Many of our clients ask me for help with Google Analytics. They hear that they should be using it, but when they try, they are overwhelmed by information overload. They don’t know where to begin. Although Google Analytics can provide some very seriously detailed information that only a geek like me would understand, it can also be very easy to find just enough information to get a snapshot of how your website is performing.
In this post, we’re going to cover 3 main areas of interest that you should get familiar with and why.
1. Visitors Overview
The first screen you see when you login to Google Analytics is the Visitors Overview. This tells you the overall performance of your website. The main thing people want to know, is how much traffic (visitors) they are getting. This is where you get that number. You can click on the date in the top right, and change the date range so you can see if your traffic is up from last month, or down.
There are two main numbers to look at in the Visitors Overview. The first is the number of visits. This is how many total visits to your website. The second number, Unique Visitors, tells you how many people visited your site. Some people visit more than once. This excludes those and gives you an idea of how many sets of eyeballs actually saw your website. Pretty cool stuff!
The other metrics in this section give you a picture of how well your site is performing once your visitor arrives.
- Pageviews: Tells you how many pages were viewed (obviously)
- Pages/Visit: An average of how many pages each person views while on your site.
- Avg. Visit Duration: How long, on average, your visitors stay on your site.
- Bounce Rate: The rate that visitors come to your site, then leave without clicking to other pages. This is an interesting number because in a lot of small local businesses, everything the user needs is on the home page. So the visitor arrives, finds your phone number, calls, then leaves the site. So high bounce rate isn’t always bad. You just have to look at in the context of your business.
- % New Visits: How much of your traffic is new and have not been to your site recently.
2. Traffic Sources
The second area of Google Analytics I would like to help you with is the Traffic Sources. In the menu on the left, click Traffic Sources, then Sources, then All Traffic. This is where you can see how effective your online marketing and offline marketing really is.
By default, it gives you your top 10 sources of traffic for your site, but you can show more in the lower right corner. In the screen shot, you will see that the top source is Google/Organic. This means that most of the traffic is coming from search. So SEO is effective for this business and I would suggest that this business evaluate their SEO and see if they can do better since much of their business is already coming from that.
The second highest traffic source for the business in the screen shot is direct/none. This means people who typed in the website and did not click on it from another site. So this might give you an idea of how your offline marketing is doing.
Feel free to explore the other sections of Traffic Sources. You can really find some useful information about how people are finding your site and where you might focus your marketing efforts.
3. Content Overview
The Content Overview in Google Analytics basically tells you what your most popular content on your site is. Usually, the top most popular content is the home page and that is often referenced by just a /. But you may find other pages that are attracting a lot of attention, and that will give you an idea of what you might do more of. For instance, if you are blogging and you find that one particular post is really popular, you might want to take a look at that and try to figure out why it’s so popular and see if you can duplicate that success on future blog posts.
This post is not meant to be the complete authority on Google Analytics help. It’s strictly an introduction. Once you get familiar with these three areas, and become more familiar with Google Analytics, you will start to explore and learn as you go. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the numbers and graphs. Get in there, explore, have fun, and learn it. You will be glad you did!