A Basic Guide to Google Analytics
Ask any small business owner what aspect of digital marketing they find most daunting and chances are website analytics will be near the top of the list!
Whilst the Google Analytics dashboard offers an incredible amount of granular data and can initially seem overwhelming, it’s likely that just a few key metrics will give you a good insight into how your website is performing.
So why should you use analytics?
Google Analytics helps you track and analyse where your site visitors (users) are coming from and what they do whilst on your site. It shows you how well your pages are performing and if users convert to customers.
In short, the insight from analytics will help you improve each stage of the digital marketing funnel: attention, interest, desire and action (AIDA). So now you know why you need to use it, here’s a little breakdown of the four main areas of Google Analytics to help you get started – audience, acquisition, behaviour, and conversion with key metrics to focus on under each:
Here you find out more about your users!
As well as demographics such as age, gender and location, you can also see key metrics such as new versus returning users, the number of pages viewed per session (each time a person visits your site they start a ‘session’), the duration of their visit and bounce rate (how many exit after viewing only one page).
You can see where they have come from such as search, social, email or another source, and even what device they used. You can also view the data by any point in time and use it to identify trends.
Some questions this analysis will help you answer include:
- How many people are visiting my website? (sessions and users)
- Are people coming back? (new versus returning users and sessions per user)
- How long are people spending on my site? (average session duration)
- How quickly are people leaving? (bounce rate)
- Are more people accessing it by mobile, computer or tablet? (devices)
All of the above can be looked at in total or segmented by demographics and by time periods. The deeper you dive the richer the insight but small businesses need to keep a balance between the high level and the detail. Compare the insights to what you believe you know about your core audience and what can be learnt and built into your strategies.
This section helps determine which online marketing tactics are bringing traffic to your site and answers the question ‘how are people finding my website?’.
The Overview tab shows a channel breakdown including direct (url typed directly), organic (from search), email, social, referrals (link from another website) and other.
The All Traffic tab lets you go deeper still to see specifically where the user has come from.
Other tabs also give further data for search, AdWords and social.
Some questions you can answer:
- What is my best source of traffic by volume? (view sources by sessions)
- What is the best source for users that engage? (bounce rate, pages and session duration by channel)
- What is the best source for users that complete a goal on my site such as buying a product or completing a form? (see more in the conversion section)
Within this section, you can do more analysis on your site content and how users engage with it.
Once again, the Overview tab has lots of insight and the Site Content tab provides further in-depth page analysis.
Actions on pages can be tracked as ‘events’ and analysed though this will need a bit of expertise to set up. Google has training which you can do to get started.
Some questions you can answer here:
- What are my most and least popular pages? (unique views by page, top pages)
- What pages have the longest average duration and which the least? (average page duration)
- Which pages are loading slowly? (page load time)
- What pages do users enter on and leave on and what is their path through the site? (landing pages, exit pages and behaviour flow)
- What search terms, if you have a search box, are entered by users?
Conversion metrics relate to the goals you have set out on your site and this gets us into more advanced, but incredibly insightful, territory.
First, you’ll need to establish your goals – whatever is important to you – so completed forms, newsletter sign-ups, downloads, shopping cart checkouts etc. To set up your goals go to your Admin tab and use the wizard tool to do this.
With your goals now set, you can see how your site is converting users to customers.
Combined with the other metrics mentioned above you’ll be able to see which users, from which sources are most likely to complete your goals and are therefore the most valuable to nurture and grow.
There’s a wealth of insight in your analytics dashboard and if you’d like more support on this or any other digital marketing matters then get in touch, we’d love to help.