Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Depending on your website traffic, it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days for Google Analytics to collect enough data to populate the various reports. Once the data is available, you can start to investigate specific metrics such as number of visitors to your site, how many of these are unique or repeat visitors, how visitors get to your site, which pages on your site have been visited the most, what is the bounce rate, and the average time spent viewing your site.
There are so many options in Google Analytics, that trying to understand and determine what settings to tweak can be challenging. However, the best place to start is by choosing a small set of metrics and reports that will help you and your business derive more value from your website.
One of the most important things a business owner can do is understand how their website is being used. Armed with that information, it’s possible to apply that knowledge to make improvements and drive more valuable traffic to the site. This process starts with the visitor report where a site owner can see the number of visits, unique visitors, pages per visit, average time on site, and bounce rate. The relative importance of each of these metrics is determined by what you want your visitors to do once they reach your site.
In addition, the number of visitors can also be your first indication of something wrong (if traffic suddenly dips) or something right (if traffic suddenly rises). Monitor the trends in traffic and try to understand what causes peaks and troughs. Changes in visitor volume can often point to positive and negative reactions to site updates, social media activity, and marketing campaigns.
Where does your web traffic come from? That’s a question that a surprising number of business owners are unable to answer. Sources typically range from organic search, paid advertising, third party referrals, and direct type-ins.
Examine the volume of traffic from each source. If you have low organic search numbers, it may mean that your site needs to be updated and optimized for search engines. Do you pay for advertising and are you getting enough traffic to justify the expense? Quite often, site owners can lower their advertising costs by improving site content and optimization.
Now that you know how many people are visiting your site and where they’re coming from, you need to understand where they’re landing when they arrive. Examining the landing page metrics helps you understand whether the information you’re delivering matches the needs of your visitors.
One of the more fundamental questions you should ask is whether visitors are landing on the pages you want them to see first. If they’re not, that could point to problems with search engine optimization or the way advertising has been configured. Once on the landing page, are visitors staying on the site? If not, this indicates that the content is not relevant or appealing.
This section may not be relevant to all business owners – it all depends on what you regard as a successful conversion. If your goal is to have someone call you or visit your physical store, then this is not relevant. On the other hand if you want to make sales or have visitors register with your site, you should spend some time focusing on conversions.
With the overwhelming amount of information, these three reports can help you get comfortable in Google Analytics so you feel confident digging deeper and understanding more complex metrics and what they mean for your business.
Are you looking to set up a Google Analytics account to track your website traffic? Do you already have Google Analytics in place but are unhappy with the data your seeing? Contact us today and we can help you interpret the information in the reports, identify problem areas, and develop a plan to improve your visitor retention.