Google Analytics is a tool that can track and report what’s happening on your website. It has several features that allow you to better understand who your site users are, what content they are consuming and how they found your website. This data will help you understand what is working, how to increase user engagement, improve the content and maintain or gain search engine optimization rankings.
Who are your site users?
To find out more about your audience, look closely at the number of sessions, page views, session duration, if your visitors are new or returning, where they are located and what type of devices they are using to view your website.
To get an overview of your audience go to the Audience tab on the menu and then to Overview. This is where you can get a better idea of who your audience is and their behavior. Under the Overview, you will find helpful metrics for a set timeframe, such as the number of sessions, users, page views and more.
To find out whether they are a new or returning user, go to Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returning.
A new user is one visiting your website for the first time on the device they’re using. A returning user is as simple as it sounds, they’re coming back to view your website on that device again. Unfortunately, when a user clears their browsing history, Google may count them as a new user instead of returning the user to your site.
If you want to know what device your visitor is using, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview. This will show what specific device they are using and new sessions and users.
If you want to know the location of your visitors, go to Audience > Geo > Location. For one website I manage, EE World Online, most of our users are located in the United States, India and the United Kingdom. I find this information useful when targeting ads, and you might too!
What are users doing on your site?
If you want to analyze the behavior of your site visitors, it’s important to pay close attention to your site content, average time users spend on your page, what your users are searching for on your site, exit pages and bounce rate.
If you’d like to see what type of content is most popular on your website, the Behavior section of your menu will be your new best friend. To start, go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages. On this page, you will find the number of page views, the average time a user spent viewing your page, the rate at which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server, and the last page accessed during a visit. An easier way to view this data is by switching the page URL view to page title view.
Another helpful analytic tool is Behavior flow. This is located under Behavior > Behavior Flow. This report is essentially an infographic that shows how many people are on your site, where they move as they navigate from page to page and the page where they leave your site. This report shows the most popular path through your website and can help you reorganize and prioritize your website.
Knowing which pages perform best gives you a better idea of where to focus promotional efforts, and which pages you may be able to hyperlink when trying to boost traffic on another.
To find what pages most users commonly leave from, go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. This shows where users leave your site after they start their session. Marketers can this data to highlight which pages users are leaving from how to increase the chances of conversion.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages on your website. A high bounce rate can indicate that the landing pages aren’t relevant to your visitors or that users are not finding what they are looking for on your site and choose not to view anything else.
Site Search shows what users are searching for on your website. This is located under Behavior > Site Search > Overview. This will help you identify search terms and popular keywords that are being searched for on your website.
Real Time offers many valuable metrics, such as the number of users on your site at the very moment, what page they’re on, the top referrals and more. These metrics are valuable when planning future content.
How do users find your site?
Google Analytics allows marketers to understand exactly how your customers find your website. Not only is that exciting, but it’s incredibly important to digital marketing. To gain the most insight from your data, it’s necessary to understand how Google sorts traffic to your site. Channels in Google Analytics are categories indicating how users found your site.
Channels are housed under Acquisition > Overview. The default channels are:
Direct: Indicates visits where users navigated directly to the URL or the source of the visit
Organic Search: Indicates visits from organic (unpaid) search results
Social: Indicates visits from social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
E-mail: Indicates traffic from links clicked in email messages, whether it’s an e-newsletter or e-blast
Referral: Indicates traffic where users clicked a link from another site
Another incredibly important tool is Google Analytics Search Console and Queries. This is located under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. This tool gives you an overview of how your website is performing in Google’s organic search results. It also provides a list of every keyword people searched for to get to your website. This helps you understand exactly what your audience is searching for and whether they find it or not.
All of these channels will help you compare the performance of your types of marketing efforts and give you a better understanding of how users find your site.
To summarize, Google Analytics allows you to track many important metrics. This tool helps marketers monitor the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies, content, user experience and device functionality. Google analytics can help you find out what is working and what is not. When you can identify a problem, you can work towards a solution.