The first question you might be asking yourself is “Why do I even need Google Analytics?” In short, you need this tool because it helps you understand your website’s/blog’s audience. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
From this powerful tool, you can get various information about your visitors and their behavior on your website, such as:
- How many people visit your website/blog?
- Where do your visitors live?
- What kind of websites were they browsing before they were taken to your website?
- Do they use mobile devices or desktops?
- What browser do they use?
- What content do they prefer?
- Which pages on your website are the most popular?
We all know that “knowledge is power” and this is still valid when it comes to your website or blog. Google Analytics can help you find out who your customers truly are and what they need from you.
We also know that for some people just the sound of “Google” and “Analytics” used together in the same sentence already sounds frightening. If you are one of those people, worry not “young Padawan”. We will give you some tips!
Let’s talk about the interface and some metrics.
Tip: If you don’t have your website/blog connected to Google Analytics yet, check here how to do it.
Know your way around analytics
To use Google Analytics to its full potential, it’s important to know your way around the interface. For that reason we will start by describing the tabs and what you can do in each one of them.
When you log in, the first thing you see is your homepage and it already shows you a lot of information. Google Analytics predefined for you a set of graphics for a given timeframe so you can get information organized from the very first moment. From here you can already generate reports. That’s how straightforward this tool is! We’ll help you get comfortable with it in no time.
In this tab, you can personalize the way you see data in Google Analytics. You can create custom dashboards to see the information you find more important at a glance, create custom reports with the data you truly want to analyze, find the reports you created in the past and create custom alerts asking Google to contact you whenever something important happens, such as when one of your metrics is not performing so well.
Here is where the real magic happens! We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detailed information you can find here, so we will break down some metrics for you later on. For now, you just need to know that here is where you can find everything about the people visiting your website.
- In the Real-Time tab you can see how your website is performing at the very moment you access Google Analytics;
- Open the Audience tab and Google will show you the characteristics of your visitors like their age, interests and so many more;
- Check the Acquisition tab to find out the details of their visit: where they came from, the performance of campaigns, etc.;
- On the Behavior tab you can see what your visitors do on your website: what pages they visit, how long they stay there, what page was used to reach your website, etc.;
- Last but not least, you can find the Conversions tab under which you can see data on the people who performed a specific goal (e.g., downloaded a file, registered on your website, signed up for a newsletter, purchased something, etc.).
In this tab, you can manage your account from top to bottom. If you have several websites, you can create several accounts and manage all of them using the same login. This feature will certainly save you time. In this panel you can also edit the language and type of email communication Analytics will send you.
Measuring with Google Analytics
To measure your site’s performance and to find out what to optimize, you first need to analyze metrics. We will break down a few of them to help you get started. After all, if you want to use the right tone to communicate with your audience, you better be sure who your audience is, right?
Users vs Sessions
At this moment, it is important to distinguish between these two concepts. One user can generate one or more sessions. This is because users are counted as the number of people accessing your website and sessions are counted as individual accesses to your webpage by all the users. As one person can access your website several times, the number of sessions is always higher than the number of users. Sessions are defined by minutes of inactivity (30 minutes by default) or by midnight, which means that a new session starts after the user is inactive for 30 minutes or when a new day starts.
Session Duration and Bounce Rate
Quality is better than quantity! In other words, the average amount of time a user spends on your website is more important than having a high number of views from people that won’t find what they were searching for on your website and will leave immediately.
A “bounce” happens any time someone visits your website and leaves without any interaction. By default, Google Analytics considers it an interaction if the visitor visited at least one more page.
This aspect is taken into account when bounce rate is measured. And what is a “good” bounce rate? It all comes down to the type of website you have. For example, blogs typically have higher bounce rates, as people read the articles and leave. And, if you think about it, it isn’t a bad thing at all because the visitor just did exactly what you expected. However, if you want them to perform a specific action on the website, such as to click a button, download a file/app or sign up for your newsletter, the bounce rate of these types of pages is something you should pay attention to.
By checking this metric, you can see which content makes your visitors engage more with your website or which pages make them leave sooner. This can help you find out what page structure works better for your users and, in combination with the Sessions and Session Time in specific pages, what content they prefer. Tailoring your website/blog to your users’ needs already seems easier, doesn’t it?
Demographics and Geo
With Google Analytics, you can find out the age and gender of your visitors. This can help you tailor the way you write and what you write about. For example, if you find out that the people visiting your website are mostly women aged between 18 and 25, you can adapt your language to current trends and target your content to their stage of life.
On the other hand, if you find out that many of your visitors are located somewhere else in the world and use a different language in their browser, it could be interesting to localize your website/blog to their native language and potentially enhance their engagement with your page.
Now that you know who is visiting your website, you can take another step and discover how they get to your website. Is it through your ads? Is your SEO so good that your ranking in search results is high? Do people interact with your newsletter or, for instance, are your Facebook followers super engaged?
- Organic: Here you can see the percentage of visitors that found your website/blog through searches on the search engines. If this number is high, it means that you are probably using the right keywords in your text. If not, it may help to look deeper and perform keyword research;
- Paid Search: If you have ads, here you can see what percentage people clicking on your ads represent from the total amount of people visiting your website;
- Direct: This number represents the percentage of people that type your domain directly into the browser;
- Social: Shows how many people come to visit your website from your social network pages;
- Referral: Visitors that come to your website from other websites linking to yours. For example, if you own a shoe store and some blogger writes a post about a specific pair of shoes you sell and adds there a link to your online store, in this category you will be able to find all the people clicking on that link;
- E-mail: How many users interact with your newsletter and end up on your website?
- Display: If you have an ongoing Google Display Network campaign on Google Ads, here you can also track its performance;
- Others: Here you can find all the other user that Google couldn’t place in any of the previous categories.
With this data, you can easily see where you need to invest more or if you should take a step back from any of these channels. Let’s assume you are running a campaign on Google Ads and you are spending quite an amount of money, but you still don’t see any increase in the traffic leading to your website. It might be a good idea to pause the campaign while you perform deeper analysis and optimize it afterward.
Medium vs Source
These are important tools because they allow you to identify how people reach your website. The two concepts might seem very similar or even resemble the acquisition channels, but they are different, and together they provide more detailed information than the acquisition channels.
Medium is the type of traffic (organic, direct, video, etc.) and Source is where the traffic actually comes from (Google, Facebook, Bing, YouTube, Yahoo, etc.).
These metrics are especially helpful if you have ongoing PPC campaigns. You can check the percentage of traffic originated by them, compare the conversion rate of the traffic coming from your paid campaigns to the organic traffic, or even compare the behavior of users that come to your website through different mediums.
To sum up…
We showed you around the interface, talked you through some of the basic metrics and explained their meaning and importance for any website owner. Now take a look at your own Google Analytics account and check out all its interesting features. Don’t forget to let us know if you have any questions.
Make sure to read this step-by-step SEO guide.
Want to know more? In this next article, we will share some of our favorite reports that can move your data analysis even further. Stay tuned!