Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. At UVM we use Google Tag Manager to embed Google Analytics code on web pages in both our Drupal and legacy magicscript systems. All data is tracked to a single central UVM analytics account and is used to identify, analyze, and improve web content that contributes significantly to supporting the university's mission including enrollment, development and public relations goals. Departments can also choose to collect data for only the web pages they control to a separate departmental Google Analytics account.
Benefits of Using Web Analytics
Google Analytics not only lets you measure page "hits," users, and sessions, but also gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back.
Developing and maintaining web content is an investment. Data from Google Analytics allows you to use data to make informed decisions based upon the rate of return on this investment. When used properly, this data will help you see what’s working well, what’s not working, and help you decide what to do next.
Implementing Google Analytics for Departmental Content
Departments can sign up for their own Google analytics accounts to track pages under one or more URL patterns (eg. uvm.edu/mydepartment). To create a Google Analytics account:
- Go to Google Analytics. (If you have a Google account, and are not signed in, click Sign in. If you do not have a Google account or wish to create a new one with a UVM email, click Create an account.)
- Once you have signed in to your Google account, click Access Google Analytics.
- Click Sign up.
- Fill in an Account Name, Website Name, Website URL, and select the Industry Category (eg. Jobs and Education) and Reporting Time Zone.
- Under Data Sharing Options, check the boxes next to the options that you want.
- Click Get Tracking ID.
- From the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement that opens, click I Accept.
- Supply your account number with your lauch request form, or provide the Tracking Id number along with your "home" URL to the webteam via our online help form to have it included on your existing Drupal pages.
We strongly recommend granting access to your analytics account to additional people in your department. It can be impossible to gain access to your data if you don't have access to any of the accounts associated with your Google Analytics account.
Special Features in UVM's Analytics Implementation
Once installed, Google Analytics will track traffic to all the "regular" web pages associated with your account. In addition to tracking traffic to your web pages, Analytics' "enhanced measurement" (if enabled on your account) can track some other important events, such as:
- Outbound clicks (clicks on links to non uvm.edu pages)
- Video engagement (for embedded YouTube videos)
- File downloads (including PDF, DOC, PPT)
Identifying and Configuring Analytics Conversions
Defining conversions is a fundamental component of any web analytics measurement plan. Having properly configured goals allows Analytics to provide you with critical information, such as the number of conversions and the conversion rate for your UVM webpages. This, in turn, helps you differentiate positive user experiences from negative or negative experiences and let you know what content or marketing campaigns are successful at realizing the business goals of your unit (student enrolment or retention, faculty recruitment, student engagement, event participation, self-help, etc.).
What are the key user interactions on your web pages that indicate success? You will need to identify these to configure conversions in Analytics. These user interactions can be anything including form submissions, button clicks, file downloads, and more. When a website visitor performs the specific action that you've defined as a conversion, Analytics records that as a conversion in your reports.