If you manage or own a business, you undoubtedly have a website; and if you have a website, you more than likely are using Google Analytics.
If not, stop now, do not pass go, and do not collect $200 – you’re missing out on game-changing (and free!) insights that over 90% of top websites depend on. Do yourself a favor and register a Google Analytics account for your website and install the tracking script in your site’s code. Bookmark this page and visit again in a week after your site has collected data.
And as you’ve familiarized yourself with Google Analytics, you probably at some point scratched your head, crossed your eyes, and exclaimed, “What the #$@&%*! am I looking at?” loud enough for your colleagues to hear.
Don’t worry, we can help clear some of the confusion, but you’ll have to apologize to your co-workers on your own.
The Conundrum with Google Analytics
Google Analytics’s wealth of information is both its greatest blessing and its curse – it immediately grants you a never-ending stream of website data points you can use to monitor performance. The problem is, you’ll have more data than you know what to do with, and you can always add more with event tracking, e-commerce tools, and more.
But you don’t have time for that. You have a business to run and a profit to make. You know your business better than anyone else, so let’s take the mystery out of Google Analytics so you can keep moving.
Approach Google Analytics with Your Goals in Mind
Before you start using Google Analytics – or any sort of digital analytics reporting for your website, you need to first define the business goals you hope to achieve online. Without an outcome in mind, you’ll get lost in the metrics and waste time on metrics that might not matter to you. For example, Jill the fashion-content blogger will certainly have different objectives than Joe the friendly neighborhood handy-man. So, take the time to determine what online success would mean specifically for your business and website:
- Am I looking to find more readers to view (and return to) my website content?
- Do I need to get the word out about service offerings locally or nationally?
- Am I hoping to increase sales of certain products?
- Are there other players in the marketplace I need to compete with?
Once you know what you want your website to do for your business, you can then focus on the Google Analytics insights that help you reach your goals.
Basic Business KPI for Google Analytics
The Google Analytics interface is organized into four main sections: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. Each of these sections includes several subsections and report types, so we’ll point out a few of the most important ones you should focus on first.
Audience: Who are our customers?
The Audience section focuses on the volume and composition of the visitors (so, customers) that reach your website. It’s a great place to learn more about your business’s target audience.
- Session Duration
Session Duration is the average length of time a visitor segment stays on your website and therefore engages with your site’s content. Visitors who spend more time on your site are more likely to be interested in your business (and to make purchases). Figuring out which audience segments spend more time on your site can help you optimize your site or services to engage them even more.
- Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing one page. A high bounce rate is not necessarily bad, especially if your goal is to have your visitors find information and make a decision on one page. However, if you’re looking to get visitors to view content and purchase products, working to reduce your bounce rate becomes important.
Acquisition: How are we getting our customers?
The acquisition section focuses on how visitors get to your website, whether from search (paid or organic), from social media, from other advertising efforts, or directly from their browsers. This section is the most important because it helps you figure how to get the right customers to your content, products, or services most efficiently.
- Source / Medium
This report breakout sorts your website’s visitors by property and channel simultaneously – it’s a quick and easy way to see how much paid and organic traffic is coming from Google, Bing, Facebook, and other sites.
- Search Console (This reporting requires additional setup)
Want to know which queries drive free search traffic to your website? You can find them here along with the website landing pages the visitors accessed after searching.
Behavior: How are our customers engaging with our website?
- Landing Pages and Exit Pages
These metrics help you monitor what content your visitors view when they enter and leave your website. If your visitors are leaving your site on a page before they reach your desired outcome (for example, visitors leaving when they reach an order form), you can adjust and monitor the pages to encourage visitors to perform the action.
- Site Speed
Slow pages drive customers away – site speed reports make it easy to monitor performance and ensure your site is loading quickly and easily for your visitors.
Conversions: Are our customers performing the actions that make our business successful?
Google Analytics allows you to measure Goals (or actions or events) where customers are engaging with your website. These goals, which require setup, can be anything from a sale, a completed request form, a video view, or even time spent on the site itself.
- Goal Completion Rate
This metric simply lets you view the percentage of visitors that complete a goal you define, but viewing goal values as percentages is powerful. It gives you the visibility gives you the visibility to compare performance between audience segments, traffic sources, device types, and more.
- Cost per Completion
Google Analytics also allows you to assign estimated values for goals so you can determine whether the return on your visitor’s action is worth the investment cost.
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