Whether you’re a new business or a well-established company, it’s important to stay curious and analytical when it comes to the performance of your website. To do this you need to gather data points from your site visitors to understand how your website is being used.
That means collecting data on the pages they visit, the actions they take and how they found your website in the first place!
But how can you possibly gather all this information?
The answer: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free data tracking resource from Google that gathers data from your website and allows you to track, compare and report on the findings. It’s a tool we use frequently when auditing websites to get an understanding of online performance and how the website contributes to the business.
Using Google Analytics’ user-friendly interface, you can get a wide range of data quickly – creating shareable reports in a click of a button. By analysing the data taken from your site, you are given an insight into what’s working for your website and what’s not.
Google Analytics separates its reports into five sections:
Understanding your audience is crucial when thinking about content creation. When it comes to audience data, Google Analytics gives you a comprehensive report on who is using your site and how they are interacting with it. In the Audience report you can find data on how many users have been on your site, how many of those users are new or returning users, the average session per user and the average page views per user.
Drilling down into this data can give you an understanding of how your content is being received. For example, if your pages per session are increasing this could indicate that your users are finding your content more engaging and relevant. If the number of new users is low, this could indicate you need to increase your SEO efforts to expand your audience reach.
In the Audience tab you can drill down further and look at your user flow which gives you an in-depth report of the path users take on your website. This could indicate which of your pages need improving if the drop-off number is high – especially on the likes of product and pricing pages!
The Acquisition tab shows you how your audience is accessing your site. It shows the percentage of your overall traffic that has come directly to your site, through organic search, through paid search and other referrers including social media channels.
Looking at these numbers can show you your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to attracting traffic. For example, if you’re undergoing a brand awareness campaign you may see the direct traffic increasing as more people learn about your business.
Not only can you see where people are coming to your website but you can also see how they are viewing it. Google Analytics shows how many people view your website on mobile or desktop. At this point it is always important to consider how your site will appear on mobile. With this report you can ensure your most mobile-used pages are responsive and optimised for mobile.
It will also allow you to understand which traffic channels provide quality traffic and which don’t. For example, if you are running some advertising that drives traffic with a 95% bounce rate then you have some work to do!
Metrics such as the most popular landing pages can indicate which content your audience finds most engaging, informative and relevant. The data here can help build a strong content strategy for all media channels.
The more valuable and relevant your content, the better your visibility will become on Google, therefore directing more new users your way. Conversely, the exit pages data can show you which pages possibly aren’t performing as well as they should be. High percentage exit pages could indicate irrelevant content or even broken or poorly structured pages in need of review.
Unless of course, they are thank you pages!
It’s important when looking at the performance of your website to create goals so you can assess your marketing efforts.
Through the Conversions tab you can set up goals to track desired actions on your website. These conversion goals can track things such as filling out a form, completing a purchase or showing a high-level engagement with your site.
In this report you can see a total abandonment metric which can indicate a poor user journey if the percentage is high.
Keeping an eye on these conversion rates gives you more transparency on your site performance and allow you to tweak things such as:
Reviewing these elements and others can help you improve the conversion rate on your site and therefore, leads, enquiries and purchases!
Google Analytics works in conjunction with Google Ads so if you have a Google Ads account an overview of your ads’ performance will be shown in the Acquisition tab (if you have linked Google Ads and Analytics).
Having this data in one place means it is easier to create shareable reports and get a more comprehensive view of how your campaigns are performing alongside your website. You can also see your bid adjustments, keywords and search queries here – which can help you make informed decisions on your paid advertising as well as your content strategy.
For example, looking at your search queries can help influence what keywords you bid on in Google Ads, and show where you can create or update content to optimise your SEO!
When using Google Analytics it’s important not just look at one report but to look at all the reports in conjunction with one another. Look at all the data together to put your findings into context. Google won’t analyse the data for you, which means you need to think critically about the data to gain an insight into the bigger picture of your website. Using Google Analytics is an ongoing exercise, and it’s important to look continually at your data to try to improve your website’s performance.
Without the know-how, Google Analytics can be a scary tool! It’s a minefield of data and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be easy to get lost.
One of the (very few) things Analytics can’t do is compare your online performance with your competitors (mainly because it’s a tool to review only your own site)!
We however, have the power to do that using other digital marketing tools.
If you’d like us to dig deep into how your competitors are using digital marketing and identify where your site is in comparison – request a free report!