Understanding Your Google Analytics
Here at Visionary, we have recently taken a hard look at our clients’ Google Analytics summaries. As part of our initiative to educate clients on how to monitor and improve their sites, we have begun sending monthly analytics reports to those who pay for the additional service as part of their monthly hosting and support package.
What is Google Analytics exactly? It’s an extremely powerful, useful, and free tool offered by Google that tracks a websites’ visitors, bounce rates, page views – and so much more.
The amount of data collected is incredible – and it can seem very intimidating.There are a few very important metrics, or individual statistics that Google measures, that you should pay particular attention to. Simply knowing which metrics are important for your site can greatly increase your understanding of your web traffic.
The dashboard is the main overview of your site's analytics. It gives a brief overview of your statistics, such as new users, sessions by browser, sessions by geographic location, bounce rate, and average session duration. Making yourself familiar even with just the items on the dashboard will be instrumental in understanding your traffic.
Many of the statistics on the dashboard can be filtered in: hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly periods. Google makes it simple with easy-to-read graphs.
A bounce rate is when a user visits only one page on your website and then immediately leaves.
Bounce rates increase when a user cannot find what he or she is looking for, or when there is no clear call to action on a landing page that motivates a user to further explore the site. Bounce rates can also spike when there is a lot of traffic coming from mobile devices but the site does not have a user-friendly mobile interface.
When users access sites like these on their smartphones, they can still navigate to pages and view content, but they typically need to zoom in to do so. That added level of work is enough of a hassle to coax users away.
Take a look at the highlighted line in the image above. For this site, 320x568 is ranked No. 1 because it is the most popular screen resolution for mobile users – likely an iPhone. When viewed on this small of a screen, the bounce rate is 73.82%, a relatively high number. This could indicate that users get frustrated when viewing this site from a mobile device and leave.
There are no hard and fast rules for “good” or “bad” statistics and bounce rates. Use your best judgment when interpreting these metrics, with statistics for your desktop site as a baseline. Consider what a high bounce rate or low session duration might mean for your site. Are users getting frustrated? Are they not finding what they need on your home page? Or do they find what they need immediately and that’s why they leave?
In the “Audience Overview” section, there are a few very handy graphs. The “New vs. Returning Visitors” graph is very helpful. There is also an option to see how many unique visitors your site has received. This is a golden statistic as it weeds out the people who work at your company or who visit the site very often without the purpose of coming for its information.
Seeing the ways that people are coming to your site is an eye-opening experience. Google Analytics will show you if users are coming in through direct traffic (someone types in your URL), referring sites (someone clicks a link from another site, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn), or search engines (a user happens upon your site via a search engine). There are also ways to track keywords and search terms to be able to see what types of things people are searching for that brings them to your site. These statistics are key for SEO (search engine optimization) as you can see what people are searching for to get to your site and determine whether you want to be found through different keywords.
This metric can be viewed under Behavior / Site Content / All Pages. It shows which of your pages are visited the most, how many unique page views there are, the average time spent on that page, Entrances (number of visitors that entered your site through a specified set of pages), and Bounce Rate for those pages.
These are just a few important Google Analytics metrics that are the most valuable and easy to understand. By offering insight into your site users, they can help you better determine what your website needs in order to act as a better marketing tool for your business or organization.
There is so much more to explore regarding Google Analytics. If you would like to learn more, please contact us!