You’ve used Google to navigate the Internet, but have you considered deploying it to learn more about your website and the people who use it? In addition to its ubiquitous browser, Google offers a free analytical tool that helps track where visitors originate – and where they stall – when they visit your site.

Consider this: It’s Monday morning and a member is browsing your credit union’s Web site to find a checking account that fits her needs. She does some comparison shopping and then decides to apply for one online.

She completes part of the application, but then she closes her browser window and decides to run a few errands. What happened? Doesn’t she want the checking account?

Google Analytics – a free, easy-to-use tool – helps site owners track information about the way visitors interact with a Web site:

Find out where your users come from. Google Analytics reveals where users originate and which keywords they use to find your site. Planning an online marketing campaign? This information is invaluable. In fact, discovering your members’ common interests and online habits can help guide every kind of marketing effort your credit union does.

Find out where users go. By showing where users exit the site, Google Analytics can highlight problem areas. For instance, if several users abandon their checking account applications around question 12, there may be a problem with that question. Is it vague? Does it seem intrusive? Is there a technical glitch?

While Google Analytics provides detailed information about your site, it doesn’t actually reside on your site – and that means it doesn’t interfere with security. Typically, a webmaster or IT director installs Google Analytics by placing a few lines of code in the “html” of each page to be tracked. Even when it’s used on secure pages, like those within an application, the code still sits outside the secure areas of the page and won’t violate the privacy of the applicant.

Should you be using Google Analytics on your site? If popularity is any indicator, the answer may be yes. “We’ve noticed that metrics in Google Analytics are becoming a new success benchmark in the discussions between startups and venture capital firms,” says Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-founder/CEO of Yelp, Inc., a San Francisco, Calif.-based Web 2.0 company. And with a price tag of $0, it’s hard to afford not to investigate further.