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Google Analytics can answer many questions about who is visiting your site and what they’re doing when they get there.  This allows you to see what’s working, what’s not and fine tune your website for the best visitor experience.

The amount of data available through Google Analytics can feel overwhelming at first.  How do you know where to start and what is most important?

The Basics

Before we go over the key areas you need to keep an eye on, make sure you have basics set up:

Date Range – Make sure you set your date range before you start.  Do you want to see this week’s results or last month’s?   You can also compare your chosen date range to another date range, which automatically generates percentage increases or decreases across all the metrics.

Goals – Clearly defined goals are a crucial part of using your Google Analytics effectively.  Goals tell you when something important on your site has happened.  The goals you set should be in line with your business objectives.  For example, if your business objectives are around building your database, set up a goal around site visitors submitting contact information.

With the right goals, Google Analytics can provide you with the information you need to assess the effectiveness of your online marketing activity.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are the most important metrics to keep an eye on:

Website Traffic – How many people are visiting your site?

The total number of visits gives a good indication of the overall health of your website.  If you’re seeing a long term decline in traffic, it’s a sign that what you’re doing isn’t working and you need to change things fast.

Website traffic can also be a good indicator of whether your promotional activities are working.  A spike in traffic after the start of a promotion is a sure sign you should schedule similar activity again in the future.

Traffic Sources – where are your visitors coming from?

There are 4 categories of traffic sources:

Organic Search – traffic coming from search engines.  Search engines are an incredibly important source of traffic.  With over 3.5 billion Google searches each day having a good SEO strategy is essential and this tells you how well it’s working.

Referral Traffic – traffic coming from other websites.  Through this metric you can measure the success of online advertising such as banner ads, guest blog posts on other websites and other online activity.

Direct Traffic –people who type your website address straight into their browser.  These are usually regular customers, as they are most likely to go straight to your site.

Social Traffic –people visiting your site from social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For tips on how to get the best out of social media for your business, see our previous post here.

Audience – who is visiting your site?

You can view your visitors by language, country or city to gain a more in depth understanding of who your visitors are and where they are from.

You can also see how engaged visitors are with your site:

  • Average number of pages viewed per visit – more pages viewed indicates a higher level of interest
  • Average visit duration – the longer a visitor spends on your site, the more engaging and informative it is.
  • Bounce rate – the number of single page visits. Ideally this number should be as low as possible as it means visitors are leaving your website quickly.
  • New visits – the percentage of new people visiting your site

Content – What pages are visitors looking at?

Knowing which pages are the most viewed on your site is one of the most important metrics.  This shows you what your visitors are interested in.  This data can help you:

  • Ensure your top pages are kept up to date with the latest information
  • See which pages on your site need development and improvement if they’re not ranking where they should be
  • Experiment with new content – find out what works and what doesn’t

Once you know what type of content ranks the best with your visitors, post more to keep them coming back.

Conversion rate – Are your visitors doing what you want them to?

A conversion is when a visitor to your site does something that you deem important.  These actions are usually one of three types:

  • A sale
  • Signing up to a newsletter or email list
  • A social action, such as a share

This is the best indicator of whether your digital marketing is working – you can see whether your visitors are doing what you want them to once they reach your site.

High conversion rates increase your site’s profitability while a low conversion rate can mean that your call to action is weak, your copy is ineffective or that you are attracting the wrong people to your site.

In Summary

This is a basic overview of the insights Google Analytics can provide into your website.  There is much more information you can track but it is important to have a grip on the basics before getting into more in depth analysis.  If you’re having trouble deciphering your Google Analytics reports or you would like specific information but don’t know how to get it, this is where a good Marketing Agency can help.  Get in touch with Energise and let us know what you need.

EMA Business Plus August 2018

NB: This article was published in the EMA “BusinessPlus” magazine. Enterprises of all types and sizes join the Employers and Manufacturers Association, for opportunities to learn and grow, make valuable business connections and change the world. EMA provides its members with professional advice and training to succeed in many aspects of business.