Key Things To Look At In Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a fantastic free tool which allows you to improve your websites’ UX, optimise your conversion rate and boost your digital marketing efforts.

In this article, aimed at beginners I take you through some of the most basic metrics and dimensions to look for in Google Analytics. Measuring and analysing this data will allow you to make solid, data-led decisions which will allow your business to succeed. It is worth pointing out that the most important metrics and dimensions will differ from business to business, this article is meant only as an overview of some of the most basic.   

Number of visitors

This is a key metric which allows you to understand the general popularity of your site. But what is a good number of visitors? This is actually not a useful question to ask at all. If you are a major content site, a good number of visitors for your website will differ dramatically from a niche ecommerce website.

Instead, it is a good idea to compare your own number of visitors over to time. This will allow you to assess whether awareness campaigns are working and whether your website is increasing in popularity. This is really easy to do in Google Analytics, by clicking the ‘compare to’ box in the time frame at the top of the reports.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site without looking at any other pages. We often get asked what a good bounce rate is, but as with number of visitors, this is almost impossible to answer as it can differ so much from business to business. For example, a high bounce rate for a blog may not be such a bad thing. A visitor to your site might come from social media, read and enjoy a whole article and still be counted as a bounce. Although, there are ways for blogs of content sites to get around this, for example, triggering an event if a reader gets half way down the page. In general though, a bounce rate under 50% is fairly solid. Anything less than 10% is almost certainly indicative of a problem with your set up.

By assessing the bounce rate of your pages, it is possible to indicate if you have any UX problems on your site. For example if one particular page has a high bounce rate, it probably suggests it could do with some work.

Conversion rate

This metric is absolutely essential because it measures the overall health of your business and digital marketing campaigns. In order to access a conversion rate, it is first necessary to set up goals in your Google Gnalytics account. Simple goals are fairly easy to set up, or you could enlist the help of a Google Analytics consultant.

By looking at the conversion rate of each of your marketing campaigns, you can visualise which are performing and should potentially be increased and which could either do with some work or be dropped altogether.

Site content

It is a good idea to measure what people are looking at when they come to your site. This will help you assess which of your pages are performing and which are not. To measure this, take a look at which pages on your site get the most views and which people spend the longest time on.

It is also sensible to measure which pages people are landing on. This can easily be done in the landing pages report in the behaviour section of Google Analytics. This will allow you to understand which pages are bringing traffic to your site and which need to be optimised.

Traffic source

Another key Google Analytics metric is traffic source. This will give you an indication of where your users are coming from. Google Analytics records some information about traffic source by default, for example, social, direct, organic, and referral. However, by creating your own UTM parameters, using Google’s handy tool, you can gain far more information about where your users are coming from.

Understanding where your customers are coming from over time is the key to understanding which marketing channels to optimise and which to consider limiting or even abandoning. Comparing the conversion rates of various traffic sources can be a particularly effective way of assessing this.

Time on site

Another key metrics to consider is time on site. This will give you an indication of how your website is performing. As with other metrics, it is very difficult to state a good time on site as this can differ dramatically depending on the sites purpose.

It is usually assumed that a longer time on site is indicative of a healthy website. However, if someone is taking a long time on your ecommerce site because the checkout process is confusing, this is obviously not a good thing. In general however, assessing the time on site of your customers or users over time and depending on the changes you make can be a good way of understanding which of your actions and marketing activities are working.

It is worth noting that time on site is not always a particularly accurate metric. For example it does not take into account the time a user spends on the last page they visit, or if your site is just open in another tab. If you want a more accurate measure of time on site, Metric Mogul has created Attention Analytics, which gives a far more accurate measure of time on page/site.

To Conclude

By analysing your marketing efforts and the strength of your website, you will gain actionable insights to help your business succeed. Above are just a few of the things that you should be looking at in Google Analytics to push you in the right direction to becoming a fully data- driven business.

Ed Brocklebank (aka Metric Mogul) is an analytics and digital marketing consultant. He helps business of all sizes become more data-driven through measurement, strategy and activation. He works as a Strategic Analytics Director at Jellyfish in London, as well as delivering training on behalf of Google and formerly General Assembly.