase traffic and visibility.

Google Analytics:

Google Analytics enables you to track traffic and visitors to your site during a given day, week or month. The reported statistics include:

  • the number of visitors
  • where they were located (city, nation, region, continent)
  • how many pages they viewed
  • which pages they viewed
  • which browser and operating system they used
  • what their screen resolutions and connection speeds were
  • how many came directly, from search engines, or from referring sites
(You can see a call to Google Analytics just before the "/body" tag at the end of my home page. A call like that one must be inserted in every page you wish to track, but it can be inserted automatically using an "include" file).

Google Webmaster tools:

Google Webmaster Tools report information their search engine finds when "crawling" your pages. Information includes:
  • diagnostics -- which pages on your site have problems like broken links?
  • top search queries -- which queries returned your site and what was its rank?
  • external links -- which sites link to your site, and which page do they link to?
Google Webmaster Tools also enable you to upload a sitemap file for your Web site. A sitemap file is a list or your site's URLs. Adding a sitemap file to your Web site will improve your Google searches (though Google does not reveal how they use the file).

A sitemap file must be in a standard (XML) format, and creating one by hand would be tedious. Luckily, there are a number of programs to automatically generate sitemap files. Maposite.com is a handy service for generating sitemap files. Once you have generated the file, you upload it to the root of your Web site, and let Google Webmaster Tools know it is there.