If you have ever wondered what Google Analytics is (I hope not!), or have it installed your website, but have yet to do anything with it, then read on – this post if for you.
In this blog, we’re going to revisit Google Analytics from a totally fresh point of view. We’ll look at why you need Analytics, how to install it, and how to get started. And we’ll share with you a great dashboard FREE, that we’ve created to capture the 10 key site metrics you’ll need to track your own website’s visitors. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the article.
Why your website needs Google Analytics
Your site needs Google Analytics, its free and it’s a great marketing tool. By spending half an hour setting it up and downloading our dashboard you will get a great picture of:
- How many people visit your website
- What countries these visitors are accessing your site from
- What other websites send traffic to your website
- Which social media channels are the most productive
- Which of your marketing activities drive the most traffic to your website
- Whether your audience is visiting from mobile devices or desktops
- Which web pages are the most popular to visitors
- What content your visitors linger on the most
- Which content is not so popular
- The journey your visitors take through the site
- Your website’s page load speed
- How your visitors are converting
And this is only scratching the surface, when you delve into it, Google Analytics offers a lot more, but these are the ones that are the most important for most website owners and to kick off with.
Installing Google Analytics on your website
To start you need a Google Analytics account. The best way of doing this is to create a Google Mail account – this will give you access to all the other Google services such as Adwords, Youtube and Search Console. Some of which are also useful.
This Google account should be one you plan to keep forever and that only you have access to. Later, you will be able to grant other people access to your Google Analytics, but initially you should have full control over it. Nor let your website designer, or SEO agency create an Analytics account for you under their own Google account.
Its best if you can create it yourself, or get them to set it up independently, because if at some stage you and this person will part ways, you might not be able to access your own Google Analytics data.
Set up your Analytics Account
Once you have set up a Google account, you need to add the tracking code onto every page of your website. This sounds daunting, but usually there is a feature in your CMS to do this; but if your not confident about doing this yourself, the website agency should be able to do this in 5 minutes.
With the tracking code in place, what do we look for? The top three things you should look at as you start with analytics are Visitors, Traffic Sources and Landing Pages.
It all starts with website visitors. You need to understand who is coming to your site, what pages they look at, how long they spend on each page before leaving or buying.
The Home Page on Google analytics gives you a quick and dirty look at some key data. We typically look at key four metrics in the Visitor Overview:
- Unique visitors
- Pages per visit
- Average time on site
- Bounce rate
But better to select Acquisition and then Visitor Overview. This offers a snapshot of visitor behaviour on your site.
We typically look at key four metrics in the Visitor Overview:
- The channels visitors are using to reach the site – from social media to email
- The daily bias of visitors over the week
- Pages per visit by channel
- Average time on site
- Bounce rate
If you select the other options from the Acquisition menu, you can look at this data from the Overview in greater granularity.
There is no quick answer to what bounce rates should be or how many pages users should see per visit. This depends on what it is that you are selling. All I would say is that if visitors are coming to your site and spending time on it and looking at several pages, it demonstrates interest and you should be thinking about how to ‘convert’ them along the way.
Study what happens to visitor numbers and behaviour when you execute a particular piece of marketing activity such as email marketing or advertising. Study bounce rates, have they jumped? Did you redesign some pages? Visitor analytics will give you insight into the effect of changes, so you can adjust accordingly.
Where your website traffic comes from is another important metric. ‘Channels’ will give you an overview of:
- Direct Traffic
- Organic Search
- Social Media
- Referral (from other websites)
- Email marketing
- Paid Search (such as Google Adwords)
‘Source/Medium’ will give you more detail within each of these.
These reports will give you insight into how people find your website. A good benchmark is to try and makes sure your traffic sources are balanced, so that if there is a change that affects traffic in one channel, the effect is diluted by the strength of the other channels. For example it is not good practice to focus on one channel such as paid search.
Landing Page Behaviour
Your landing page metrics are key to understanding whether the content you’re delivering matches the needs and expectations of the visitors to your site.
For example, if you are running paid search campaigns, it is important to understand how your pay per click traffic performs once it hits your landing pages. If they are bouncing straight off, then you are wasting money because the ad is promising more than the landing page delivers.
High bounce rates on paid search landing pages will also mean you pay more per click as it will affect your ‘quality score’.
But its important to monitor the behaviour of all your visitors, from all sources by landing page. Organic search traffic that results in a high bounce rate might mean that your keyword strategy is wrong and need attention.
The Importance of Regular Website Traffic Monitoring
A website should never be static. If you do not have a continuous content strategy, the site will be going backwards in rankings if it always stays the same. By studying these key metrics, you will have enough insight into what is going on with your site to be able to fine tune your offering to match the expectations of your visitors – you future customers.
Your FREE Google Analytics Report template
Open up your Analytics account and then cut and paste this URL into the browser window.