Sometimes in our periodic frustration with Google (over say, how needlessly difficult it is to properly link Google My Business to Google+ to our YouTube channel), we forget what incredible services they actually provide to users free of charge. Those of us old enough to remember know that it didn’t used to be possible to just search for answers to basic questions and immediately receive accurate and helpful answers. Now, for virtually any informational question you have, the answer is there at your fingertips or even voice search.
From the business owner’s perspective, I would put Google Analytics in this category of incredible stuff that’s now just free. By placing a short snippet of code on your site, you are able to see how many people come to your website, how they found you (from SEO or SEM), and what they did once they arrived. Speaking again in pre-Google terms, this would be a costly enterprise software suite, not a free service, which it now is.
Now that we have the proper gratefulness for “GA” just in time for Thanksgiving, let’s talk about what metrics a business owner should focus on in the busy and complicated-looking interface.
How to Use Google Analytics
Once you’ve set up Google Analytics, you can start seeing data about your website traffic. Here are some of the main questions to ask and areas to focus:
- Set your timeline in the upper-right corner
- Focus on Reporting>Audience>Overview
- How many visits and how many visitors? Look at number of sessions and users onsite
- How many pages did they visit? Average # of Pages per session
- Behavior>Overview shows Page view breakdown by page
- How long did they stay on your site? Avg. Sessions Duration
- Audience>Behavior>Engagement shows further breakdown of visitor time onsite.
- How many clicked back or left your website after viewing a single page? Bounce Rate
- How many new visitors came to the site? The New vs. Returning Visitor pie graph is interesting (visitors who clear their cookies would count as new).
- Where are visitors coming from? Audience>Geo>Location .
- There’s sometimes some noisy traffic from Russia, China, etc, so it’s good to see how much is U.S. if that’s your focus.
- What states or towns? You can click United States and see specific states and keep drilling down even to the town.
- How did they get to my site?Acquisition>Overview
- What did they search if the traffic was organic?
- If you’ve already connected Google Webmaster Tools (which I recommend), you can click Acquisition>Search Console>Queries to see some of the searches that led people to your site.
- This can be especially useful to learn the language prospects and customers are using to search for you.
- Double-down on these terms in your SEO and Adwords campaigns.
What are some of the intermediate features?
- If you want cleaner data that excludes your staff’s visits to the site, you can duplicate the “View,” and set up a filter to exclude traffic from your IP address, other countries, etc.
- I’m sometimes amazed how much client traffic is actually just internal.
- Setting up page view goals for the Contact form or other pages can also be helpful, but you can get that info under Behavior>Overview as needed.
- Create custom audiences to re-target with Ads. For example, if you own an e-commerce store and you saw visitors were going to the Shopping Cart page but not the Order Complete page, you can advertise to them as they browse the web and Facebook. Many of us have seen these ads from Amazon and other vendors, beckoning us back to buy. Well, this is a high-converting trick that even smaller companies can and should take full advantage of.
Need help with your analytics?
If you contact us, we can set this up for you, help you make sense of it all, and start creating sales funnel goals so you know exactly how many leads your website brings you as you earn more traffic through search engine optimization and marketing.
“That which gets measured, gets improved,” so start measuring the effectiveness of your website to your business.