A Newbie's Guide to Google Analytics
When I first started at BigWheel, I was completely new to the analytics side of business and marketing. Sure I had an idea of what it was, but when I hear the term analytics, my mind immediately turns to sports. Cue the Moneyball reference. I was under the impression that anything analytical was used to increase efficiency and productivity. And I wasn’t completely wrong.
Google Analytics (GA) essentially measures the traffic a website receives. In fact, the official definition of GA is "A web service used to track and report a website's traffic." What that very broad definition doesn't explain is the extent and depth in which you can dive into a website. On my first day, I was given a cheat sheet to help me remember some key metrics to report on. So for this article, I'm going to take you behind the scenes and show how we use GA at BigWheel.
The first thing we look at is a high-level overview of the audience visiting a website. The overview also breaks down website traffic per day, week, or month. The main metrics we review are page visits, unique visitors, and page views. This is how we determine which pages perform best along with how many new users the website is attracting.
On the same page/chart, we can analyze engagement metrics. In other words, we can determine how the average user is interacting within your website.
A few metrics we emphasize are the average visit duration, pages per session, and bounce rate. Average time on site is how long one user spends on the website, while pages per session determines how many different pages a user visits during their time on the site. Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave or, ‘bounce.’ A good bounce rate is between 26 and 40 percent.
The next thing we look at is conversion data. This is where we analyze the success rate of established goals. Some examples of these goals and conversions could be a user signing up for a newsletter, requesting more information, or calling the business directly.
Here, you can find each individual goal and its conversion success. Along with the clicks each goal gained, the value of each goal, and the conversion rate.
Another useful tool of analytics is the ability to breakdown user traffic and goal conversions by geographic location. If you have an eCommerce business, then we can track where purchases are coming from. If the business is regionalized, we can target that specific region.
With the ability to target ads to specific locations, analytics allows us to evaluate the effectiveness in each location or region.
Another aspect of GA is determining which medium visitors are using to reach your site.
When I say medium, I’m referring to the device they are using to reach your website. Analytics breaks it down into three devices: Mobile (phones), Desktop, and Tablets. If your site receives more users on a smartphone, then an enhanced mobile version of your website can be beneficial for your business.
Similar to device type reporting, another important metric we look at is the channel from which a user arrives on a site.
In its simplest form, the channel shows how users are getting to your site. The top three channels we pay attention to are Organic Search, Paid Search, and Direct Traffic. Organic Search is basically someone typing a keyword(s) into a search engine and coming across your site. Paid Search search is exactly how it sounds, when the owner of the website has paid for their ad to be shown to generate clicks and interest. Direct Traffic is when a user comes to your site directly by typing in your website URL.
One of the last things we look at is Benchmarking.
This is where analytics can compare one business to similar businesses nationally. It covers all sorts of industries such as finance, food and drink, arts and entertainment, and more. Each category can subsequently be broken down into narrower search. For example, if you are in the TV business you can segment the Entertainment Industry into a sub-category like All Film and TV or Film and TV Production. Or in this case, other shopping companies.
Google has made it easier for users to find the important trends in their data in GA. You’re able to analyze the different users coming to your website along with how they’re interacting within it. Tracking users and conversions all over the world across multiple devices, GA can help improve all facets of your business. If you’re interested in improving how you track website visitors, we’d love to hear from you.