Google Analytics is Your Best Friend
One of my favorite web tools to use is Google Analytics. I love statistics! Not in a nerdy math way but in a scientific “what is the information telling me?” kind of way. And maybe that’s nerdy too but that’s besides the point.
If you have a website, you should be using Google Analytics. There’s really no if, and, or but about it. Why? Because I said so. Just kidding. You should be using Google Analytics because it’s the ultimate tell-all of what your website is doing and how it’s performing. If you want to improve your website in any way, invest in a marketing campaign, build up your SEO, rank for specific keywords, or anything else website related you should always always always start with your Analytics. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your website as it stands before being able to strategize a game plan on how to improve it.
Google Analytics tracks everything about your website. It actually tracks so much that it’s difficult to understand what every metric translates into. I’m going to break down the most crucial metrics for you after I beat the dead horse about you needing Google Analytics. And in case you still aren’t convinced…it’s completely free and easy to set up. So now you really don’t have any excuse.
Defining Google Analytic Metrics
It would be impossible to go into detail and explain all the metrics Google Analytics uses in one blog post. Also, if you’re new to Google Analytics and just getting started then the basics is really all you need to get started.
When you first access your analytics the screen that shows up is called the Audience Overview. This screen is a snapshot summary of the last 30 days of activity. Up in the right hand corner you will see the dates selected. You can easily customize this by clicking on the box and inputting any date fields you desire to view. Below the graph there are then 7 fields: Sessions, Users, Pageviews, Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration, Bounce Rate, and % of New Sessions.
Sessions– Sessions are the number of times your website has been visited. This number can be misleading because if one person were to visit your site 3 times then that counts as 3 sessions.
Users– Users are the number of unique visitors that have visited your website. This means that even if a person visits your website 3 different times, it only counts as 1 user.
Pageviews– Pageviews are the total number of times each page has been viewed during every session.
Pages/Session– This is the average number of pages viewed per session.
Avg. Session Duration– This is the average time a visitor spends on your website. The longer a visitor stays the more promising it is for your website.
Bounce Rate– A bounce is when a person lands on your website but then immediately leaves. The visitor never clicks on any other page and only stays a few seconds on the page they initially landed on. High bounce rates are a bad sign. High bounce rates can be a result of 2 things. One is a high volume of SPAM traffic. The other is lack of engaging, quality, interactive content on your website.
% of New Sessions– Since Google Analytics tracks unique visitors on your website, it can determine how many returning visitors you have vs new visitors. An even balance between the 2 is preferred. A strong returning percentage means that you have a steady audience and offer your visitors a good reason to keep returning to your website. A strong percentage of new visitors means that you are consistently finding ways to direct new traffic to your site and increase your ability to broaden your audience.
The Acquisition Overview is the summary of where your website traffic comes from. This is broken down into 4 main categories: Direct, Organic, Referral, and Social. Each aquisition source is displayed in blue font and can be clicked on for more details.
Direct– Direct traffic is defined as visitors who find your website by typing in your URL directly into their URL toolbar. This visitor already knows your URL and is intentionally trying to visit your website.
Organic Search– Organic traffic is produced through search engines. A visitor types in a word, phrase, or even your business name, into the Search Engine Query and is directed to your website by selecting one of the search result links. When you click on “organic” you will find a list of the keywords or phrases that visitors typed in to find your website. Organic traffic is highly valued and the best kind of traffic to have.
Referral– Referral traffic occurs when a visitor is referred to your website through another link. This link could be located on a different website, shared in an email, or listed on some kind of directory website. When you click on “Referral” you will see the top referring sources to your website.
Social– Social traffic is website traffic produced through social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Stumbleupon, YouTube, etc. Your activity on social media affects how effective a social platform will be at driving traffic to your website. When you click on “Social” you will see which social platforms direct the most traffic to your website.
Behavior Overview provides you with a snapshot of what your visitors are doing once they land on your website. Behavior Overview lists your most popularly viewed pages in order. This helps you determine which content to invest in and where.
So back to beating the horse…if you have a website then you need Google Analytics. If you want to grow your business, market online, be active on social media, find out what your customers are looking for, determine where your traffic is coming from, get out of the rut your in, start with analyzing and understanding your Google Analytics report. Like I said before…it’s free!
Have a Question?
And I would never push something down your throat and then not follow through with providing all the tools you need. If you need help setting up Google Analytics, reading your Analytics report, or have any other questions about Analytics or your website, I warmly invite you to Ask Us a Question by visiting our Ask a Question page.