Your Basic Guide to Google Analytics

Author: Marcus

Date: 23/06/15

Since its launch in November 2005, Google Analytics has been providing you data and statistics about the performance of your website. As someone who works in the field of SEO, PPC and digital marketing, it is a tool that is used everyday to analyse potential areas of improvement for a website and marketing campaign.

Recently however, it has become apparent that a number of our clients, despite having access to their Analytics data, either don’t check it or they don’t understand what they are looking at.

This is more than understandable when, from the surface, Google Analytics contains masses of numbers, graphs, pie charts, percentages etc. It is very easy to get lost in the data!

 

Your Google Analytics data

Because of the confusion associated with Google Analytics, this basic guide has been put together to help you analyse elements of your own website data and determine areas for improvement.

 1. Audience Overview

 google analytics screenshot

When you access your Google Analytics data, the audience overview is likely the first page you will see, and the imagery will resemble the above image.

As the name suggests, this is essentially giving you data about the users that have accessed your website.

 

Sessions

This tells you how many people have visited your website within the set time frame (default is previous 30 days).

What can this be used for – How does the number of site users compare to the amount of sales/conversions the business is making? Should a PPC/SEO campaign be run to increase the amount of site visitors?

Knowing the number of users on your website gives you an indication of how the website is appealing to your audience, and whether this audience is relevant and using your service.

 

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate indicates the percentage of users that are accessing your website, but not interacting with the webpage or leaving without exploring the rest of the website.

What can this be used for – If your bounce rate is particularly high (around 30-35% is average), perhaps the user experience on your website is poor and unappealing. A non-mobile-friendly website is a particular cause of increased bounce rate.

It could also indicate things such as high pricing, poor use of imagery and product descriptions, or a poor brand reputation.

 

  2. Acquisition Overview 

analytics acquisition overview

The acquisition overview page tells you how your website traffic is attained, and will resemble the image shown to the right.

You can attract users to your website through a number of different methods. The most common attractors are:

Organic search –

Users searching for your brand or a relevant keyword phrase in a search engine and clicking on your website’s link.

Direct –

Users typing in your URL

Social –

Traffic accessing your website through a link on a social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Referral –

Users accessing your website through a link on an external website

Alternative acquisition methods can include Pay Per Click and Email.

 

What can be determined from the Acquisition Overview?

- Are you running a current marketing campaign and is it working?

If you are running a social media marketing campaign with the objective of gaining more website traffic, the acquisition page will tell you exactly how much traffic is coming from the various social media platforms. It is an effective, simplistic way of measuring the results against the efforts you have made.

- Should you be focussing on a different aspect of marketing?

If the site traffic attained organically is particularly high, it could be down to your reputation or brand name. If this is the case, the organic traffic is likely to be maintained. This gives you the opportunity to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, such as pay per click or social media.

You can check what search terms are causing the organic traffic by clicking the ‘organic search’ link below the pie chart.

 

  3. Mobile Usage Overview

Whether your website is mobile-friendly or not, this page is beneficial to all website owners as it can influence the way you promote your site and it’s products/service. A recent blog explored whether a mobile friendly website was the most important marketing tool available. The answer was YES!

The mobile usage data can be found be found within the Audience navigation bar on the left:

mobile analytics data 

The mobile usage page will show a graph, followed by a similar table to the one below:

 analytics statistics on mobile

Simply, this table tells you which device users are accessing your website with; desktop, mobile or tablet.

 

How can the mobile usage page influence your website?

 1. Make your website responsive -

If your website is not mobile friendly, this page should provide all the evidence you need to upgrade it.

Mobile/tablet usage is increasing every year and, statically speaking, it makes up for about 50% of all internet use. The mobile usage page should support this statistic and indicate how many users are likely to be having a poor browsing experience on your website.

 2. User experience –

Paying particular attention to the bounce rate column and the avg. session duration column, assumptions can be made about your website’s performance on a mobile device.

With an unresponsive website, the bounce rate is likely to be high anyway. However, if your website is already mobile friendly, consider how it is used and what the user is trying to find. If you have a particularly popular category page or product page on your website, make sure it is simplistic to locate on the mobile version. This promotes a good user experience and will likely increase the conversion rate.

 3. Marketing – 

Due to the increase in mobile internet usage, elements of a marketing campaign can be optimised to target mobile traffic. 

As recently as April 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm, which decreased the rankings of websites on a mobile device that weren’t mobile friendly. Because of this, having a mobile friendly website became the number one marketing factor.

Using the data from the table above, the rankings for 4,400 people (45% of site traffic) would be lower.

 

Conclusion

Despite containing masses of information, Google Analytics isn’t a tool that beginners should be afraid of using. While it does have extremely technical features, this guide has highlighted some of the basic features that you can use to assess your own website and it’s performance, without delving into the complicated stuff.

If you have any questions about Google Analytics or the results you have found, get in touch today.

 

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