Many people run and hide as soon as Google Analytics is mentioned. Small business owners wrongly believe it’s complicated and takes a magical skill to control. In truth, Google Analytics is easy. It may take an hour to familiarise yourself with the dashboard and data but once you do, you’ll gain incredible power over your website and SEO.
After the familiarisation you can make weekly or daily appointments to log in to your dashboard and view the information before using it to improve your site.
Here we’ll guide you through the process from logging in to demystifying the technical terms giving you an overview that will allow you to understand and use your analytics to your advantage.
To log in go to google.com/analytics. Use you username and password and wait for a list (or just one) of websites of yours to pop up. Choose “View Reports” parallel to the website you want to enter and you will be presented with your dashboard. Here’s where the magic happens.
You are now in the driving seat and can delve deep into the minds of your visitors and your target market. For many people new to Google Analytics, it can feel a little naughty as you learn just how much data you have on strangers. This data will be used to your advantage to boost your conversions and to optimise your SEO which in turn enhances the user experience too.
Fasten Your Seatbelt
Now you’ll see images, graphs and small pieces of information. You can travel further by delving into these to find out more.
Your Windscreen View
What you’re seeing is detailed reports from GA. These include traffic reports, map overlays, bounce rates, backlinks and more.
Now it’s your turn to decide what’s important to your business and what isn’t. To do this, here’s a breakdown of the information.
Pimp Your Ride
You can delete, drag or rearrange any tools or graphs you don’t want. You can bring the most important data to the top and make sure you can see the results at a glance every time you log in.
Check above and you’ll see a button that’s labelled Site Usage. This gives you metrics you need to know about. These include:
Visits: Simplicity itself, if you have an onsite counter you’ll already know this however GA gives you even more info. You can see how many people have visited during different dates. Did that tweet increase visitors on the 12th December? Now you know.
Page views: This is important, it shows how many pages people visited within your site. You want to aim high for this, the more pages they visit, the more engaging your content and the lower your bounce rates (see later).
Bounce Rate: Bounce Rate is a term you’ll come to either love or hate. In an ideal world you want this number to be very low. It signifies how many people landed on your homepage and then disappeared. It can help you determine if something on your homepage is putting people off.
Don’t despair if your bounce rate is high, there are many reasons for this such as accidental clicks, images on Google or they simply chose the wrong link. Even if it does signify that you’re losing custom through poor navigation, long winded copywriting or poor site design, it can all be fixed.
Avg. Time on Site: Ideally we want people to spend a while. This metric can seem very low to newbies but remember shopping or browsing online is not like shopping on the high street. It takes just seconds to scan a page. You can find out more by combining bounce rates and number of page views.
% of New Visits: This shows how many of your visitors have not been before. It depends on your business as to whether you’d like a high number or not. Some love generating new traffic while others see the value in repeat custom so this truly is in the eye of the beholder.
Dates Days and Data
Google will show you data from the last thirty days by default but you can change it to view whatever time scale you like. You can even compare dates or blocks of time to see how they measure up. This is especially useful for tracking success, such as comparing this year to last down to the month or the day.
To do this go to the top right and click on Date Range. Change Comparison to Date Range and select your dates. Voila!
GA will overlay the dates so you can see the data easily and compare with a glance. You can also do this with the map data.
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of reports available but don’t panic. There are a few that are essential whereas the others can be added or viewed as you become more confident.
To start with we suggest you choose:
Visitors Overview and Content Performance
Visitors Overview gives you valuable information such as:
- Where did your traffic come from?
- Which advertisements are bringing you traffic?
- Which external links are being clicked on the most?
- The most popular time to visit your site
- The location of visitors
- How long visitors stay
You can even dig deeper to reveal if they used a mobile device, Wi-Fi, broadband and more.
With the new panda and penguin updates content performance is critical. Not only will great content keep your customers happy it will keep Google happy too. It will also help you to manage those bounce rates, page views and average time spent.
The GA tool is incredible, it shows you which pages your visitors gravitate towards, how they use your site and how long they linger on each page. You can discover the content that’s keeping your visitors entertained and adapt the content that isn’t!
Alongside the visitors overview you can also identify keywords used in searches to bring traffic to your website allowing you to integrate these into your copy so you rank higher next time when they search.
Finally these will allow you to see who converts. This means they contact you (fill in the contact form) or complete checkout. Everything before this is aimed towards increasing this end goal.