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The Secrets Google Analytics is Dying to Share

I’m very pleased to welcome marketing expert Martina Iring, of MartinaIring.com, to the pages of the Big Brand System. Martina has a lot to say about Google Analytics in today’s post. Be sure to look for her special offer at the end: you don’t want to miss it! –Pamela

brand building online depends on your web trafficHave you ever sat there, looking at your website and wondered …

How the heck did people get here?

Which pages do my visitors look at the most?

I wonder if that online ad I paid for brought me any traffic?

That’s the beauty of internet marketing. Unlike traditional media where you really just have to take a stab in the dark to figure out that ever-elusive ROI, there are no secrets online.

If you’re thinking it’s going to take some kind of fancy or expensive program that your small business simply can’t afford, I’m very pleased to burst that bubble.

You can get all the goods for free thanks to Google Analytics.

Getting Google Analytics Set Up

If you’re about to bookmark this page for future reference, thinking ‘this is great and I’ll deal with it when I have the time,’ I’m going to urge you to get your account set up right away.

Why?

Google Analytics will not go back in time to grab data. It will only start collecting information from the time that you activate your account.

So at the very least, get it set up so that all that valuable info can start collecting.

Before We Get Started

Many of you will have Analytics set up. But do you ever use it? And I’m talking really using it, not just popping in to have a look at the number of visitors.

There is so much more your account is just bursting at the seams to tell you!

Google Analytics almost seems to have its own language. There are all sorts of confusing terms (maybe that’s why you don’t spend much time in your account?). Before you dive in, download this Google Analytics Cheat Sheet with a glossary of key terms and what they mean for your internet marketing. Keep it handy for quick reference as we keep going.

*Note: I am using the new version of Analytics. Click on the “new version” link in the top right hand corner when you are logged in.

Unlocking Your Google Analytics Secrets

VISITORS

This section tells you all about your site visitors.

The “Overview” page gives you a great snap shot of what’s going on. For some of you, this may be enough information. You can click deeper into the tabs to get some further insights.

Juicy info (on the overview page):

  • Number of visitors
  • How many pages they looked at
  • How long they spent on your site
  • What your bounce rate is
  • What percentage of your visitors are new, and what percentage are returning

Digging a little deeper:

  • What country your visitors are in (under Demographics > Location)
  • What city your visitors are in (under Demographics > Location > Click on the city tab under the map – country is the default)
  • How frequently visitors come to your site (under Behaviour > Frequency & Recency > Count of Visits)

Juicy questions:

  • Is my traffic going up or down?
  • Is my site engaging visitors, encouraging them to look at other content and spend time reading?
  • Do people often come back to my site, or is it mostly new visitors?
  • Which communities in my area exhibit the greatest need for my local service?
  • How many visitors get to my site and leave immediately without getting further into my content?
TRAFFIC SOURCES

Never wonder how your site visitors found you again! Clicking on this section gives you specific insight into which websites sent you traffic. This is especially important to gauge those internet marketing strategies you have on the go.

Juicy info (on the overview page):

  • Percentage of search traffic
  • Percentage of referral traffic
  • Percentage of direct traffic

Digging a little deeper:

  • All the keywords that have brought you traffic (on the Overview page you will see the top 10 keywords. Click on “view full report” to see them all).
  • Which sites sent you traffic (Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals)

Juicy questions:

  • How do my visitors find my site?
  • Which keywords are people using to find me? (this can be really fascinating!)
  • Which other websites are sending me traffic?
  • Which social media channel is sending me the most traffic?
  • Did that online ad I bought send me any traffic?
  • Did that guest post I wrote bring me any new visitors?
CONTENT

This section gives you insight into which pages your visitors checked out.

It can be surprising what visitors look at. You might have just quickly thrown up a page and forgotten to polish it. And it turns out that TONS of your visitors go there. Or you might be wondering whether anyone is actually going to the page that you so very carefully crafted.

Figuring out your most popular content also gives you an indication of the type of information that people want and need from you.

Juicy info:

  • Which are the top viewed pages on my site? (Content > Site content > Pages)
  • What is the first page that people see? (Content > Site content > Landing Pages)
  • From which page do people leave my site? (Content > Site content > Exit Pages)
  • Where do people click on my site? (Content > In-page Analytics)

Juicy questions:

  • Are visitors looking at the content that I want them to?
  • Which are the most popular pages on my site?
  • What’s the most popular type of content on my site?
  • How do visitors engage with the content on my site (navigation, links, sidebar etc…)?

Other Functions of Note

ADWORDS

If you use Google Pay-Per-Click advertising, you can access the stats in the “Advertising” tab.

COMPARING DATES

By changing the dates in the top right hand corner, you can get a broader picture, say the last 6 months or the last year.

If you work in a seasonal business, where you are really busy at certain times of the year, seeing that your traffic has gone down from the busy months to the slower months is not much help to you. Much more useful is comparing this year’s busy month to last year’s, to see if things are improving. Comparing apples to apples so to speak.

You can do this easily by going into the dates area and ticking the “Compare to Past” box. This will allow you to compare 2 different date ranges and see at a glance how things are looking.

GOALS

You can set up goals to answer the question of how many of my visitors actually do what I want them to. Your goals will completely depend on your business.

Maybe it’s to buy something. Contact you. Sign up for your email newsletter.

Whatever your goal, determine the URL that would equal an action completed. For most goals it’s some sort of a “thank you” page. Then insert that URL into your Analytics (Conversions > Goals).

You are now armed with some important information that can help to guide your internet marketing efforts. Instead of just hoping that your online communications strategies are working, you can now check out whether they actually are.

I did my best to offer simple, general insights into Analytics, and the metrics that I personally find are the most relevant for small business owners. If you would like to dive in deeper, the Analytics Help centre has loads more information.

It’s important to note that this is by no means an exhaustive list (and if you do any sort of online or Pay-Per-Click advertising, your Analytics needs will be more robust). There are people out there who make a living solely on analyzing and scrutinizing Analytics data. We could go on forever.

But we’re busy business owners, which is why I shared what I think are the gems.

Pamela Wilson

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22 thoughts on “The Secrets Google Analytics is Dying to Share”

  1. Awesome post Martina, and thanks to Pam for bringing you over! I’ve been looking for something like this — a simple, easy-to-understand overview of Analytics that I can share with clients and readers, and here it is. (I was seriously griping that I would have to pull it together myself, as I am NOT an expert in Analytics, by any stretch. So thank you for that!)

  2. Hello Martina,

    great information, tightly packed together. I have printed it out for reference. And thank you for the handy cheat sheet. I am just about to get to know about google analytics …

    Just a quick question:

    Is there a way to figure out on what page a site appears on google’s search pages, for example site X is mentioned first for a particular search word on page 12 of the google search results? If I want to check this, I currently go thru all the pages to find the position of a particular site – and this is really tedious.

    I want to follow what position a particular site has over time and check if the site goes up or down as well its current position on the search result pages for a particular keyword or phrase.

    I hope that makes sense 😉

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Well, I have to say that I owe YOU a thank you Peter. I never thought to check if there was a way out there to do this. Like you, I just did it manually. Amazing how we never think to question the things that we do automatically 🙂

      I found a great free tool here: https://arizonawebdevelopment.com/google-page-rank

      Just plunk in the URL, and it will let you know what number you are in the results, what page that corresponds to and a link to the google search result.

      I tried it out on a couple of different queries, and it worked accurately. Let me know if it works for you.

      • Thank you for the link. I tried it out and it works good.

        Perhaps you can let me know the exact phrases you where using in your search because I did a lot of research into this but came up with nothing useful.

        Also, in your professional opinion, do you think google is honoring quality content sites over say linkbank and the like sites? I am in the process of designing my site (and thanks to Pamela it will look great) with a focus on quality content (like the content you or Pamela have on your sites) or should I just buy 1000 backlinks for a couple of bucks?

        • Hey Peter,

          It was a really long tail search “tool to follow a page’s ranking on google” and now the tool that I found doesn’t even show up there. I guess it was meant to be 🙂

          Yes, yes, yes to quality content! That is the number most important thing. It’s more of an investment in time and resources, but well worth it. You don’t have to build it all up at once. With a blog, you will add to it over time. And it’s not just to please Google, your site visitors will appreciate it too!

          In terms of links in directories, I do use a service that offers 100 links in relevant directories for a very reasonable price. However, I don’t go beyond that, as I don’t feel it’s necessary. I focus on the content piece and getting quality links, such as with guest articles and posts.

          Hope this helps!

  3. Very nice. I like the cheat sheet. I often look at my Google Analytics page mystified. Interesting stuff, but I never understood it all. This should help – many thanks.

  4. Martina, thanks for a great post.

    Your cheat sheet does a great job of explaining the terms. I always struggled to understand ‘bounce rate’ and your explanation is the clearest I’ve read.

    One thing about ‘unique visitors’: from what I gather, this is a browser related figure. When the same person uses different browsers on the same machine, each browser view is counted as unique. That’s how it appears while I’ve been testing my new website in different browsers. Do you know if this is true?

  5. Thanks Mark! I did my best to avoid techie speak and make the info digestible for anyone.

    Great question about unique visitors. It is browser related. So if I use Firefox today to go to your site, and Safari tomorrow, that would count as 2 unique visitors, even though it’s one actual person. Unique visitors is a tricky metric and can never be a perfect count. A whole family can share one computer, for example, and even though there is 4 of them, they are counting as one person. Or people can block or delete their cookies. So just take the unique visitors with a grain of salt and know that it’s just an approximate value.

  6. Martina,

    Thank you so much for that post. I have been hearing a lot of people in my area talking about Google Analytics but no one would ever explain how to do it and how to start. You have succeeded in doing that. I will definitely start today. This will definitely help me with my Real Estate Business tremendously.

    THANK YOU!!! 🙂

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