This article was updated on June 18, 2019, to match the current version of Google Analytics. If you’ve read our previous article on Google Analytics, now you know your way around this tool and we hope you feel comfortable enough to start experimenting with what we consider a few of its coolest features for data analysis.
Let’s turn your data into information you can use!
Dimensions and Metrics
It is important to point out the differences between these two concepts as they sometimes blur together.
A dimension is a characteristic of a visit (i.e. gender, age, location, browser, source/medium, etc.) – hence, dimensions describe data.
A metric is the “weight”/sum of the dimensions used in the report (Sessions, New Users, Bounce Rate, Page /Session, etc.) – therefore, metrics measure data. Almost 100% of the times, metrics are numbers.
By default, Google Analytics presents only one dimension. But if you want to take a deeper look into your information, you can add a secondary dimension. All you need to do is click on the “Secondary Dimension” button. You can find it in the header of the table.
Some useful reports you can create by adding a secondary dimension
- Audience > Behaviour > New vs. Returning > User Type (primary dimension) > City (secondary Dimension) – This will help you see the difference between new and returning visitors depending on their geographical location. It may come in handy if you are thinking where to expand next or where you should focus your marketing efforts;
- Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages (primary dimension) > Medium (secondary dimension) > Bounce Rate – Here you can analyze, for example, if people are more likely to interact with your website depending on the type of traffic that originated the visit.
- Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search > Keyword (primary dimension) > Landing Page (secondary dimension) – This shows the top content (landing pages) on your website in terms of the top organic keywords searches, including “(not provided)” keywords that Googles hides to protect searchers’ privacy;
- All Traffic > Channels > Source/Medium (primary dimension) > Day of Week or Hour of the Day (secondary dimension) – This is especially helpful if you have Paid Advertising, as it can help you understand in which hours or days your ads perform better so you can adjust your bidding strategy accordingly.
Other very useful reports
- Most Visited pages: find out what is your most popular content in just a few clicks: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > sort by clicking on Page Views
- Device Performance: find out if your website is more popular among desktop or mobile users, analyze where they convert more and check your bounce rate for the different devices: : Audience > Mobile > Overview > sort by the metric you want to check at the time being
To carry out a more in-depth analysis, you can add table filters.
It’s hard to know what to look at and what actions to take when your data is all over the place. To make your job easier, you can start applying filters.
Table filters will narrow down your data, making it possible to display only the data that perfectly matches the conditions you set. It’s easier to analyze the important information now, isn’t it?
You can add filters in two different ways:
- Write in the text box in the header of the table what data you want to isolate and look at;
- Click on “Advanced” right next to the text box and combine multiple filtering conditions to show or hide data in the table.
Tip: Advanced users can do more complex filtering by using regular expressions (RegEx).
Segments allow you to dynamically categorize and compare groups of users who share some dimensions. A segment is a subdivision of your data, like a slice of pie instead of the whole pie.
Examples of segments can be – users who completed a purchase, returning visitors vs. new visitors, sessions that included a view of a specific page, Paid Search traffic vs. Organic traffic; Mobile Traffic vs. Desktop traffic, and many others.
To open the segment creator tool, click on “Add Segment”, right above the chart. You can choose from one of the segments already predefined or you can create new ones by clicking the red button “+NEW SEGMENT”.
This tool works just like the table filters, so you can add different conditions and sequences of conditions to sessions or users, as long as they are part of that segment. You can also use operators like “OR/AND” or regular expressions like the ones mentioned above.
It’s hard to know what to analyze when you’re starting out. We want to make your job easier so we put together a list of 5 most useful reports everyone should be checking regularly on Google Analytics, regardless of their level of experience with this tool;
Audience > Mobile – Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic: Find out if your website is more popular among desktop or mobile users
We live in the age of mobile phones so having your website optimized for this type of devices is imperative. It is also good to check the bounce rate. if it’s high for mobile devices, it means you need to optimize your website better. A growing number of mobile visits indicates that your website is mobile-friendly. This is especially important since in the late 2016 Google announced they are now simulating mobile user experience when crawling websites to determine where to rank them in the search results.
Audience Behavior – New vs. Returning Visitors: How engaged with your website are your visitors?
An increasing number of new visitors is great! It means your business is becoming more interesting to new people and that your brand reach is getting bigger. An increase in the number of returning visitors can be even better as it means that your visitors are interested enough in what you have to offer to come back.
But why is this important? Returning visitors are more engaged with your content and therefore more likely to take actions on your website, may it be filling out a form, registering for your newsletter or making purchases.
Bounce Rate: or the power of a good landing page
As mentioned before in this article, it is important to know what keeps your users engaged and what sends them away from your website so that you can optimize those pages. We recommend you find out which are your best landing pages and which ones contribute to high bounce rate. When you have the info, it’s time to focus on how to improve those pages and make them more engaging, for example by adding more targeted content, images or even a call to action, depending on what the page is about. A catered landing page will increase your chances of engagement.
Traffic Acquisition: how do visitors find you?
It’s important to know which channels bring more visitors to your website. When you are analyzing, be sure to check how your traffic compares to the dates the year before as it will show how your website improved during that specific period. This report is especially helpful if your website’s traffic is low. It will show you which channels changed and need your attention.
Conversion Goals: overview
The number of goal completions is one of the most important things to track on a daily basis and to compare across bigger periods, like in weekly and monthly reports. The Goals report in Google Analytics tracks specific interactions you predefined, like signing up for newsletters, form submissions, downloads, purchases, etc. Be sure to compare goal completions to previous years to find trends in performances so that you know what to expect in the future.
Most likely, you are already tracking these events with another tool. However, here you can compare their performance to the general traffic on your website.
In the Discovery tab, Google provides you with useful information on how to use Google Analytics and how to improve your experience. You can find the Help Center, the app for your phone, Add-ons and many other things. Use them to keep discovering the best practices and user generated content from real people like you. We would also like to point out a very useful tool: Analytics Academy. In the Analytics Academy you can find many online free courses that will take your analytical skills one step further! As time goes on, you can also find more advanced courses in the same place.
But by now, you should be ready to start mastering the art of online data analysis!
Do you have any custom report that you find the most useful? Which dimensions/metrics do you usually compare the most? Let us know.