3 easy steps to use Google Analytics effectively.

Google analytics is a very useful free tool that you can use to completely understand every aspect of your website and the people that are browsing it. While it is free and everyone has access to it, many businesses do not utilise everything it has to offer. This is understandable due to the nature and complexity of the statistics you have at your disposal but there are several steps that you can take to ensure that you utilise the information that you have at your disposal. Understanding Google analytics is so important especially if you want to effectively implement a marketing campaign or create a budget for your marketing spend. So here are then 3 easy ways to utilise your Google Analytics profile.

1) Dashboards & Widgets – USE THEM

When you log into GA you will see several options on the left hand side of the screen (Dashboards, short cuts, intelligence events, real time etc) the one that you want to select is dashboards as they allow you to access all the information that you need in an easy to digest format. In general you will need at least 2 dashboards but obviously if you want more information you can use the widgets to create a custom dashboard. Below are listed some of the dashboards I use on a daily basis to gauge our sites performance and the widgets that I use.

a) General Overview dashboard – this is your basic overview of the site and you should check this everyday just to make sure that your traffic hasn’t suddenly dropped overnight. (You are allowed up to 12 Widgets on any dashboard)

  • Website Visits as a timeline & Website visits as a metric – Probably one of the most important stats that you will need to know on a daily basis about your website. Number of visits to your website is not only a good indicator of how many leads you are likely to generate that month but also a good measure of how well your SEO campaign is doing. An increasing number of visits to your site inevitably means that you are moving up the rankings on Google.
  • % New visits – New visits are important because it shows that you are gaining interest from many different sources and not just those that are already associated with your company. Everyone wants new clients and a good measure of the
    likelihood of getting them is to look at new visits
  • Pageviews – This stat is hard to gauge in the initial periods of using GA as you wont know what is a good number of page visits is. It is best to monitor this stat over a period of months and see how it changes with the changes that you make to your website or the campaigns that you are running. A good measure of the user experience of your website is see how many pages are viewed. If you get a lot of traffic and have a low number of page views then it probably means that the user journey of the website isn’t very efficient.
  • Pages/vists – This is possibly a more useful stat than page views as you can actually gauge the number of page views per visit which gives you a better idea of how people use your website. For example, there are probably 3 or 4 main pages that we want people to see on our site (homepage, studio website gallery, bespoke website page & contact us). If you see that people are only browsing 2 pages then your user journey is poor, if you see that people are browsing a lot of pages and not spending long on the pages then it is essential that you adjust the user journey so that they have a bigger incentive to stay on the page you want them to stay on.
  • Avg.Time on Page – A good measure of how engaging the content on your pages is. If you have a gallery page and people spend little or no time on it then it is worth re-thinking the designs that are in the gallery or adding features that ensure people spend longer on the page.
  • Bounce Rate – This is one of the lesser known stats but it is probably one of the most important. Bounce rate effectively means the number of people that land on your site and then immediately leave. Low bounce rate is good as it means people are more likely to explore your website past the homepage and also Google use this as a ranking factor.
  • Visits by traffic type – This stat is useful for seeing how your different marketing strategies are working across different channels. It will show you where your traffic is coming from (Paid, Organic, Refferal, direct etc). Ideally you want the majority of your traffic to be organic and not be over reliant on referral or paid traffic. This is a good measure of how effective your SEO is.
  • Visits and % new visits by Keyword – A very useful stat for SEO purposes. You can see how many people have searched for you under certain keywords. This allows you tailor your Google ad-words campaigns and also the on site SEO of your
    website.
  • Visits and Pageviews by Mobile – An increasingly important statistic now that Google have made changes to their mobile search algorithm. If you are getting very little mobile traffic then that is probably a warning sign that you need a mobile website. For example 51% of all visits to our clients sites last month were done using mobile devices (600,475 searches). If you don’t have a mobile device in the current market landscape then you will struggle to generate good
    figures for your website.
  • Pageviews by page– This is a helpful indicator of whether your visitors are using your website to its desired effect. For example on our website, if the gallery page had very low views then we would try to re think how easy it is for people to access that page.
  • Goal Completions and goal conversion rate by Source – This is a little bit more involved and will require a god knowledge of Analytics. Goal completions are a direct measure of the performance of your website, for example on a property website a goal might be someone filling out a valuation form. This statistic will show you how many people did this and the conversion rate.

b) Site performance – this is a good indicator of how well your website is built.

  • Average Page load time
  • Avg server response time
  • Avg domain look up
  • Visitor caching info
  • Redirect time for countries
  • Mobile page load time
  • Page load time by browser
  • Load time for popular pages
  • Domain lookup by country
  • Server response time by country

c) SEO – Whether you do your own SEO or hire a company this is one of the most important dashboards you can use. SEO is so important in ensuring your website is a success

  • Total organic visits
  • Pages per visit by organic keyword
  • Top organic keywords & % of bounce visits
  • All organic visits (timeline)
  • Top SEO landing pages (Organic Non brand visits and goals)
  • Best organic landing pages – goal completions and conversion rate
  • Source of organic visits
  • Top organic landing pages
  • Top organic keywords & % of new visits
  • Most successful keywords by goals

2) Reporting on your Analytics stats

Google already do a lot of the work for you when it comes to reporting as you can download all the dashboards as PDF’s, however once you have these statistics downloaded it is important that you analyse them and produce reports to ensure that they arent just figures on a page. It is too easy to just log on and look at these figures every morning. Cross referencing statistics is a useful way of finding patterns, for example if you have very low pageviews and a high bounce rate it means that you probably need to change the way that your homepage is laid out in order to guide the users through your site. Reports allow you to asses the performance of your website in a concise way, they are also an effective way of presenting information and value to colleagues and peers.

3) Use the information you have

It is all well and good collecting this data and cross referencing it but it is how you use the information that is the most important factor. These stats can help you implement considered marketing plans and make changes to your website that could improve your business. For example if you know that 98% of your website traffic comes from a certain area in London then, you could focus your marketing efforts in this area to retain clients. Conversely you may want to expand your marketing efforts to a different area based on the fact that you get a concentrated amount of website visits from one area.

Conclusion

Google analytics is a very very useful tool & if you follow the instructions listed above you can utilise it. There is no good reason for you not to use it as its free and it will massively improve your understanding of how your website works and improve your marketing. Whether you use it regularly or just check it a couple of times a week, having dashboards set up is a key part part of a marketers arsenal and you wont truly understand how your website work without it.

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