Who is viewing your website? How do they find it? And what do they look at while they are there? Those are three important questions every creative team should know. Not only for their own website, but for their clients as well.

Google Analytics is a great tool for uncovering the answers to those questions. Colorful charts and graphs make traffic information accessible to visually-oriented types who might feel lost in a sea of raw data. Even better, it’s free.

We’ve been using Google Analytics to keep track of the traffic for our own website since November 2005. A quick weekly (or daily) check of our web traffic statistics provides feedback for how our site is doing, and helps keep our outreach efforts on track.

How to start using Google Analytics.

Assuming you know how to add and upload a small snippet of code to your website, you can have Google Analytics installed in about 15 minutes. After that it takes about a day for traffic data to start showing up in your reports.

Step 1 – Create a Google Analytics account. Visit the Google Analytics Sign Up page and create a new account. You’ll be asked for your email address, and Google will send you a confirmation email. Confirm that email to start your account.

Step 2 – Begin the Sign Up Wizard. Once you have an account, use your new name and password to log in at the main Google Analytics page. You should see a “Sign Up” button that will walk you through a step-by-step wizard to setup your new account. You’ll tell Google your website’s URL and your contact information.

Step 3 – Add a tracking code to your pages. At the end of the sign up wizard Google will give you a snippet of code:

Copy and paste the code segment into the HTML of your website’s pages. If you use an outside vendors for your website coding, give this code to them. Once the modified pages are uploaded, Google starts tracking your website’s traffic!

Mac Users: For full access to Google Analytic’s user interface, use Firefox instead of Safari.

Tip: If you own a Seattle-area creative studio, sign up for the free class Blog Your Portfolio at the School of Visual Concepts. Tuesday, September 19, 2006 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It turns out adding a blog to your site might be one of the best strategies to increase your own web traffic!

Source: We discovered Google Analytics first on Seth Godin’s BLOG, and we wrote about it back in QuickTips #70. Since then we track our own web traffic on an almost compulsive basis!