Resources for researchers

Using data to understand your online audience

Websites are increasingly being used to recruit lab staff or study participants and to publicize scientific advances. Web analytics software can help you find out who is coming to your site and how well it is working.

Google Analytics is a popular and free tool that tracks and displays information about your website. Data is organized into three main areas:Screenshot of Google Analytics

Visitors

Learn how many visitors came to your site during a specified time frame, whether they’re new or repeat visitors, and the average amount of time they spend on your site. You can assess traffic from geographic locations, identify which web browsers are being used, and how many and what kinds of mobile devices people are using to view your site. 

Traffic sources

How did people find your website? Did they use a search engine? If so, what keywords did they search for? Did they find the link on another website or type the URL into their web browser? This information can help assess whether it may be effective to advertise on a search engine or enhance the site’s search engine optimization (SEO). It can also allow you to build partnerships with groups that are recommending your site.

Content

See which pages within your site are the most popular, how many people viewed each page, the average amount of time spent on that page, and how many people left your site from that page. If a page has a high number of exits, you may want to consider how it can be reworked. An “In-page Analytics” feature allows you to see your website with an overlay of how many clicks each page and each link received.

To learn more about developing and enhancing effective online health resources, contact us at health_communication@dfci.harvard.edu or call HCC Assistant Director Catherine Coleman at (617) 632-5078.