Understanding Google Analytics (GA) allows you to track your success. This can be evaluating traffic, conversions, website interactions, or even determining where people are visiting your website from. This information is a powerful tool to win over new customers, and keep current ones crawling back.
In essence, the great power of GA comes with great responsibility.
And you may think you need a superhero to help you figure out GA, but this isnt true.
Here are the five must-know tips about GA:
1. KEY TERMS
PAGEVIEWS: total number of pages that visitors looked at.
Note: high page views combined with low time on page could mean people are feverishly searching but cant find what theyre looking for.
UNIQUE PAGEVIEW: pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session. In essence, if a page was viewed more than once.
So if you visit northstudio.com tomorrow and look at our homepage, team page, and our contact page, that would count as 3 page views.
If you went to the homepage, then team page, and then BACK to the homepage that would be 2 page views, 1 unique page view.
Lets keep going! Round 2!
ENTRANCES: the total number of visitors who entered your website on a specific page.
SESSIONS: a session is defined as a group of interactions one user takes within a given time frame on your website. Google Analytics defaults that time frame to 30 minutes. Meaning, if they enter the site from a keyword search, all of their actions are considered one session.
In this example, a user enters a website and navigates to two pages:
Enter ? PageA ? PageB ? Exit
You would see the following data for each page:
PageA: 1 Entrance, 1 Session, 1 Pageview
PageB: 0 Entrances, 0 Sessions, 1 Pageview
The user entered on PageA (which also gets counted as a pageview). The user then moved to PageB before leaving the site and ending the session.
If the first hit of the session is an event hit instead of a page hit, the session might look like this:
Enter ? Event 1 (associated with PageB via page parameter) ? PageA ? PageB ? Exit
You would see the following data associated with each page in your reports:
PageA: 1 Entrance, 0 Sessions, 1 Pageview
PageB: 0 Entrances, 1 Session, 1 Pageview
BOUNCE RATE: the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). Some pages, like blogs, have a high bounce rate because people are looking for specific information.
EXIT PERCENTAGE: counts the number of people who left your site after visiting this same page, but they could have been browsing other pages beforehand. This is more important to determine how people are interacting with your site.
2. IN-PAGE ANALYTICS
Go to the left-hand sidebar to Behaviour > In-Page Analytics.
You can enable to see them in GA, or download a Chrome Extension for your toolbar.
This shows you a LIVE assessment of how visitors interact with your site. See how many people are on your page at that very moment, where people are clicking, and the effectiveness of your call-to-action.
Show me the money!
To maximize your conversions, you need to set goals and assess if you are meeting them.
If you set up Goals within your Google Analytics you can see how many conversions your website has received (Goals > Overview) and what URLs converted (Goals > Goal URLs). You can also see the path that visitors took to complete the conversion (Goals > Reverse Goal Path).
You can see more specific information like the number of conversions made by visitors from California in the Audience > Geo > Location report.
4. GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
GA used to be the ultimate resource for SEO information, until two years ago when Google tightened its privacy restrictions and almost all keyword data shifted to not provided.
This is where the Search Console comes in. Although its a different set of data altogether, with its own limitations, its the best simple alternative you have.
In Google Analytics, you can connect your Google Search Console. Its really easy:
Once Search Console is set up, its useful for several things such as finding the Crawl Rate of your website, meaning if Google is having trouble crawling your pages or there are broken links (bad for SEO). BUT, for our purposes, we want to find the keywords people are using to find your site through Organic Search.
Go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics.
Queries tell us what keywords people are searching.
To better assess this juicy information, check the box beside:
CLICKS: the number of clicks from a Google search results page that landed the visitor on your website.
This is SIMILAR to Sessions in Google Analytics, but its not the same.
For example, if a user visited North Studio 5 times the first time through Google and the last 4 visits via bookmark or direct link through a marketing email, GA attributes all 5 sessions to Google. However, Google Search Console will only report 1 click.
IMPRESSIONS: your website gets one impression for each time a URL from your site shows up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
POSITION: indicates where your website sits on the SERP; for example, the first result would be shown as 1.0.
5. BEHAVIOR FLOW
This is a great indicator for understanding how visitors engage with your website.
Go to Behavior and then Behavior Flow on the left-hand sidebar.
The point of entry, which Google calls the Landing Page, is the first page your visitors see.
The Starting Page is the first page a visitor starts a session.
From there, we can see the 1st Interaction and 2nd Interaction of the visitor, which reveals the most popular site paths. This is important for analyzing conversions, drop offs, or user design.
URL: The page of the interaction.
SESSIONS: The amount of times this step was taken.
DROPOFFS: The amount of times this was the last interaction before a visitor left your website. This is similar to Bounce Rate, but since its not the first pageview, its not considered a bounce. It can be more specifically stated as an exit.
Drop offs are the things we want to avoid. They can indicate a design flaw or information that is not answering the visitors questions.
If you choose a specific bubble, lets say the first bubble under Landing Page that indicates the homepage (/), right-click and View only this segment to make it easier to see the path visitors are taking from the homepage.
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