Google Analytics 101: optimizing your site

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Google Analytics provide an in-depth view of your business' online footprint and effectiveness. The powerful web analytics tool allows you to drill down into various areas of your site or app and provides potent insights into the performance of your business.

Google Analytics is one of the most prevalent online analytics tools – used to track website data and distil the metrics into useful information to evaluate your business success. Google Analytics covers visitor behavior – including where visitors enter your website, where they exit, and after how long – as well as demographics, traffic sources, conversions, and more.

While Google Analytics makes this information easily accessible, it's not always simple to translate what you see into meaningful insights that can grow your business. Here we consider valuable metrics – exploring what they are and how best to use them.


The basics

Session

The time a user is active on your website or app. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity. Users that leave the site and return within 30 minutes count as part of the original session.

Pageviews

The number of times a web page is viewed. It's a cumulative number and records every visit; if a visitor refreshes the web page or leaves and returns later, these count as additional page views.

Pageviews help you understand how visitors interact with your website, for example, which content or product pages are receiving the most hits. You can use this information to shape your website to attract and engage potential and existing customers.

Unique pageviews

The number of sessions during which a page was viewed. This metric counts the number of times a visitor views a page in one session as a single event (or a unique pageview).

Users

Records the number of visitors to your website who have had at least one session within the selected date range; it includes new and returning users.

Tracking monthly users helps you understand if your website's audience is increasing, decreasing, or unchanged.


User behaviour

Bounce rate

The percentage of visitors who enter and then exit your website without viewing other pages. The bounce rate doesn't factor in how visitors arrive at that page or how long they stayed.

Use this metric to identify which pages users find engaging and those that could be improved to support more positive customer actions.

Exit rate

The exit rate is the percentage of visitors to a web page that leave the website from that page (to another site). With this information, you can begin to understand which web pages engage your users.

The number of exits correlates with the performance of your website and signifies whether it's user-friendly.

Average time on page

This metric shows how much time, on average, is spent by visitors on a page, measuring the effectiveness of that page.

The time a visitor spends on a page suggests whether they have connected with your content. More visitors spending less time on a page can be a matter of concern, indicating you need to reevaluate the page and its content.


Website traffic

Traffic sources: Direct vs. Referral

Traffic sources tell you exactly how visitors arrived at your website – via search engine, social media, digital marketing campaigns, or other.

Google Analytics splits this into direct – where a visitor types your URL into their browser – and referral traffic – where a visitor lands on your page by clicking a link.

Knowing the source of your site traffic can help you better target potential and existing customers, focus on the channels that work best, and identify any gaps.

Search Traffic: Organic vs. Paid

Google Analytics has all the data you need if you're looking for a more granular view of traffic from search engines. View the percentage of traffic coming from search engines and a breakdown of whether it’s from organic or paid searches.

Organic search shows those who entered your site by clicking organic (unpaid) links on the search engine results page. Paid search results are users who clicked on one of your paid search engine adverts, such as Google Ads.

Use this data to assess how well your website performs in search engine results (and the strength of your SEO) and evaluate how your paid campaigns are performing.


Tailored insights

Goals

With Google Analytics set up, you can set goals to monitor the conversion rate of activities. For example, users completing an online contact form or transaction, or visitors spending a defined period engaging with your site. Assign a monetary value to your goals to estimate the return on investment for these activities.


Summary

Given the abundant data possibilities that can be gained from web analytics tools, the potential is endless. Tools such as Google Analytics surfaces valuable data about your audience – the more you know, the better your business decisions will be.