Google Analytics is a comprehensive platform that tracks and analyzes your website’s traffic. But a lot of folks find it intimidating and challenging to use. Understanding how to get some basic information from the Google Analytics platform can give you a pretty good insight into how your website is working for you.
There are four key sections that contain actionable data:
You probably have a Google Analytics account and most likely have it connected to your website. If you don’t, and you’re thinking of signing up, use this guide on how to get started. Once you’re up and running, you’ll have to wait a few days to get data to analyze.
The first thing you’ll notice when you open the platform is Google Analytics layout and menu system. It uses a top navigation for account level features and information; and a side navigation for combing through your Google Analytics data.
The Reporting section’s side navigation (which is where you can view your website’s analytics) is broken down into the following sections:
Real-Time: Shows what is happening on your site right now. So you’ll see the current visitor count on your website, what pages they’re browsing and for how long
Audience: Gives detailed information about your website visitors
Acquisition: Shows how your visitors are arriving to your site. It gives you a breakdown (by channel) of how visitors are getting to your site
Behavior: Shows you how visitors are interacting with your site
Conversions: Provides conversion data for your various business goals and activities
The Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions tabs contain the information you can use to optimize your site.
To view your audience insights, click on Audience > Overview on the left hand menu of the Google Analytics dashboard. Google Analytics gives you detailed insights into your audience: from location, to page views to device type to language and more. This information is invaluable in allowing you to tailor your website to better suit the needs of your visitors and effectively grant them an easier viewing experience.
Below is some terminology to help better understand your Audience data:
- A Session refers to a single fixed period of time that a visitor takes action(s) on your site. So if a visitor views 3 pages on your site over a 3-minute period and then exits your site, it’ll be recorded as a single session and three pageviews
- As you may have gleaned from above, a Pageview is recorded whenever a visitor views a page on your site
- A New Visitor is any user that is visiting your site for the first time. They will be classified as a Returning Visitor on their second and subsequent visits
- A User is any computer or device that Google classifies as a unique visitor in accessing your site. So let’s say a user views your site on both their computer and tablet. Google will record that as two users. Even if a user accesses your site from two different browsers on the same computer, Google will record it as two users
- Pages/Session is the average number of pageviews per session
The Behavior section provides data on how your users are interacting with your website. You can track how long an average user stays on a specific page, the hours and days you receive the most traffic, bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who exit your site after viewing only one page), your site speed, and much more detailed and useful metrics.
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with this section. It contains everything you need to know to optimize your site and user experience, and also to manage your blog or content pages.
The Acquisition section contains data on how your website acquires traffic. It records the following traffic channels: organic (search and direct), paid, referral, email and social. It also gives you important insights into the performance of any marketing campaigns you might have.
Conversion tracking is arguably the most important functionality in Google Analytics. After all, the ultimate goal of any web analytics software/tool is to help you determine and increase the success of your website and business.
To make the most out of Google Analytics, you need to understand and identify your key performance indicators (KPIs) and set them up as Goals. Goals could range from video views, newsletter signups, purchases and more.
Carefully think about how you measure the success of your business before setting up your Goals. An accurate setup will enable you to more effectively analyze your website traffic data.
A basic overview of the above four actionable sections should ease the challenge of collecting relevant data for your business. However, getting invaluable data from Google Analytics requires work, time and patience. Take a look at some of the tutorials in the Google Analytics Academy.