Analytics simplified – GA Evolution
By Scott Thomas
From conversations with innkeepers at some recent conferences, we know that innkeepers understand that web analytics are important, and they are searching for ways to use and understand them, but are not finding that to be an easy task.
We were looking at tools that provided some additional capabilities for Google Analytics, and came across GA Evolution, and think it may help some innkeepers get useful results, without overwhelming amounts of raw data. GA Evolution is not intended to provide all the information in Google Analytics. For example, it provides no information on where your visitors came from, time on site, etc. However, it does a really nice job of slicing and dicing the information about visits, page views, bounce rate, etc., while remaining easy to use.
In order to get started with Evolution, you’ll need to have a Google Analytics account, and it must already be collecting data on your website (that is, it must have been installed for a month or more, or Evolution won’t have much to do). If you haven’t yet set up Google Analytics, you’ll find an overview of the steps needed to set up Google Analytics in our article providing an overview of analytics. Once it is active, you can set up Evolution, and then all you need is a month or more of statistics-gathering by Google.
If you have a GA account, log in to the account and authorize Evolution to access your GA data. If you have multiple sites and/or profiles in GA, you can select the one to use, then choose the data to graph and away you go with nice, simple graphs of only the information you want to see!
Getting the Data
Once at the GA Evolution site, and logged in, select the domain or domains (your website and your blog, for instance) to view, and check the boxes for the columns to display. Evolution allows the most common data points – Visits, Unique Page Views, and Bounce Rate – and also allows additional columns for Transactions, Quantity, eCommerce Conversions and CI (Confidence Interval or margin of error). You can add columns for your defined Goals, if you like. Select a date range, and if you would rather see data weekly instead of monthly, check that box.
When you’re ready, click the “Get Data” button, and a chart appears below, with columns for each selected item. If you used more than one domain, there will be a separate table of data for each.
Getting a Graph
To graph a particular column, simply click the column header. If you want to see your Visits over time, click the Visits column and the graph will appear above the data table. If you are using more than one domain, there will be multiple lines on the graph, one for each domain, measuring the same column information. If you click another column it is not added to the graph, but the existing graph is replaced with a new one for the new column. Hovering your mouse over a point on the graph gives information about the value at that point.
Google Analytics is a free tool, though the author of it has a PayPal button on the site in case you would like to support his work with a donation. Try it, and see if you find it useful.
Let us know how it worked for you!