How many times have you opened your Google Analytics dashboard only to become flustered and confused by the numbers? You sit there asking yourself, “what does bounce rate mean, and is a 62% good?” Sometimes numbers are confusing, but of ALL the numbers you track (ie: followers, reach, etc) the numbers associated with your website are the most important!
But what does it all mean!? Why track these numbers? The answer is simple; the more you know about your site’s performance, the more capable you become in making informed content decisions that propel your success. Simply put, once you know what your audience likes, you can create a better experience for them! And we all want our visitors to enjoy their time on our site, right?
In an attempt to make this as painless as possible, I’ve created the following Google Analytics 101 guide. I suggest you start using Google Analytics by taking a look at these four sections in order to gain a better understanding of your audience. Here are the sections and here is what you should look for:
AUDIENCE OVERVIEW // This is the most basic report; it gives a very general outline of what happened on your site over a specified period of time.
• Sessions: This number tells you the total number of times your site was visited (within the specified time period). This number includes all visitor types (new + returning).
• Users: This is the total number of people that visited your site (within the specified time period).
• Pageviews: This number represents the total number of pages that were visited by users (within the specified time period). For example, you can see here 21,323 users looked at 56,490 pages (which means the average user looked at 2.36 pages – which is good because it shows they looked around).
• Avg. Session Duration: The average length of time a user remained on your site. Anything over 60 seconds is ideal!
• Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who land on your site and then leave after only looking at one page. As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26-40% is excellent (this means people find your site and continue to browse). 41-55% is average. 56-70% is higher than average, but should not cause alarm as it really depends on the content of the site. Anything over 70% might signal a need for a content re-write.
• % of New Sessions: The percentage of people who visit your site for the first time.
LOCATION // This report tells you where in the world your visitors are coming from (within the specified time period). You can drill down by country, province, and city by clicking the list below the map. Regardless of the nature of your business, it’s important to understand where your site visitors are coming from.
NEW VS. RETURNING // The percentage of people who visit your site for the first time (within the specified time period). This number is important to note because while you always want to be acquiring new visitors, it’s important to always be enticing visitors to return to your site.
ACQUISITION OVERVIEW // This report shows you where your site’s traffic is coming from (within the specified time period), and breaks it down into six categories: Social, Direct, Referral, Organic Search, Other and Email.
• Social: The number of click-throughs to your site from social media. If you click on “social” it will break the numbers out into all the individual networks (note: Instagram does not allow live-linking within posts, so it will not show here).
• Direct: The number of visitors who simply type your URL directly into their browser (or have your site bookmarked) and are taken to your site.
• Referral: Referrals are visitors that come to you from another site. If you click on “referral” it will show you the top referring sites.
• Organic Search: This report shows you some of the search terms people have used to find you via Google. (note: not all keywords that drive traffic to your site are listed here, as seen in the “not provided” section.)
• Email: This is the number or visitors that have come to your site after clicking a link within an email client.
• Other: If you are setting up UTM parameters for custom campaigns the numbers will appear in this section (<< a little too advanced for this 101 email!).
With this very basic understanding of Google Analytics and the goldmine of data it shows you, I hope you are able to understand your visitors and take a deeper look into their actions on your site. There is definitely a lot more to Google Analytics, but this 101 should get you started!
And for those of you who check everything from their mobile device (like me!), there is a handy Google Analytics app which you can download! It’s perfect for getting a snapshot while on the go!