Let us know if this sounds familiar. Your website is live and looking beautiful…but now what? How do you know if anyone is visiting your site? If they are, what are they looking at and clicking on? This is where Google Analytics comes into play.
Google Analytics is an incredibly useful, free tool that provides you with powerful data to answer the important questions you have about your website. You may be interested in more than one set of data, depending on your industry and business model.
To get you accustomed to using Google Analytics, however, we’ll start with the basic Who, Where, What, When, and Why’s of your new website.
Answering Website Questions with Google Analytics
First, you’ll need to create a Google Analytics account for your website. Once this is done, Google will provide you with a tracking code to place on your site, which then pulls visitor data and compiles it in your analytics dashboard. Within your dashboard, you’ll be able to choose any number of reports based on the questions you’d like to have answered.
Let’s take a look at how to answer the five W’s of your website. To find definitions of any unfamiliar terms you come across in this article, please use this handy reference glossary.
Who is coming to your site?
The most complete report on your dashboard for finding information on your website’s audience is called Audience Overview. This provides information on the number of visits, unique visits, page views, pages per visit, average visit duration, bounce rate, and percentage of new visits.
You can also click on several different sections of the report for more detailed information, such as:
- Demographics – find information on language and location of your website visitors
- Behavior – determine new vs. returning visitors and how long visitors remain on the site
- Technology/Mobile Preference – understand which browsers, ISP, and devices your web audience prefers
- User Flow – view how visitors navigate your site and which pages they exit from
These data points are vital in helping you refine your audience and identify potential new audiences to target.
Where is my audience coming from?
Google Analytics data quickly provides you with geographic data on locations where your website is receiving the most traffic. The report to find this information is called Acquisition Overview, which organizes visitor data into a variety of channels.
These channels are segmented into organic search, direct search, referrals, and social referrals. They allow you to understand where your audience is coming from and help you decide which channels are the most effective. You’ll find this data useful in deciding the best ways to spend your marketing dollars.
If you’d really like to drill down how your audience is finding you, click on the various sections of the analytics report.
- Traffic Sources – find information on which search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) visitors are using to find your website
- Referrals – learn which third-party websites are directing visitors to your site
- Social – dive deeper into referral traffic from social networks (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to find the most popular
What Pages Are Visitors Viewing?
Website content is vitally important when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Learning which pages and content types your audience is finding helps you understand what topics and/or parts of your business interest them most.
Learn which types of content are performing well on your site by pulling the Behavior Reports on your Google Analytics dashboard. These allow you to access useful data on decisions visitors make on your site.
- Behavior Flow – discover how visitors navigate your site and the choices they make
- Site Content – track the number of visits by page, so you can identify the most (and least) compelling content on your website
- Landing Pages/Exit Pages – learn which page audience members arrive on first and which pages cause them to leave
- Site Speed – find out how fast your webpages are loading
The more you know about how your audience interacts with your web content, the more easily you’ll be able to identify areas of improvement and make changes to support your business goals.
When Are Visitors Coming, and How Do They Compare to Previous Periods?
In the upper-right corner of your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ll find a drop down box where you’re able to select a time frame to pull your reports from. This feature allows you to customize the period of time you’d like your analytics data to describe.
Stay current with monthly, quarterly, or yearly reports and compare to previous periods of time to measure growth. There are, however, a few tips to keep in mind, when analyzing this data.
- Choose Equal Time Periods – be sure to measure growth year-over-year, rather than one month to the next, as this will be a more accurate portrayal of the data.
- Account for Seasonality – in most industries, businesses see high or low volume, depending on the time of year. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for a summer tourism destination to compare a busy month like July to a low volume month like February.
- Reading Bounce Rates – Google Analytics attributes a green arrow to numbers that have increased and a red arrow to those that have gone down. Upon first glance, it may seem that up is always good. But a lower bounce rate actually means visitors are spending more time on your website, so for bounce rates only – red is good!
Why Are Visitors Coming, and/or Why Do They Leave?
This is the most difficult question to answer, as there is no quantitative data that proves why people are or aren’t searching for your website. However, by compiling and studying all of the above reports, you can educate yourself on who your audience is, where they come from, when they arrive, and how they engage with your site.
All of a sudden, a much clearer picture develops with the help of Google Analytics. This assists with determining what makes your audience tick, and how to tailor your marketing messages to tap into that motivation.
Need More Help with Google Analytics?
Our dedicated team of marketing professionals at Signalfire are here for you. We can assist with diagnosing concerns about your current site, so you can decide whether you’d like to improve it…or simply develop a new one.
As your marketing partner, Signalfire will create an action plan with marketing solutions custom-designed to meet your unique business needs. Are you interested in learning more? Reach out over email or give us a call today at 262-725-4500.