Google Analytics tracks users and views to provide key insights into acquisition and behaviour flow, making it a very powerful tool for website owners. If you have installed Google Analytics into your website but haven't looked at the data, or do not understand what the data is telling you, this post is for you.
Firstly we'll cover the key terms you'll need to understand and some of the key information you can extract from the Analytics tool.
A session is the period of time in which a user is actively engaged in your website. The same user can have multiple sessions, which is why this figure is usually higher than users. Users:
Unique users who have visited your site one or more times during the selected date range. In general these are specific unique people who have viewed your website, although people using multiple devices (e.g desktop and phone) will show as two users. Page views:
Total number of pages views. Every page viewed per session is included in this figure, including pages viewed multiple times by the same user. Bounce Rate:
The percentage of single page sessions in which the page was not interacted with. This effectively means someone has entered your website and left quicker than Google Analytics could register a time. If this is a particularly high percentage you should look into what might be causing this, e.g slow page loading speed, unresponsive websites being opened on mobile or spam traffic. You can test the speed and responsiveness of you website here ( https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Tracking your website visitors is vital for monitoring the success of certain marketing campaigns. By changing the date range at the top of the Audience Overview page (under Audience in the left hand navigation menu) you can review a snapshot of the users and sessions on your website during a set period of time. Within the date setting you can also set the dashboard to compare data from the previous year or period to help to give you an overview of your website's performance. Look for peaks and troughs and compare these to your marketing activity at the time.
As well as tracking visitors (users and sessions) there are a few other useful metrics which can be found on this page. They include:
- Pages per session
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
Ultimately there is no perfect amount of pages per session, or specific bounce rate to aim for as all of these metrics will vary greatly by industry and website size. However, they can be used to get an idea of how your site is viewed and monitor how changes in your website impact your visitors. For example if the bounce rate for your Adwords campaign landing page is too high it will inflate your cost per useful click. If you implement design changes these metrics are also very useful to keep an eye on.
Knowing where you traffic is coming from is arguably more important than the actual figures as it gives a good indication of the success of your marketing activities. Google Analytics breaks these channels down into a handful of main categories: Organic Search (traffic from search engines), Paid Search (traffic from PPC activities such as Adwords), Direct, Social, Referral (visitors have found your site through a link on another website which isn't a search engine. There may also be a few other categories, or a few less, depending on your marketing activities.
As you add more focus and financial support to some marketing, such as SEO or social media adverts, you can review the Acquisition Overview and Acquisition Channels pages on Google Analytics to review how they have impacted your website traffic. By clicking into each channel you can find out more information, such as which social media platform visitors have come from on specific days, or which external website links have referred the most traffic. It will even break down the visitor metrics in the section above by these channels to help you analyse their performance by more than just visitor numbers.
All of these metrics have covered the website as a whole, but it's also useful to break these down by page, especially if your business provides multiple services or product categories. The Behaviour Overview page covers this briefly, or visit Behaviour Site Content for a more detailed view. By analysing the data on these pages, you can see which pages attract the most visitors, and hold their attention for the longest.
I hope you've found this beginner's guide to Google Analytics useful, although do bear in mind this only scratches the surface of this tool's capabilities.
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