Decisions Blog

Google Analytics

Software like Talis Decisions allows flexible and powerful reporting from Alto data and potentially other data held in the library such as PC loans. However there is another kind of Management Information/Business Intelligence that is of increasing importance to libraries – use of the library website.

I recently came across a short paper describing the use of Google Analytics to improve the design of the website of a specialist academic library. The detailed content is a little out of date but the principles are sound and are relevant to any library.

If you are not familiar with it, Google Analytics is a free service that goes beyond mere hit counters (which just track how often a page is visited). It allows you to monitor things like:

  • when the hits occurred – useful if for example you want to monitor the effect of a marketing initiative
  • How many people “bounce” i.e. come to your site then immediately go off somewhere else (which indicates that they maybe got there by accident)
  • Where your visitors come from by country, region or continent
  • Diurnal spread of visits
  • Average length of time that people spend on your site and the pages they visit
  • … and so on.

As ever, a powerful package like Google Analytics can be used just to produce “fancy that” information (you create the report, e-mail it to a dozen recipients who look at it, murmur “fancy that” – and file it without taking any action): but used wisely it can inform the planning of improvements to a library website or microsite

If you have experience of library website tracking using tools like Goggle Analytics or AW Stats, then please do add a comment sharing your experiences: click on the speech bubble on the top right hand corner of this post.

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