The Google Analytics Service provides a handy “Real-Time” traffic analysis tool that gives insight into what your site visitors are looking at right now. Real-Time answers questions like “how many people are on my site right now,” “where are visitors coming from before they visit my site,” and “which pages are attracting the most traffic.” The tool is included with the same Google Analytics script you install on your website to track site hits. To access this tool, just load your site in Google Analytics and select the “Real-Time” option in the navigation bar.
The Real-Time Overview menu is like a control center for monitoring traffic as it happens on your website. From this page you can track things like how many hits the articles you added from a freelance writing service are bringing in or how many people are checking out your newest product’s information page.
The overview page provides a running count of:
- people currently looking at pages on your site
- a breakdown of what types of devices your site visitors are using
- which sites are referring visitors
- how many visitors are coming from social networks like Facebook
- a breakdown of how many visitors are currently reading your most popular pages
If you’re working with multiple computers or multiple screens, you may find it helpful to leave the Real-Time information up on one of the screens throughout your work day.
The analytics provide insight into ways you can further optimize your site’s content. For example, the device type information breaks down visitors into mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. If you see that the majority of your guests are using mobile devices, but your site is designed to cater to desktop computer users, it is probably time to consider redesigning your site with a “mobile first” design. If the content doesn’t appear on your mobile site, most of your viewers can’t access it.
Watching your current-visitors count also gives some insight into what time of the day most people are visiting your site. For example, you may see your highest numbers before lunch and after dinner. You can use this information to help decide when the best times are to post new content on your site to greet your guests.
If people tend to frequent your site around 10am, then aim to publish new content before 9am. The tool can also help indicate when your site’s content is no longer fresh and losing viewers and when your social network posts have stopped bringing in hits when the number drops below its normal levels relative to the time. Since new content doesn’t necessarily bring in visitors immediately, this information can help you identify when you need to share your content on Facebook and Twitter to start conversations that bring in traffic.
The “Top Keywords” information on the tool also provides some insight into how well your site is performing in web searches. You can expect to see your site or business name in the keywords, but other words related to products, services, or location related to your site are up for grabs. The lower-ranking words that appear in the Top Keywords list are often phrases you can incorporate into your content to boost your site’s SEO.
Writer Bio: Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.