Stats from one of the many pages I track

Every website owner should have Google Analytics or something like it–even if you never look at it.  If you have Google Analytics silently tracking in the background you can make better marketing strategies for today and be prepared for the future.

Imagine one day a prospective publisher of your novel asks you to give them a reason to believe that your book will sell if they publish it.  What will you have to offer them? What if you could tell them that once week for the past year you have posted to your blog and each time you do the number of visits to your page soars to 500 per day for the next 3 days?  What if you could even show that these visits were returning visitors and even more details which show that you have a huge and loyal readership for your blog?

Because of Google Analytics I can safely say that I have at least 4 very loyal visitors to my blog.  Now 4 doesn’t sound as great as hundreds, but its a start.  One day when that number has grown I will have a very clear record of it.

This isn’t one of those things you can leave until later either.  Google Analytics can only see the visits and information from when you install it on your website.  Unless you have it running silently in the background now its not going to be of use to you in the future.

Who What When Where How

Google Analytics can tell you almost everything about your visitors aside from personal details.  You will know what countries your visitors are coming from, what kind of connection they use, ISP, Browser, Operating System whether they have Flash installed or can support Java etc.  You will know how many were new visitors, how many were returning, how long they looked at your site, what pages they viewed.  You will know what search words they used in what search engine to come up with which of your pages.  You will know if they are coming in directly (like they have a bookmark) or from Facebook or Twitter or somewhere else. And I am sure I don’t even know half of what the tool can do.

This information can guide you in so many ways, even before you use it to impress future publishers.  If you notice that people are coming to your website but they are bouncing through really quickly you might decide to start adding elements that capture the audience a little more–like videos.  If you notice that despite spending hours and hours on Twitter you get very few visitors coming from that site, you might want to rethink your time management.

Getting Google Analytics set up and running involves a few steps but once its operating it requires nothing from you and is an absolutely essential tool for your author website.  Here is a great blog about how to add Google Analytics to your blog.