10 Things to Know (& Use) in Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the premier (and most widely used) tool available today for website analytics. It has a boatload of functions and features to help you really understand your visitors and users, their actions on your website, what they click on, what they don’t click on and, most importantly, determines where your website is succeeding and where it is failing. Ultimately, your website just needs to convert visitors into customers, because after all, isn’t that why you’re in business?
Here are 10 features you should know about (and use) as part of Google Analytics:
Common Terms Used by Google Analytics
Google Analytics uses a lot of terms that you may or may not be familiar with. To get the most out of Google Analytics, you should know what some of these terms means and how it gets applied to your website.
Acquisition: How you acquire visitors to your site.
Bounce Rate: The number of people who visit only one page of your website and then leave (either clicking back to the results page or closing the browser). High Bounce Rates often indicate that your pages are not relevant to what your visitors are looking for. If you have high Bounce Rates, you may need to create better content, organize your pages better or optimize them for conversion. This could include using landing pages more effectively or rewriting or reorganizing your content.
Click: The single instance of a user following (clicking on) a web link to another website page.
Conversion: A conversion occurs when a user completes a desired goal on your website – for example, if the goal is for users to make a purchase, completing the transaction through a shopping cart process would equal a conversion. Conversions can be as simple as clicking a link, filling out a form or interacting with content. Google Analytics allows you to create customized goals so you can measure user actions that are important to your website.
Click-Through-Rate (CTR): The number of clicks your website gets in search engine results pages (SERPs) divided by the number of impressions (how many times your site is served up in a given search) your listings get.
Entrances/Entrance Page: (also known as Landing Page) This is where visitors to your site land or “enter” your website from a search engine or another website. Your home page will likely see the highest entrances.
Exit Rate: This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after looking at a particular page. If a visitor leaves and exits from the same page, it is considered a bounce rate. If the user visits multiple pages, then exits a page, that page will compose the exit rate.
Page View: The number of pages a visitor views over the duration of their visit to your website.
Pages/Session: This is the average number of pages viewed during a session.
Sessions: A session is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. A single session may contain multiple page views, interactions and clicks.
Setting a Date Range
To view a particular date range so see what your site’s traffic, interaction and conversions are/were, you need to set the date range for the particular timeframe you are interested in. Upong logging in to your account and navigating to any of the categories on the left side bar, a line chart will display to the right. At the top right, you’ll notice a date range. Click the date range and a calendar shows. Select your starting and ending dates of your date range, as shown below, then click Apply.
Your analytics will display only those results for the particular date range you selected. This, as said before, is important if you want to analyze the effectiveness of a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaign or to determine a response to new content.
Locations and demographics can tell you a lot about where your visitors come from and who they are – not specifically, unless they contact you, but where they live, their age, gender and more, IF that information is available. Location, on the other hand, is always available and will tell you were your users reside, which states and even down to the town or city they live in. This is particularly handy when trying to determine how well your marketing is working to a specific target audience.
New Vs. Returning Visitor Report
Another useful report on Google Analytics is the New Vs. Returning Visitor report. This report displays the amount of new users to your site vs. the amount of returning users. This particular report can tie in with your bounce and exit rates if your new visitors are greater than your returning visitors. Is your site actually converting? Are people coming back to your site or are they just curious and then bouncing from your site? These metrics (data about your visitors) can provide useful information and may tell you what needs to change about your site to have visitors coming back for more.
The chart below shows the amount of sessions vs. the % of new sessions during a particular timeframe.
Determining how your site is interacted with on different devices is a key factor in how usable your site is. If your site is responsive, it should display well already on different devices, but it won’t tell you which device your visitors are using to access your site the most. This report is found under Audience > Mobile > Overview. As seen below, the data collected shows the percentage of users accessing your site via desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices (such as phones).
Perhaps one of the most interesting and useful features that Google Analytics has to offer is its category on visitor behavior. Analyzing a visitor’s behavior as they navigate through your site (and hopefully convert) is extremely useful as it provides real world testing to see how visitors move from page to page, or if they bounce immediately. In the behavior overview, it shows bounce, exit and entrance rate per page to show how users are entering and exiting from your site. It’ll show the average page views per session and much more.
Another useful feature of the behavior cateogry in Google Analytics is the behavior flow – how your visitors go from page to page and where they exit. This helps you virtually get inside the mind of your visitors – why did they go from the home page to your contact page? How did they get there? What did they do when they got on the contact page? Did they exit or convert? This will go a long way towards telling you more about your user’s interaction with your website.
Configuring a Goal Flow
Having goals for your site is great – however, what good is a goal, if you can’t measure it? Or how you got there? Or where you went wrong? Google Analytics makes it (relatively) easy to track whether folks are converting (or not) by using goal flows. A goal flow is a desired path that you want a user to take to ultimately convert – purchase that item, download that resource, contact you for more information. To setup a goal flow, go to Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow. Click Set Up Goals and create your new goal. There are a variety of options here (and so may force you to create another page on your site, such as a “thank you for contacting us page”) but all things considered, the process is pretty easy.
The purpose of any website is to get leads – to convert visitors into customers. Conversions are the way to do that. Tracking conversions can tell you a lot of information about your customers like: what did they click on to complete the conversion? Where do your potential customers come from? What types of marketing do they respond to or not respond to? Are they bouncing or are they exiting? By configuring the goal flow mentioned above and tracking your conversions (also referred to as conversion rate) you can better optimize your site for future potential customers.
This is but a smattering of what Google Analytics can do, however, the ten features above are, what should be considered, bare minimum features that you should be using if you have an analytics account.
If you have any questions, please let us know!