Google Analytics is a beast of a metrics tracker. It does some pretty amazing things. When used well, it can tell you pretty much everything you need to know about your website, audience, and where you should be focusing your efforts.
The only problem is that it’s a bit of information overload. Especially when you’re still getting your head around the whole thing.
WHERE DO YOU EVEN START?
Let’s start at the basic things you need to know about your website. These are how many people are visiting, where they are coming from, what they are reading, how long they are reading it for, and who they are.
If you start by tracking these basics, you can make informed decisions about your online strategy.
Knowing how many people are visiting your site is the easiest metric to find on Google Analytics. It pops a nice little graph on the first page you see for your visitor over the last week.
Now if you go up to the date, you can drop that down and change it to cover a specific period of time.
By tracking your visitors on a monthly basis you can see if your marketing strategy is working. Your aim should be to have an increase in visitors month-on-month.
Once you know how many people are checking you out, that’s great. But where are they coming from? If they are finding you on Google, then that’s great. You’re hard SEO work is paying off.
Direct traffic is where someone has come directly to your site. They’ve bookmarked a link or entered your URL straight into their browser. Direct can also be a bit of a dumping bucket if Google isn’t sure where else to place the source of the traffic, so it can include some social media sources.
Social is well, your social media accounts driving traffic to your account. Pay close attention to this as you don’t want to waste time on platforms that aren’t bringing traffic in. It’s not that you’re not active enough on it, your audience simply isn’t there.
You can and should drill down on this source information.
Once your visitor are on your site, what are they reading? You can look at this on GA in several ways.
Landing pages will tell you which piece of content brought them into your site. This is important info because if a particular blog is performing well then you want to make the most of it.
You will also want to look at your content metrics as a whole. If there are particular pages on your website getting more traffic than others, then think about what this content gives your audience. Do more of it.
Finally, you can pull up a nifty little content map that takes you through the users’ journey. You can highlight routes through here and see where people are dropping off your site. Do all your pages encourage your audience to stay on your site a bit longer?
Your bounce rate is how many people view one page of your website and then navigate away. They could be spending whole minutes on that page but if they don’t click onto something else on your site then they’ll have bounce right back off again.
There are ways to keep people on your site, looking at multiple pages. This will reduce your bounce rate.
Another good metric to track is how long they are spending reading your blog. If you have a call to action at the bottom of the page, your reading time metric will tell you if they’re even reaching that point.
This helps you work out if your content is valuable and if your audience is even seeing the bits you want them to see. If they aren’t, then change your page.
I know that it should take around 3 1/2 minutes to read this article. If my metrics tell me that you, my dear reader, are only reading this page for 30 seconds then I’ll know I need to go back and edit that intro up at the top.
You might need to activate some of your demographic information on Google Analytics.
Knowing if you are attracting men or women, their age, and location will tell you if your marketing and copy is talking to the right person. Your avatar might be one person but there is a disconnect and you’re actually attracting a different sort of customer.
Metric reports are not the most exciting part of business but they are incredibly important. Instead of guessing what’s working, you can find out what is happening.
Going through your metrics on a monthly basis can help inform your business strategy.
Still getting stuck on Google Analytics? Download my cheat sheet to help you build your monthly report.
Tracking your metrics is important for creating content for your site. You need to know if your current content is valuable for your audience and it it’s attracting the right audience.
Before you spend hours writing witty, entertaining blogs, have a look at what people are actually looking at on your site. Refine your website copy on the popular pages. You can’t re-purpose your high performing content unless you know what that is. And you can’t plan effectively unless you know your metrics.