Google Analytics is a fantastic go-to resource for hitting that online profitability bullseye. When harnessed correctly, it is a tool that will help you ensure that your website achieves its full potential. But how do you get the most out of the data provided? For those who are new to analytics, all those digits might present as a bit of a head scratcher. However, Google Analytics was designed with ease of use in mind. You simply need a little guidance from the trusted Teapot team! Get comfortable and prepare to read on, because we are going to dig into what Google Analytics has to tell you, and explain how to interpret and harness that information to the greatest effect.
Why Do We Need Analytical Data?
Imagine the way that you use technology to prepare for a first-time journey. You know the name of the destination that you hope to arrive at, but you are not simply going to get in the car and start driving! To plan your route, you might take all sorts of useful information into account, such as weather conditions, road works, likely congestion, and tolls. The data provided by Google Analytics performs a very similar function, but in this case for building virtual business success. It helps you to ensure that your efforts are carrying you in the right direction, and helps you identify flaws in your virtual journey, so that you can correct your strategy and achieve your digital potential!
Navigating Your Google Analytics Interface
Having jumped on the Google Analytics bandwagon, you will find yourself in great company. This is because Google Analytics is by far the most used analytics resource out there. While it gets busy recording data from your website, you can absorb its discoveries by examining the many tables, graphs, and charts that Google Analytics provides. Upon arriving at the interface, you will discover a handy set of overviews, paired with a Reports menu – the latter allows you to take a deeper dive into each data area, but we’ll come back to that shortly!
Sticking to the homepage for a moment, you will first and foremost find a graph that describes visitors to your site over the last seven days. The graph is topped with four statistics: Users, (the number of unique visitors); Sessions (how many visits took place overall); Bounce Rate (how many times visitors left as quickly as they arrived); and Session Duration (an average of how long people stayed around). Bounce rate is a number that we want to keep as low as possible, as it indicates that visitors didn’t feel inclined to explore further on your website. Session duration is something that we want to see get nice and plump, as those who linger have obviously found something of value, making it more likely that they will convert into paying customers.
Below the aforementioned graph, you will discover a Traffic Insight. This gives an instant snapshot of where your visitors are coming from – which will be invaluable for sculpting your marketing strategy. There is also an Audience Insight, which tells you where your visitors are located, what time of day they tend to arrive on your website, and what devices they are using. Finally, the Behaviour Insight lets you know which pages on your site are performing the best, and which might be letting the side down. Each of these is a mere taste of what awaits via the Reports menu. So, lets click, and explore a little further!
Google Analytics Reports
The first link on the left-hand Reports menu carries you to a Real-Time overview of how your audience is interacting with your website. Here, you can monitor which content or product pages are being viewed. If you don’t get too absorbed in the live action, you can move onto specific areas, for deeper insights!
When we talk about our “audience”, we are describing the visitors to our website. Clues to who our audience are can help us to target our marketing more effectively, by increasing the relevance of what we put out there. It can help us expand our product offering, improve our “calls to action”, or change our content strategy. Google Analytics gives access to invaluable demographics data, such as whether members of our audience are new or returning, and which devices they are using.
Few returning visitors likely indicates that content is not of high enough quality, or that there are website design issues in play. Infrequent new viewers likely indicates that your website’s SEO, Social Media presence, and PPC advertising (if you’re paying for campaigns) are not up to scratch. When it comes to devices, if mobile usage is down then the mobile version of your site may be underperforming. Considering that people browse more on their smartphones than their desktops these days, such a spot can be a game changer!
The term “acquisition” describes the means and sources from which we are luring our website visitors. In this area, Google Analytics not only tells us how visitors are reaching our site in the first place, but also how they are interacting once they have arrived. A good healthy spread of traffic sources is a great indicator of the strength of your website. Examining each source individually, you can identify if different areas of your marketing strategy are doing their jobs.
For example, if you have had a big push on SEO, you should see your Organic traffic from Google searches bump up respectively. Similarly, if you have been upping your game by posting great blog content on Social Media, you will certainly hope to see a spike in your Social traffic. If rather than blogging on your own site, you have been hunting down chances to post guest blogs elsewhere, you’ll ideally see a boost in Referral traffic – or those who’ve arrived from a link on another website. If any of these figures are not as you anticipate or aspire to, then you can work on trying to deduce exactly what your strategy is missing.
If there were a major flaw on your website, you would want to know about it, right? Google Analytics’ Behaviour report is just the ticket in this case. It will help you spot if a particular page is serving as a major turn-off and driving people off your website all together. You can also sleuth out which stage of your sales funnel is either causing would-be buyers to lose their mojo or give up on a purchase because of technical issues. Of course, a “Thank You For Your Purchase” page is likely to see customers navigate away, but if a content page is doing the same, it might be ranking for the wrong reasons, or need a facelift of some sort.
High bounce rates might indicate that your pages are ranking for the wrong keywords, or that it is not immediately obvious to your visitors what to click on next. In the latter case, reformatting of menus, or inserting great “calls to action” can work wonders. Too many bounces might also indicate technical issues, such as slow load speeds. Remember, if your site takes more than five seconds to load, you can expect to lose more than a third of your visitors! Of course, behaviour statistics will also tell you which of your pages are doing a fantastic job.
Which pages do people land on, and which drive people towards sales, sign-ups, or moving further through your sales-pitch? What can you learn about successful pages, and how can you apply that elsewhere on your site? What patterns can you see in the path visitors take towards converting into your customer pool?
Getting The Most Out Of Google Analytics
Google Analytics is surely the ultimate sidekick when it comes to tracking your website’s performance. It can help you cultivate a far greater understanding of your audience, helping you to connect with visitors in a much more meaningful way. It can highlight areas for improvement, and help you to identify and capitalise on everything that you do get right.
Don’t forget to explore its other useful features! Use the Search function to hunt down the information you are hankering for, and the Discover function to read more about the virtual toolkit that you now have at your fingertips. Customisation will allow you to really go pro, modifying your Google Analytics dashboard to suit your needs, and creating custom reports. Through Admin, you can make sure that your account settings are always up to date. We imagine that this might be necessary, as your online empire expands!