One of our competitors claims that Google's free analytics service is a waste of time and so don't offer it on their websites. They say that the true measure of a website's effectiveness is the number of customers walking through your door and that you don't need a bunch of numbers to show that. While this may be generally true, there is far more value in Google Analytics and its Webmaster Tools companion than just website traffic numbers. And good business management would want to foresee problems BEFORE the phone quits ringing...
Recently we did a routine update to the calendar module used on our auto repair shop websites Advertising Calendar. Shortly afterwards the Webmaster Tools part of Google Analytics started showing that the pages generated by the calendar were creating duplicate content errors (search engines 'hate' this!). Search engines do not like the same content displayed on multiple pages and will penalize a website's search engine ranking if the errors are not corrected. Without Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools this problem would not have been noticed.
A new feature added to our calendar in the update allows daily, weekly, monthly and yearly views of the same events. While these different views are a nice feature for people they created an unanticipated problem with the search engines. If it wasn't for Google Webmaster Tools the error would not have been caught quickly and corrected before it had negative consequences for the website's SEO.
Once the problem was identified it was a simple matter of adding an exclude command in the robots.txt file to prevent indexing of the duplicate specials views. Once again Google Analytics showed its value by quickly reporting that the problem no longer existed and allowing us to verify that our fix corrected the problem.
While our competitors give their customers the old “trust us” line for their bad advice we would rather give our customers top quality auto repair shop websites that are verified by solid data.
If your website is not working correctly how will you know? It may be too late by the time you notice a drop in your customer count. Google Analytics is a great diagnosis tool and far more than just a traffic counter.