Analytics for journalists (2011)

Updated with a couple of excellent contributions from Reuben Schwarz.

I’m pulling together a few resources for journalists who are new to the web and in particular new to analytics.

I like this slide show:

I’m also using…

Reuben Schwarz’s Six Rootin Tootin Myths About Analytics (which is highly readable and based on his experience at stuff.co.nz)

A large chunk of my job at Fairfax NZ is about numbers – wonderful, glorious numbers – mostly looking at web traffic at Stuff.co.nz and its competitors. It’s work that lots of people might think is pretty dull, but those lots of people would be bothwrong and unawesome.

Web analytics is so cool I can hardly keep my trousers straight writing about it. It’s like the Wild Wild West of statistics, and I’m like Will Smith, except in a movie that doesn’t suck. Plus I’m a better dancer.

So in the spirit of gunslingers everywhere, I’m going to shoot down some myths about the world of web analytics. (more)

And his Showdown at High Noon: 7 More Myths about Analytics

Myth: I should use the total metrics instead of the domestic metrics, because total is always bigger.

Fact: Speaking for NZ (where I’m based) – If web analytics really is like the Wild Wild West, then total traffic numbers are as alluring as Salma Hayak. They’re so nice and big and plump compared to domestic (NZ only) traffic numbers. But while total is always bigger, bigger isn’t always better.

If you’re pitching to advertisers, what they really want to know is how many people visit your site that could buy their products. About 99% of the time that’s just people in New Zealand, so that’s really the numbers they’re after.

10,000 Words’ great Analytics for Journalists

Analytics, or the analysis of a website’s traffic, is important for every journalist to understand. Analytics tools can identify how many people visited a website, page, or article, how they found the site, and how popular the content on a site is.

For this post I am using Google Analytics, the free tool provided by Google, to illustrate the common features of analytics tools. Analytics services range from this list of free or inexpensive analytics toolsto full-fledged software like Omniture. Most of them share common features like those described below… (more)

 

Maholo’s Guide to Google Analytics:

This page will teach you how to use Google Analytics, even if you’re a beginner. Google Analytics is one of the top tools out there for analyzing traffic on your website. With a little bit of setup, it will give you an enormous amount of information about who is visiting your site, what they’re looking for, and how they’re getting there. With just a little practice, along with the information on this page, you too will be able to use Google Analytics like a pro.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for monitoring all aspects of your websites traffic, from referrals to search engine activity.1 Like any application designed to do so much, Google Analytics comes with a rather steep learning curve, which can be intimidating at first. However, by familiarizing yourself with the program, using the tool can become second nature. This page is designed to ease you into the application and teach you how to use all aspects of Google Analytics.  (more)

Big Picture’s Google Analytics for Bloggers

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by Google Analytics’ dozens of reports and countless metrics. To avoid getting caught up in web analytics minutia, don’t just look at Google Analytics as a source for data and reports. Look to GA to provide insights on how to improve the content of your blog through answering several important questions:

  • Who are your readers?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • What are they reading?
  • What are they sharing?

With any web analytics tool, start off with a business goal or question and then look to a report or metrics for the answer.  Otherwise you’ll be likely to end up spinning your tires with nothing to show for your web analytics efforts. Read on to see this approach to web analytics for bloggers in action. (more)

Know of any other easy-to-understand guides to analytics suitable for journalists?



0 Replies to “Analytics for journalists (2011)”

  1. I was talking to a webmaster at a news outlet a few days ago. The only metric he used was to tell him which browswer people were using. All of the simple and powerful tools — especially on Google Analytics — for learning how people engage with your stories, where they come from, where they go, how long they read or don’t read — certain sections, all went unused.

    I spent a lot of time in newsrooms across the country. This is a tool every reporter should should know and use and love.

  2. “Know of any other easy-to-understand guides to analytics suitable for journalists?”

    The key to making Google Analytics easy to understand is to know what you want before you dive in.

    There is so much information that it is easy to get lost. Or intimidate.

    Just focus on a few measures that will help you learn what people are doing with your stories, at first anyway, and you will get more out of it.

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