It’s a no brainer that every business should have Google Analytics set up on their website. This really should be done when the website is built. (Note: if you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your site, do it now). I highly recommend this to every business owner I speak to because Google Analytics will start to collect information about the sessions on your website. When you are ready to look at the data, you have it there ready and waiting for you to analyse and optimise.
There are A LOT of features in Google Analytics and it can seem very overwhelming. So I’m going to break it down the most important metrics that can help you improve your sales and online conversion rates.
Audience is the first main heading in your Google Analytics account. You will see this from the left hand side menu.
In the overview you will get an idea of how many visitors you received, how many sessions and the bounce rates. Simply looking at this data is enough for now to give you a basic picture of the traffic to your site. Visitor numbers vary between sites – depending on industry, SEO Rankings, paid search or social traffic, so there’s no ideal benchmark for this number. It will come down to you measuring your traffic and its growth over time. Set some goals on visitor numbers and that can help you track if you are performing well.
Bounce rate is something you want to look at though. Some people might consider a 80% bounce rate high, others might consider a 20% bounce rate high. Again there is no set rule as to what it can be. It will highly depend on the landing pages on your site. If they land on a sales page with little options to click elsewhere, then bounce rates will be higher than if there were multiple call to actions and possible clicks available to them.
If your bounce rate is high, you can look at the average session duration to make sure that people are at least consuming the content before they bounce. If your average session duration is low, then you might have an issue with the content on the page, the user experience or perhaps the traffic is irrelevant.
Visitors: unique visitors who visited your site in the given time frame
Sessions: how many sessions you had by your visitors. You might have one visitor that had multiple sessions, this is why sessions is normally a lot higher than visitors.
Bounce rate: the percentage of people who landed on your website, then left without clicking links or taking action.
Demographics and interest reporting
You want this feature enabled. For most businesses it is disabled as a default. Make sure you enable it. Demographics and interest reporting gives you a breakdown of your audience. As you know, Google tracks a lot of information. When people browse the internet, Google starts to classify them according to in-market segments and affinity categories. How is this useful? It can paint a picture of the type of people coming to your site, giving you insight into their interests and what they are looking to purchase. You can use this information to help create campaigns that will be more attractive, and adapt your sales language to be more in line with their interests.
In-Market Segment: people who are actively looking for and comparing products and services in this segment
Affinity Audience: people with an overall interest, passion or lifestyle in this area
Geo is really important because it shows you where your audience is. You might have a lot of traffic, however if it’s not from the right geographic location then it’s no use to you. This will indicate where you might need to focus or adjust your marketing efforts.
Mobile, mobile and mobile! Each day consumers are more and more likely to be browsing the internet on mobile. However, that being said, you are able to break down and view your sessions by device and look at the behaviour patterns across each device. Most of your traffic might be coming from mobile, however consider your conversion rate across each. Sometimes desktop and even tablet traffic might surprise you with strong conversion rates – a lot higher than mobile.
What can you do? Make sure your user experience is consistent across devices, consider remarketing on devices most likely to convert, and above all else, make sure your site is mobile friendly!
Acquisition is all about where you traffic has come from.
Under the overview, you will be able to get a glance at each source of traffic. You should see a pie chart which indicates the portion of traffic you are receiving from each source. This overview will also provide simple metrics below the pie chart including bounce rates and conversion rates.
This is where you and start to dive a little deeper into your marketing campaigns and strategies. Which source of traffic is the highest for you? Which is the lowest? What opportunities are there to improve this?
Direct – traffic that landed directly on your website from their browser. This also includes ‘dark social’ shares – for example, when a URL is shared via text message.
Social – traffic that comes from social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This can include your own profiles but also if another user on the platform shares your content.
Organic – traffic that comes from organic Google search
Referral – traffic that comes from another website.
Paid – traffic that comes from Google Ads Search campaigns
Display – traffic that comes from the Google Display Network (also through Google Ads)
Google Search Console is the Google Ads for SEO. It shows you what search queries you rank for organically. You need to set it up separately to Google Analytics, and I recommend you do this as soon as possible so you start to collect the data. Once you have search console you want to integrate it with Google Analytics so that you can see the key metrics from within the one place.
Use the Queries page to have a look at what you show for organically. It’s a good idea to sort by impressions (search volume), clicks (actual traffic to site) as well as position. Position 1-10 is page 1, position 11-20 is page 2 and so on.
You can identify opportunities to optimise landing pages to better suit search queries that you rank well for, or you might notice a distinct lack of queries you do want to be appearing for. This could be the prompt you need to start thinking a little more about your SEO strategy.
Behaviour delves even more deeper into what is happening when people are on your site. This is a really intricate piece of the Google Analytics puzzle and there’s a lot you can learn from it.
Behaviour flow shows you the journey people take once they land on your website. Towards the left of the screen you have the landing pages. As you move towards to the right you can see the next pages people go to, and the drop offs at each point. This is useful to identify the most common pathways people take when landing on your site, as well as where they drop off.
Landing pages and exit pages
Landing pages show you the pages people landed on. This could be from paid advertising, social shares and referral traffic. Take a look at the pages and make sure they are clear, functioning well and also have a call to action.
Exit pages show you the pages that people left your site from. All sites will have exit pages, so don’t get too caught up in the fact you have them! Pay attention to pages that you wouldn’t expect to see people dropping off, for example a checkout page. If you have this issue, have a look at those pages and see if there’s anyway you could keep the user on the page. Look for potential reasons why they might be dropping off, and potentially ask a third-party to give their unbiased opinion. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is all you need.
Page speed and speed suggestions
Page speed is becoming more and more important with the usage of mobile, and the fast-paced nature of society in which we live. If your site is too slow, people will most likely drop off completely. Your bounce rate will be affected. It dampens the user experience. Having a fast site is really important to keeping your users happy, and achieving your goals.
Have a look at your page speed, get an idea of what the average load time is. Most users want a site that loads within 3 seconds or less, however the average is a lot higher. Also your speed can vary between mobile and desktop too – so make sure you are checking both.
Go to your Page Speed Suggestions and have a look at what Google recommends. These changes can really help improve your speed and user experience.
This is really interesting to see what people are searching for when they are on your site. The search queries will show you what things people are interested in when they are on your site. It might highlight an issue with people being able to find information easily, as well as indicate if you have the right visitors on the site. Are they searching for things that are relevant to your product or service? Are they looking for important content that needs to be more readily accessible on the site?
Conversions are where you get to measure the performance of the website.
If you get anything out of this blog post, let it be this: you need to set up goals for your website!
Goals are defined actions or outcomes that occur on the website. You define what the goal is.
A goal can be as simple as a visit to a certain page or can be as complex as an event occurring like a link click. You need to define goals that make sense to your website and business model. Be wary of setting up too many low value goals, your website conversion rate will be skewed.
Here are some common examples of goals that we use for our clients
- Thank you pages after someone fills in an enquiry form
- Checkout success pages after a purchase has been made on an e-commerce website
- Form submit events on forms that do not go to a landing page
- Link click events on URLs throughout the site – most commonly on clickable email addresses or telephone numbers
- Button click events on buttons throughout the site if the destination URL goes to a third-party site
Note: you will need more advanced tracking for the last three goals using Google Tag Manager
If you have an ecommerce website, it is highly recommended you also set up ecommerce tracking. Setting up ecommerce tracking is two-fold. You need to enable it in your Google Analytics settings, and you will need to install extra tracking on your website. Most ecommerce providers have plugins or apps to help set this up for you.
Ecommerce is great because it will give more information for the ecommerce transactions. You will get visibility on average order value, popular products, your overall shopping funnel and more. If you are running Google Ads, these transactions can also be imported as conversions into your campaigns, so you’ll get to attribute revenue against spend.
Multi Channel Funnels
This is my favourite part of Google Analytics. It shows you how all your different marketing channels contribute to the completion of your goals.
Top conversion paths
When looking at this report, you can see which channels contributed to goal completions. I like this report because it shows you the most common paths that people took to convert.
For example, if someone found your site through a Google Ad on the first visit, then went to your site directly two days later and converted. In the top conversion paths, you will see that the Google Ad played an important role in that conversion, even though it didn’t directly result in that conversion on the first visit.
I think this is really interesting because some sites have really short conversion paths, others have really long conversion paths. Every site is unique and each path tells a story as to the journey a web visitor takes to convert. Having this knowledge can help with your overall digital marketing management as you might want to focus on improving channels that are contributing to your goal completions.
Assisted conversions is similar to conversion paths, however it shows the data a little differently. Assisted conversions shows you how many conversions that each channel ‘assisted’ in completing. This gives you the overall number, whereas in top conversion paths you might have pages and pages of different pathways. It gives you a high level look at how each channel is contributing. You can also extend the lookback window to give you a greater time frame, as some paths may happen over a longer period of time.
Time lag shows you how long it took from the first visit for a conversion to occur. In most cases you’ll see most conversions happen on the first visit and then tapers off as time goes on. This report is useful as you can also identify how many conversions happen after the first visit and whether a remarketing campaign might be beneficial to you (in most cases, yes it will be!).
There are a lot of reports and features within Google Analytics. In this blog post I’ve touched on some of the key metrics that I use for my day-to-day client management. These metrics will give you a good idea of how your website is performing, where its strong points and weak points are, and what you can adjust in your digital marketing plan to help improve things.
Make sure you have Google Analytics set up and set up goals as early as possible! This will ensure when you are ready to look at the data, you will have something meaningful to review. If you get stuck with reviewing your data, or just not sure what to do next, please get in touch with our team to see how we can help!