And Why Their Webmasters Don’t Get It

Recently I posted a question on a business networking site (Alignable) that attracted 77,000 views and generated a large number of responses. The question was directed to small business owners and asked, “Do you know how to check the standing of your website and the traffic that it’s bringing in?”

Many business owners said, that, sadly, they did not know how to check on their site’s traffic.

And a slew of web designers said, “I always put Google Analytics on my clients’ sites and tell my clients to check their stats!”

Do you see the problem here? According to web designers, Google Analytics is the gold standard for monitoring web traffic – and indeed it is – but many small-business or solo entrepreneur website owners don’t or won’t use it. In fact, I’ve learned from most of my web design clients that they downright hate it.

Why Small-Business Website Owners Hate Google Analytics

Why do small-business website owners hate Google Analytics? Because unless you’re a web developer yourself, it’s nearly impossible to install it on your site or understand the information that it spews out.

So I propose that we web developers take mercy on our small-business clients, and stop pushing them to learn and use Google Analytics. Sure, install it on your client’s site. It doesn’t cost anything, and if the web owner has the money to pay you to produce reports on Google Analytics’ web traffic data, great. Meanwhile, Google Analytics will chug along gathering and archiving data for future possible examination. All good.

Web Developers: Show Clients How to Easily Monitor Web Traffic

The thing is, lots of clients don’t have the budget for regular webmaster traffic reports and don’t have the ability or the gumption to learn how to analyze Google Analytics data themselves. How about we give them a hand by showing them how to easily check basic data on their site’s performance by other means? Let’s stop telling these business owners to read the Russian novel; just show them how to get the CliffsNotes.

Here are two good sources of stripped down, CliffsNotes-style data on a site’s web traffic: Jetpack and Alexa.

Jetpack – For the Simple Stats on a Website’s Traffic

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that creates a quick-and-dirty bar chart that shows how much traffic is coming into a site, plus a few extra details such as which posts are drawing the most traffic and the top search terms used by visitors to a site. Once you, the webmaster, install it, you can show your client how to log into the back end of the site and view the Jetpack chart on the dashboard. Simple.

Note: If you don’t build websites on WordPress (the most popular web platform; it accounts for 60% of CMS-built websites), then look for similar simple traffic counters such as VisiStat for Joomla or Snoobi for Drupal.

Alexa – For a Quick Look At a Website’s Rank and Competition

Alexa is a website that shows a website’s rank plus some additional information on traffic sources, the keywords most used to reach the site, and competing websites. If you’re not familiar with Alexa, click here for an article about what it is and what it does. Then explain it to your client and point him or her to it.

For many small business website owners, when we insist that they use Google Analytics it’s like we’re telling them to fly a plane. Better to suggest Jetpack and Alexa – nice little Smart Cars in the world of website monitoring. They aren’t as sexy as a private jet, but they’ll get your clients where they want to go.


2 thoughts on “Why Small Business Owners Hate Google Analytics

    1. I feel your pain, Jeff! I really like the quick ‘n dirty summaries of traffic statistics provided by some WordPress plugins; Jetpack does a great job, for example.

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