Google Analytics Reports You Should Be Paying Attention To

You have a website — great! — but are you tracking visitors and their behavior on your website? You should be, since having a website is sort of pointless unless you know how well it is or isn’t performing. Installing Google Analytics (free, by the way) on your website will give you more information than you ever though about your website visitors. But how do you make sense of the onslaught of data? There are a few specific reports you should focus on, and I’ll give you a brief run down of them here.

Traffic

Ah yes, the grand daddy of all numbers. How many people visited your site in the past month, the past week, day, or hour. You’d like to see that number as high as possible, right? Right. It would be obvious if that number is going down over any interval you know something is wrong.

But if it’s going up, there’s a little more you need to pay attention to. There are new visitors and repeat visitors. If your repeat visitors are high but new visitors count is not growing, then that tells you that there’s a nice tribe for your site but not much growth. If the opposite is true — more new visitors than repeat users — then great your site is growing in popularity but perhaps you need to focus on keeping those new visitors around.

Bounce Rate

This is tied directly to your traffic numbers. It’s great if your traffic, both repeat and new, is high or even growing. But if your bounce rate is in the double digits that’s bad. What it means is someone comes to your website, visits one page, then clicks away or closes their browser/tab without visiting any other page on your website.

You want your website to be engaging. Each page should serve a purpose to either inform, or take the visitor along a path to eventual conversion to be a prospect, customer, etc. If they’re visiting and not converting, then that will be reflected in the bounce rate and you should really be concentrating on tweaking the text or possibly the layout of your website.

Acquisition

So you have a ton of new and repeating visitors. That is awesome. Do you know where they came from or how they got to your website? The Acquisition reports will shed some light on that question. Essentially, there are four types of visitor: Direct, Organic, Referral, and Social. Google Analytics has ways of finding out where your traffic is coming from. Sneaky, I know.

Direct visitors mean the number of people that type in your website’s address (i.e. six15.com) into their browser. So these people are directly going to your site from the get-go.

Organic visitors refer to people coming to your website from a result of searching. Obviously your search engine ranking will play a huge part in this number. The higher your ranking in searches, the more likely someone will click over to your site from those results.

Referral visitors is counting the number of visits to your website from other (not search) websites. So if your company blog was mentioned in another website and they were nice enough to link to your site, someone who clicked that link to go your website counts here. Referring sites also plays into search engine ranking, so it pays to be a good Internet citizen and link to other sites, thereby having other people link to you.

Social visitors should be obvious — the number of people going to your website from social websites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you’re running campaigns on social media outlets this is a number you’ll want to pay attention to.

Top Pages

This will tell you which pages are performing better than others. If you’re focusing effort on one section or page of your site and see that it’s being out-visited by another section, you know something is wrong. This number will give you an idea of what your audience “likes” on your website, regardless of what you think they like.

Conversions

So the point of your website is to inform, or to sell, or to get that sign-up or download. If your numbers are high for visitors, even if you know where they’re coming from, how can you tell if people respond better to your website from search engines compared to Facebook? The Conversion by Source report has that data for you.

Say you’re running a social media campaign on both Facebook and Twitter, with the end goal of having someone visit your site and filling out a form to download a white paper. This report will detail not only how many people visited that page and actually filled out the form, but also where they came from, providing you that valuable information on which social media site performed better for that particular campaign.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool that provides a ton of information about your website and it’s visitors. This has just scratched the surface on what reports are available to you, and in fact each one mentioned here has more detail than I explained.

It makes good sense to check your analytics reports at least once a month to see how well your website is performing compared to your goals and expectations.

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