Google Analytics is one of the most powerful web analytics application freely available to anyone who wants to track their website traffic. Today I’m going to show you everything you need to know to get started with your own site analytics. This guide is aimed at users who may not be familiar in using Google Analytics. We will highlight the features that we think will help you drive sales and leads to your sites.
So why use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a powerful application for tracking traffic patterns on your website. The fact that it is an entirely free application that integrates with other useful Google applications seamlessly, such as Adwords, Webmaster Tools and Adsense makes this a great application from the get go. Analytics makes it very useful in tracking conversions of your products or services to see what works and what doesn’t on your site. Google Analytics for ecommerce conversion tracking is one of the best features to measure how well each individual product is doing and determine how users are behaving on specific pages. There are so many reasons why this is great for your site, anybody can use their analytics, but only a few can truly take advantage of the vital pieces of information that Google Analytics gives, here’s how…
Getting started with Analytics
Firstly, If you haven’t yet signed up for a Google Analytics account, visit the Google Analytics website and follow the instructions to sign up for your new account. The next step is that you will be prompted to include an analytics tracking code ID into your website for Google to collect and send data to your Analytics account, to set up web or mobile tracking you need to copy and paste a code snippet before the ‘‘ tag in your main landing page. Your webmaster will easily be able to set this up for you. All you have to do then is verify the tracking code is correct on you site and hey presto, your analytics are ready to go.
The Basic Interface
When you access the report for the first time, you’ll be brought to a dashboard where you can see the general overview screen. The navigation on the left provides you with your standard reports such as Behaviour, Acquisitions (previously called Traffic Sources) and Conversions. Google has recently announced ‘Acquisitions’ which provides better flow of metrics for users to conduct robust testing on their sites. This has recently replaced Traffic Sources in the navigation. In the top right of the dashboard you will see a date range, you will be able to view your analytics in any date range using the drop-down to change the date on the graph, your analytics will automatically be updated to your selected date range. You can even compare your analytics with the previous month, which is useful when identifying overall improvements in percentages such as the percentage of visits compared to last month. The main navigation at the top of the screen includes ‘Reporting’ (that is what you are currently viewing) and ‘Custom Reports’, which you can decide on what metrics you want to be viewed in your report, there is also an Admin section, here you can set things such as goals, and tracking codes.
It can be difficult to take all the information from your analytics and put it to good use. We are going to start off highlighting what we think are the most important reports for you to get the ball rolling with your analytics.
Real Time Analytics
Google Analytics allows you to monitor your visitor activity in real time. You are able to see how many people are currently on the site, their geographical locations, the traffic sources that referred them to the site and the pages they are viewing. This can be very effective if you want to monitor the changes, or even things like promotions and lead generation to see how well they are driving traffic to your site.
The ‘Audience’ overview screen gives you a breakdown of the number of visitors, page views and unique visitors, along with the average time on your site, average pages to visit ratio and bounce rate. Google makes it very easy to see how useful visitors are finding the site at a glance. You can delve deeper into your audience analytics by viewing your visitors demographics, language, country, city, internet browser, service provider and screen resolution. This detailed information about your users is very valuable for a marketing and usability standpoint, you will be able to use this information to make the site work well for users, as well as seeing exactly where visitors drop off your site (Visitor Flow).
The ‘Behaviour’ section gives you more information regarding your new visitors and how frequently they are returning to your site. Looking at how frequent your visitors return to your site can help you determine how many fans you have for promoting new products. Google Analytics also has a ‘Behaviour Flow’ that merges visitor and event flow reports. It is important to track visitor behaviour and set goals (see Conversions). You can also track your speed performance of your site, as well as what specific products your visitors are searching for if you have an ecommerce site using the ‘Site Speed’ and ‘Site Search’ drop-downs.
The overview of the ‘Acquisitions’ section provides you with the view of how well your site is operating and how potential customers are converting and engaging with your site. The key metrics in this section are your bounce rates and goal conversion rate. You can also identify where your organic, direct and social search traffic is coming from. It is important for you to diversify your traffic acquisition strategy, and to get traffic coming in from different sources, this is where the analytics come into play. Understanding your overall performance on the site can help you determine what things are working, alternatively, the analytics can also show what things are under-performing so that you can make the necessary changes. If you have your Webmaster Tools tied with your Google Analytics account, you can also use Search Engine Optimisation reports to prioritise efforts to increase the number of visitors to your site by looking at data such as your impressions, clicks, average ranking position in Google and your Click Through Rate (CTR).
Your Conversion analytics allows you to identify when a visitor has successfully completed an activity on your site, such as a purchase or a sign-up for a newsletter. There are two main metrics when looking at conversions, Goal Conversions and Ecommerce Conversions. Goal Conversions are defined and tracked by setting a desired action for Google to monitor the amount of completed goals. Multiple goals can be set to measure individual page conversions from tracking articles on your blog, to how many orders and newsletter sign-ups you are getting each month. There are also Ecommerce Conversions that analyse the effectiveness of products, if you have an online ecommerce store, this would be very useful, it collects information for each product purchased on your site and lets you see the different values of traffic such as the referral, the ecommerce product and sales performance, the number of transactions, the time of purchase and many other metrics.
We hope that this has been insightful in the understanding of each report section in Google Analytics. Hopefully you are closer to extracting meaningful data from your analytics and using it to drive leads and sales to your websites. If you’re having problems tracking your own traffic and SEO, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us or download our free ‘7 Steps for Ranking on Google’ e-book.