Google Analytics needn’t be complicated, but many websites aren’t fully utilising it’s potential out of lack of knowledge of how to implement it and then how to read it. There is much information to be gained from Analytics but here we will go over how to set up Analytics and a basic report you can use to measure the success of your website.
More in this series:
Using the Acquisition Report
Using the Behaviour Report
How to Set Up Google Analytics
To get started you will need a Google account. Most people have one already, but if you don’t go to Google and sign up for free in seconds. Now you can go to analytics.google.com to sign up. Fill out the fields as required, select from Data Sharing Settings, and click Get Tracking ID. Select your country and read and accept your country’s terms of agreement. Congratulations, you now have a Tracking ID for Google Analytics! Copy the Global Site Tag and paste into your websites header code. Read how to do that here or just install this plugin (it’s free and easy!).
You can test you’ve inserted the code correctly by returning to Analytics and clicking Admin in the bottom left sidebar. Under Property (the middle column) select Tracking Code and you’ll see an option to send Test Traffic. If you’ve inserted the code correctly, you should see the words: “1 active users right now (including 1 from test traffic)”.
Now that you’ve got Analytics up and running, let it go for a few days, let it gather as much data as you want or need. You want a good sample size to be able to properly analyse the data, so I recommend leaving it alone for at least a month. In this time, make sure you’re taking steps to drive traffic to your website as per your marketing plan. Once you’ve got enough data, we can run some simple reports to find out who your audience is and where they’re coming from.
How to Use Audience Overview in Google Analytics
Back in Analytics, let’s first take a look at the Audience Overview by clicking on Audience in the left sidebar and then Overview. The Audience Overview gives you brief insight into who your audience is and what they’re doing on your website. You can select your date range by clicking on the dates in the top right, and take a look at your overview by Hour, Day, Week or Month. This graph shows the number of hits your website received over this period and you can hover over any part of the graph to get exact numbers for any hour, day, week etc. Below you’ve got a pie chart showing new vs returning visitors - your unique business strategy will determine what ratio you want to see. This client’s website is focussed on creating new business with the expectation that existing business will need to visit the website less often. Therefore this high ratio of new visitors is a good thing. Popular bloggers may see a more even split, or even a tilt towards returning visitors - this is because blog audiences tend to be pretty loyal, kind of like a friendship. Of course, any website though should have a strategy for attracting new business, so watching this stat is a good idea!
Easily compare your websites performance to previous months, periods and years by clicking on the date range and selecting "compare to". Identify any growth points and evaluate the long term effectiveness of your digital marketing campaign!
We’ve also got the stats for the total number of Users and Sessions (number of times those users uniquely visited the website) and number of Page Views. When we’re looking at Pages per Session and Average Session Duration, a higher number is indicative of relevant content that is of interest to your users. If your number is low, it may be time to take a look at the way you push traffic through your website. Are all pages easy to access? Is your similar content visibly linked in some way? This is why I link to similar content at the bottom of my posts, to encourage my readers to stay on my site for longer!
And finally the Bounce Rate. Your bounce rate is the percentage of how many Users visited a page and took no further action. They didn’t linger, they didn’t click anything or travel to another part of the website. Either they got to your website by accident or they simply did not find what they wanted there. Either way, having a high bounce rate is not ideal because it shows your website isn’t relevant to the people that are finding it. Although there are no hard and fast rules, a bounce rate around 50% is considered about average.
If you're finding a bounce rate significantly higher than this, it may be time to revisit your content strategy. If your website is only new, don't panic right now but try to make sure it comes down over the coming months by constantly updating with fresh and interesting content!
Below this we have a brief look at your audience demographics. This can be useful in ensuring you're reaching the countries and languages you've chosen to target. For bloggers, most sponsors will want to know what region most of your traffic comes from. There's no point sponsoring you as a UK company if your audience is mostly from the US! This may help you target your business development strategy. For businesses, knowing where your audience is located can also highlight future business and marketing opportunities.
Switch between language, country and city by clicking on the options at the left. You may also be interested to know what operating system your audience uses, or even what browser. Perhaps you want to make an app but don't know whether to start on Android or iOS? Or maybe you have more visitors who still use Internet Explorer for some reason and you haven't optimised your website for that browser!
Throughout your travels on Google Analytics you will probably notice the words "(not set)" in quite a few places. Unfortunately this is the number of visitors that Google wasn't able to capture data on! The reason for this will vary depending on the report. In the case of geographic location, Google Analytics was unable to match the visitors IP address with a location. In this particular case, there is no action we are able to take to rectify. Read more about "(not set)" here.
So I hope by now you're feeling a little bit more comfortable with finding basic information in Google Analytics. Next week we’ll take a look at how to find out where your users are coming from and what that’s doing to your bounce rate! Head to that post now!
In any case, Google Analytics can't be broken! Be brave, take some time to explore and analyse what the data may mean. A lot of it is open to interpretation, and the data is as shallow or deep as you need it to be.
And as always, please get in touch for more information about how I can help you with your digital marketing campaign!
Cheers, Laura x
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