A Short Guide to Google Analytics

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A Short Guide to Google Analytics

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Some of you may have heard me say that having a website without some kind of statistics is like trying to drive with your eyes closed. Without data how do you know whether your website is doing what you need it to? If you are actively marketing your business you want to be able to see your visitor numbers increasing.

Analytics can also give you great data on things like, your most popular pages, the most popular days of the week and times that your website is accessed and even whether people are using your website more on desktop computers or mobile.

Checking your data can also help you find out if too many people are ‘bouncing’, this means leaving your website as soon as they find it.

I tend to recommend Google Analytics because it is free. There are lots of other statistics packages out there and some can give really detailed information. If you are a large B2B company there are packages that can identify what company has visited your website!

Setting Up Google Analytics

I have already written an FAQ on how to get Google Analytics on your website, so I won’t repeat myself…you can read about it here

What do I do now?

Ok so now you have it, unless you have a lovely digital agency who will send you a report on a regular basis you’ll need to login and check your stats. I find it useful to diarise this for the beginning of each month.

Easiest way to login is to Google ‘Google Analytics’ click the result and enter you username and password. You’ll start on the Dashboard which gives you very immediate data, including how many people are on your website right now and visitor trends for the past week. You can scroll down to see information like When do your users visit and What are your top devices.

Useful Data

Here are the most useful areas for me, on the right hand side you will see a menu which includes Audience. Click here and then click on Overview.

Select the date range in the top left, I like to view data by month (I also record this data outside of Google Analytics, but that’s up to you)

The data you can now see will tell you:

Users – how many individual people accessed your website during the month

Sessions – How many times people accessed your website during the month (a person may have accessed your website several times)

Number of Sessions per User

Page Views – How many pages in total your users viewed

Pages per Session

Average Session Duration

Bounce Rate – This is a figure which tells you how many of your users came to the site and left immediately. Anything under 50% is fine….unfortunately at least half of your ‘visitors’ will probably be ‘bots’ – these could be good bots (like Google bots) or bad bots (like Spam Bots), but there is nothing you can really do to stop them and you could spend a lot of time and money trying.

You will also see a pie chat showing New and Returning visitors. 80/20 would be a good split here to show your website is engaging current and new customers.

I now like to take a look at how visitors found my website. You can find this information again in the left hand menu under Acquisition, you may have to close the Audience menu to see it. Once again select overview and set the date period if you need to

Here you will find the source of your visitors displayed both as a pie chart and a table

Organic Search – this means people that found your website in the natural Google listings. In theory you could also find out what term people searched for, but most people have private browsing enabled, so this often does not yield helpful data

Direct – these are people who typed your website address into the address bar of their browser, they may have found it on your business card, email signature, an advert or flyer

Social – fairly self explanatory….these are visitors that came from social networks, clicking on this in the table will give you a breakdown of your most popular social networks

Referral – this is people who clicked on your website address on another website, unfortunately much of this data is often Spam bots, so if you see things like xyz.co.uk just ignore

You may see other sources too for example if you have run a recruitment advert on a large national site

Finally is you have run a PPC campaign you can see Paid Search data here, the number of people that came to your website after clicking on your Google Ad.

Google Analytics contains a huge volume of data about your site and your visitors, but if you can at least start by hooking it up to your website and keeping an eye on the above stats on a monthly basis it will give you a great insight into how your website and your marketing is working.