Google Analytics is the most widely used website analytics tool because of its wide array of powerful analytics tools and its relative simplicity. Everyone from small business owners to Fortune 500 companies can discover meaningful insights using Google Analytics and its multitude of features. Although advanced tracking tools can get convoluted, there is plenty of useful data a user can access without any advance setup beyond the initial account creation and tracking code inclusion on your website. This post focuses on a few of the most important “out of the box” Google Analytic features and how you can use them to start discovering actionable insights.
The Audience Overview Report is the default view in Google Analytics. To navigate to it go to Audience then Overview. This is where most beginners spend a majority of their time in Google Analytics. The report provides some great high level statistics about traffic to your site and the types of visitors.
Here are some helpful terms to know which will help you better understanding this report. Sessions are essentially the number of visits to your website (visitors who visit your site multiple times within a short period of time are counted as one session). Users are the number of unique individuals who have visited your website. Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who came to your site and left immediately.
The Audience Overview Report can be easily modified to incorporate custom date ranges by using the date selector in the upper right-hand corner. Look at data from last month, last year or even over the entire history of your account. Looking at different timeframes to spot trends and take actions based on those trends.
The Acquisition Channels Report can be found under Acquisition then Channels. This report provides a high level look at where your traffic is coming from (search engines, social, email, direct, etc.). Therefore this report is extremely beneficial when you are trying to make the case for continuing or increasing your investment in a specific channel.
Here are some terms to help you better understand this report. Direct sessions are visits from people who typed in your website address into the browser navigation bar. For example, if I typed in www.linkmedia360.com and navigated directly to our website rather than using a search engine or other channel. Referral sessions are visits driven by links to your website found on other sites. By clicking on Referral you can see the specific sites that people are coming from.
One of my personal favorite reports is the Behavior Site Content All Pages Report. You can navigate to this report by going to Behavior then Site Content and finally All Pages. This report provides valuable metrics for each page on your site and can be used to determine the effectiveness of your content or your most popular content. Using this report can help you justify the investment in additional pages of content similar to top performers or can help you understand where your time can be best spent updating your content.
One important term to know when looking at this report is Entrances. An Entrance is when a visitor enters your site on that specific page. High Entrance numbers may mean that people can easily find this page in search results or through links on other sites.
You can look at all your pages in a list or you can use the search bar just above the chart to the right. In the search bar, you can type in specific directories or even specific URLs to get a more granular look at the data. At Linkmedia 360, we often search for specific directories to get an idea of how one directory is performing compared to benchmarks and other directories.
Now it’s time for you to get your hands dirty and spend some time in your Google Analytics account. Don’t be afraid to click around, change some dates, and modify filters. You aren’t going to break anything! It’s time to pull some meaningful insights and blow your boss away with some data backed recommendations.
If you are looking to do something a little more advanced in Google Analytics, Linkmedia 360 can help. Contact us today to learn how.