I’m very pleased to welcome marketing expert Martina Iring, of MartinaIring.com, to the pages of my website. 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
Have 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.
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
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)
- 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?
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)
- 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?
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.
- 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)
- 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
If you use Google Pay-Per-Click advertising, you can access the stats in the “Advertising” tab.
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.
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.