Google Analytics is a tool that can transform your website, and therefore your business. But very few people understand how to use it to its full potential. When used correctly, it can be used to track the efficiency of online campaigns and can help to give some clarity in the ever-changing and complex world of web marketing.
It is this kind of accurate information and reporting that can make the difference between successful campaigns and wasting a whole lot of time. Whether you are a big business with a large team of staff or a small start-up with just a few employees, if used effectively Google Analytics can make all the difference.
Setting up your account
Go to the Google Analytics home page and click to create a new account in the Account column. Type in your account name and then paste the url of your website in the relevant box. There are also options for you to select your industry and time zone. Use the Data Sharing Settings to select which of your information you want to share with Google, then add your Google Tracking ID to your WordPress site via a plugin.
Understanding audience overview
This is the first screen that you will see on the dashboard once your account is set up. It presents the number of sessions – visits to your site – over specific time periods. There is also information about the number of page views, duration and more.
You can also glean information from these visitors about their interests, location, behaviour and what kind of technology platform they are using.
This is perhaps the simplest yet most useful statistic Google Analytics can give you. It is the number of times the page is loaded, although this does not mean that each load is an individual user. People refresh pages or make multiple visits to the same site over time. But a more detailed breakdown is available in the Behaviour section of Site Content and All Pages. You can also find out which pages are the ones from which people are most likely to leave your site, which can flag up issues with content and function.
This is how you can find out how users find your site in the first place. This is usually in one of four ways: organic search, referral, social or direct. The information can be found on the Google Analytics dashboard under the Reporting tab. Finding out how visitors arrived at your site is key to understanding which of your marketing strategies is working. You can also see how links are performing and where traffic is being driven from.
Once you understand how visitors arrived at your site, the next step is working out what they do when they get there. Each visit is a browser session that ends either when they navigate away from your site or leave it idle for more than half an hour. Google Analytics will show you the visitor numbers and how many visits they have made to your site. It also helps you determine the difference between the number of people who have looked at your site and the number of visits they make.
This is a Google Analytics tool that lets you see how visitors are using your site and what pathways they are following to get around. The data tells you what country the visitors are coming from, which pages they start on and their interactions thereafter. You can change the information displayed to focus more on certain areas than others. For example, you can see what browsers they are using, more specific geographical information and the keyword that brought them to your site. This way you can get an idea of how visitors are flowing in and out of your site.
Eventually, every visitor will leave your site. But understanding how and from where this is happening can help you to keep them there for a little longer. This data is called the bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high then it might pay to know what keywords are bringing visitors in.
If keywords are not entirely relevant, then your bounce rate is going to be high as visitors are not finding what they are looking for. You can find the keywords in Acquisition and All Traffic. Click on Organic Search to see a list of the keywords being used to arrive at your site. The higher the bounce rate for each keyword, the more they need to be re-evaluated. This could mean that your content is not engaging or relevant enough or that you are being hit with malicious attacks such as spam.
One of the best features of Google Analytics is that it lets you create goals and work towards them, helping you to focus your attention and make visible improvements to your site. Go to Conversions, then Goals and then Overview to set up your targets. These can be based on revenue, engagement, social media sharing and more.
The reporting for all your set goals will show up in the dashboard, letting you keep a close eye on what is going on. You should track these goals and this will also help you to monitor which pages are working hardest to help you get there. These are then features you can work to improve in other areas on your site.
As you can see, there is a lot that Google Analytics can help you to discover about your site. Spend a little time exploring its potential and you might find that it can significantly boost traffic and content engagement. Google Analytics is incredibly powerful if used in the right way, but all too often people fail to understand exactly what it can do for them. Create a personalised dashboard with clear set goals and reporting and you can keep an eye on the performance of your site without having to delve deep into the data at regular intervals.