Google Analytics: for those who have never encountered the application before, it can be daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it’s really not that bad. There is so much information and so many metric options available in Google Analytics so it important to know what to look for and why. One thought that continually came to mind in the first few weeks of dealing with Google Analytics included, how will I possibly ever learn what this all means? Luckily enough, Google Analytics has been set up so it’s relatively easy to navigate and it’s so commonly used that there are many additional guides that can help, like this one!
Google Analytics can answer many questions that many bloggers or business owners may have, such as:
- How many users are actually visiting the site?
- Where the website’s audience is coming from?
- How does the website receive traffic?
- What are people looking at on my site?
- How long do users stay?
The list of questions can go on but often those are the basics. Knowing how users are engaging with your site is the first step to understanding and improving.
Below is a quick dashboard overview and the general idea behind what each side tab can tell you about your website.
The Power of the Main Page
From the main Overview page, many of these simple questions from above can be answered. Going to your sites Overview tab on the left is the easiest place to start to look for information on how to better understand and improve your site. The Audience Overview tab is highlighted in green in the image below.
This basic view will let you see a lot of information in one place. Often times this large amount of information is the reason this interface can be overwhelming. The trick is knowing what it all means and how to sort through it. In the Overview page, you can change the date to see the rise and fall of traffic on the site over a certain period of time. As you can see from the red arrow, we are viewing the data for one month, so from May 1st to May 31st.
The Who: Visitors
Most questions that site managers may have all rely on how visitors are reacting and engaging with the site. The Overview page is able to give you insight into this. It tells you:
- How long the average visitor stays (Avg. Session Duration)
- How many pages they visited (Pages/Sessions)
- Whether they’ve been to the site before (% New Sessions)
Going further down the page, you are able to see a pie chart that separates new visitors to your site from returning visitors. This page also gives you information such as bounce rate, demographics, the type of browser being used, etc. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website without clicking through to another page. It is important to keep this number low.
From the main Audience Overview page, you are also able to get more specific and segment the information at the top by clicking “+ Add Segment” in blue. You can segment visitors by a variety of factors whether by the demographics of your visitors such as age, gender, language, etc. This information can also be found in more depth in the Demographics side tab under Audience.
There is no ideal number for each metric because every industry is different. So the best thing to do is to look for drastic changes and see what changed, whether you did something on your end to drive traffic or if something has gone wrong. Having the graph at the top really helps see these changes visually.
Another question site managers have is which browser are visitors using to get to their site. The source can be seen in the Overview tab under System. As you can see by the picture below, 26.23% of our users are using Chrome.
The How: Source
The Acquisition section will tell you how visitors found your site. It will tell you whether visitors directly typed in your web address (Direct), searched in a search engine (Organic Search), found your website from another website (Referral) or from social media (Social). To get an idea on what keywords visitors are using to find your site when doing a search through a search engine, then click on Organic Search highlighted in pink below.
The acquisition tab is also where you can see the influence of AdWords campaigns on your website.
The What: Behavior
An extremely important section to look at closely is Behavior because it shows how users are engaging with your website. It shows you which pages are getting the most traffic and how long users stay on that page. This is important to know so that you can adjust your content accordingly. For example, if your site has a high number of page views but the visitors are not staying very long, you can infer that users are clicking around and not finding the information they are looking for. If this is the case, we recommend re-evaluating your content so that its easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and take an action.
Under the Behavior tab is the section Page Content. Here you can see the top pages users go to on your website. The most visited web page from this site was the homepage (represented by /), then their services and so on. You can also see avg. time on each page, bounce rate of each page, exit percentage of each page, and more.
Overall, there is so much important information that this one single free software can tell you about your site. Knowing the basics covered in this post will help you better understand Google Analytics and in the long run, can help improve your business.