One of the coolest features of Google’s free analytics system is that it can show you a geographic map of your website’s visitors. Geographic maps can help determine top markets, the effectiveness of offline campaigns, where to target special offers and advertisements, and more.
This info is also interesting and dare I say ‘fun’ to look at – here’s how you find it:
Start on your analytics dashboard by finding the section labeled “Map Overlay” (see below) – click on “View Report” to get started.
The next screen will show you a world map with each country having a shade of green. Some countries (like the USA and Canada) will have a dark shade of green, which indicates that these are your most important countries in terms of visitors. Other countries may not have any shading at all, which indicates you’ve likely never had a visitor from that country (see below).
At this point, you might be wondering how Google knows which country a visitor comes from. The answer is that Google Analytics looks at the Internet Protocol (IP) address of every visitor to determine where they are in the world.
If you’re not aware of IP addresses, here’s a quick run-down: Every piece of information sent across the internet has a destination IP address (where the info is going) and a return IP address (where the info came from) – sort of like a letter you mail at the post office. These IP addresses contain information about the country they came from, and often times the IP address will tell you a specific geographic location (especially in the USA and Canada). It should be noted that this technology isn’t foolproof – it’s good for trending, but it’s not 100% accurate (it’s probably only 80% accurate, maybe less).
While the world map view above is interesting, it’s probably not useful for most small business websites. Instead, let’s zoom down to the state of Colorado (since we’re a Colorado Internet marketing company) and see what we can learn.
The map (and the data below which is not shown) gives us some interesting information.
- First, it shows that Denver is by and large our biggest local market. Considering Denver is the biggest city in Colorado, that’s not a surprise. It’s also important to note that many of the IP addresses will say “Denver” is their location even if they’re technically from a suburb of Denver, so this number is likely inflated.
- Broomfield, Littleton, and Aurora were the suburbs of Denver that sent the most visitors.
- The Northern Colorado cities of Ft. Collins, Greeley, and Longmont accounted for more visitors than the Southern Colorado cities of Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
This information can be useful in a number of ways. If we’re interested in trying a mailer (like sending out postcards), we should focus on the city of Aurora rather than the city of Golden. If we’re thinking about running Radio ads, we might want to focus on the Northern part of the state instead of the Southern part…etc.
This information isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s not bad to know either…and it’s free. If you combine this info with other tracking information (like your customer files with name and address), you might be able to form a very good geographic picture of your customers.