This is the first in a series of posts covering some of the useful things you can find out with Google Analytics, starting with the Visitors Map Overlay. Building up information about your customers is incredibly useful for businesses as they are better informed to respond to the market they operate in. This post discusses some of the benefits that knowing the geographical location of your website visitors can bring.
Analytics is a fantastic tool available for free from Google. It incredibly easy to install as long as you have a Gmail account and ftp access to your site you wish to track so you can add the a script to each page. Although the main focus of Analytics is to try to facilitate the successful use of Adwords (through conversion rates and the setting up of goals), the statistics collected provide an invaluable insight into the visitors of your website.
Visitors Map Overlay - 'Geotargeting'
Analytics allows you do pinpoint geographically where your visitors access your website from through what it calls 'Geotargeting'. The Visitors Map Overlay can be accessed by clicking on the 'Visitors' section, then the top 'Visitors Map Overlay' link just underneath it. The default view Analytics gives you is of a world map with the Country/Territory view, which will have countries rendered with varying shades of green. The darker the colour, the greater the percentage of visitors come from that particular country. Here is an example of what that overview may look like.
Website user data can be represented in a number of different ways for example I often find pie charts a helpful way to visualise statistics. Here I have highlighted the breakdown of visitors' countries to a bed and breakfast site we have previously worked with.
The data can also be further broken down into country specific views, showing the various cities that your visitors reside in. Here is a visual representation of the visitors from the UK.
All the usual Analytics data is available for each of these sections - goals, content, time spent, bounce rate, page views... Separating this data by geographical region enables you to have a very complete picture of the your site visitors.
SEO - Target Local/Regional/National areas
Analytics is a fantastic tool for Search Engine Optimisation of your website, especially if you are concerned with targeting specific geographic regions. If your business provides a service (such as landscape gardening) and can only operate in a small area, gathering data about where you visitors are from could prove invaluable. For example due to the new features in Analytics which enables you to compare time periods, you can see whether your SEO adjustments to target a local area have been successful by viewing the number of visitors from that region. In the difficult world of SEO, having such data available is a fantastic way to measure the success of your 'geotargeting' and improving the chances of your website showing up for local search.
Another example is the ability to see where the most profitable visitors (for example in terms of conversion rates or goals) hail from. Comparisons of regions can enable you to focus your SEO and SEM efforts on these areas, whilst cutting back on unprofitable ones.
As you can hopefully see the ability to target local, regional and national areas through using Analytics' information is an incredibly powerful tool for online marketers. Critics are tipping local search to be the future of Search Engine Marketing, especially as Google moves towards including more maps and local business address at the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
If you are aware of a large number of visitors from a particular country, it may be feasible to look into translations of your site. For example for a hotel who typically deals with international visitors, having a particular page in a foreign language may add real value for your customers and increase the likelihood of a booking. Without Analytics' data such potential marketing opportunities may be missed.
With a bed and breakfast site we were recently working for, a large number of visitors from the USA were recorded (around 10% of total visitors). The implication of this for the business was that online booking was investigated with online credit card card payments, with the potential of enabling bookings to be made 24 hours a day. This would eliminate the time zone differences, remove the need for expensive international phone calls to book and removing currency conversion problems with taking deposits.
Hopefully his post has shown you how powerful the Map Overlay and its subsections can be and the diversity ways you can apply the data. The geographical information collected through Analytics helps you tailor your site to the needs of your visitors with the aim of making the desired goal of your website achieved more often. Targeting specific regional or local areas can greatly increase the success of your business.
Atif, yes, monthly, weekly, or daily breakups are available in the website. If the website doesn't have exactly what you want, you can always export the data yourself if you want. For example, I wrote a java app that pulls visior info and created a visitor map of all the cities people have come from to my blog: http://blog.zumkhawala.com/p/visitor-map.html so it's pretty easy to get data out.
I work with a company called EmbeddedAnalytics. We integrate with the Google Analytics API and enable web publishers to embed real-time statistical charts into their site. Recently a number of customers requested support for geographic map overlays. So we spent the time and effort to build this feature in. If you are interested in embedding these types of charts into your site check out http://www.embeddedanalytics.com