14 Oct 2018

Understanding Google Analytics

Wendi Hill
SEO

Understanding the data behind your website’s performance is crucial to maximizing and optimizing your digital footprint. It is essential to form a clear picture of exactly where your website’s traffic is originating, the behavior of users once they arrive on your domain, and the various elements of greatest interest to your visitors.

Google Analytics (GA) is a free data-collection service geared towards enabling you to form a clear understanding of the many dynamics at play within your Internet presence. The shear amount of data GA provides can be overwhelming, but here are just a few ways to better understand and utilize Google Analytics.

Deploy

Implementing Google Analytics is easy. GA provides a short snippet of tracking code which, once added to the header of every page on your domain, begins collecting data which GA displays in a user-friendly dashboard. Now it’s time to review your data!

Timeframes

Understanding your data begins with choosing a time frame. GA defaults to a 7-day time frame, but you can compare data Week-to-Week, Month-over-Month, Year-over-Year or in any number of custom time periods.

It might be helpful to view all of the key data points, framed within different time periods. As with all data analysis, comparing timeframes can give you a clear understanding of trends.

Audience

Within each timeframe, the first to be displayed is Audience data. This represents all the traffic visiting your website and is broken out by the following metrics:

1. Total Sessions: this is an indication of the total number interactions with your website an individual user initiates during the timeframe in question. One session might include numerous page views or only one. An increase in sessions equates to greater interest being taken in your website.

2. Total Users: this is the number of unique visitors to your website during the timeframe in question. An increase in users indicates interest being taken in your website by more people.

3. Page Views: this is the total number of pages visited by your users, on average. If you have one page in particular that you want to drive people to, then a small number of page views does not indicate a lack of success. If, however, your goal is to drive people to as many pages as possible and guide them on a journey through your website, then the more page views the better!

4. Average Session Duration: is one of the most meaningful metrics and is a measure of the amount of time being spent on your website. A low Average Session Duration might indicate either content of low value to the user or a poor user experience.

5. Bounce Rate: is the percentage of visitors who arrive at your website and immediately turn around and leave. A low number (anything under 40%) is desirable. Bounce Rate can be indicative of a poor user experience or even a misleading Google description.

Understanding the data behind your website’s performance is crucial to maximizing and optimizing your digital footprint. It is essential to form a clear picture of exactly where your website’s traffic is originating, the behavior of users once they arrive on your domain, and the various elements of greatest interest to your visitors.

Wendi Hill

Acquisition

The next collection of data focuses on Acquisition. This is highly valuable information as it gives a very in-depth view of how people are finding your website.

1. Organic traffic originates from keyword searches within all the major search engines, not just Google. Understanding exactly what keywords people are typing into the search engines can help you put a sharper point on your website’s textual content, impacting SEO.

2. Social Network traffic originates from a link in your social media accounts. This link can be in your Instagram profile or within your Facebook or Twitter posts. No matter the method, social media traffic is some of the most valuable and this metric enables you to cultivate SM content designed to drive quality traffic to your site.

3. Direct traffic originates with users typing your address into their URL bar or clicking on a bookmark. These are people who know you and choose to return to your website, finding it valuable enough to bookmark.

4. Finally, referrals originate from other websites. Whether it’s the chamber of commerce, trade sites, or even the Yellow Pages, referral traffic can show you the value of advertising or partnering with these other sites.

Other Key metrics

Aside from Audience and Acquisition metrics and the insight they provide into your user’s behavior, some other key metrics to focus on include:

1. Mobile vs. Desktop: more and more users are surfing the web from their mobile devices. As the trend of mobile users shifts more towards 50% and beyond, it’s important to watch the correlation between mobile users and bounce rate. Is your website mobile optimized (responsive)? Is it causing a poor user experience? If so, it’s time to upgrade!

2. Site Speed: not only does this contribute to a positive user experience, but optimized site speed is an absolute must when it comes to mobile users. Furthermore, Google is actively bumping slow and sluggish sites down the rankings in favor of speedy, optimized websites. Don’t be left behind!

3. Demographics: this is valuable information around your visitors’ age, gender, location and online purchasing interests. Demographic data allows you to get in front of the people you want to market to and stay there.

These are just a few of the most impactful metrics delivered by the enormous wealth of data provided by Google Analytics. Mastering these key metrics will give you actionable information and empower you to put your website to work!

Market Momentum can help! We are Google Analytics power users and we understand the nuances of each metric. Let us deploy Google Analytics on your domain today and begin optimizing your digital footprint! Contact us today to get started!

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