Google Analytics is a free tool that can illuminate nearly every facet of your website’s performance. With a bit of code on your page, you can track users, their behavior, and hopefully their conversions. But you may think “Hey! I’m not Google Analytics certified…its too complicated for me, isn’t it?” While it is true that Google Analytics is extremely comprehensive, tracking these simple metrics can give you tremendous insight to the traffic on your website and your customer’s behavior as well.
What to Look for in Google Analytics and Where to Find it
1. Number of Visitors- This one is pretty simple and straightforward. You should have an idea of how many visitors come to your website in a given day, week, and month. Creating a baseline of visitors can help you attribute visitors gained through online and even offline marketing campaigns. For example: If your website attracts 1,000 users a month, and after an online marketing campaign your website has a month were 1,400 visitors come, it is a good indication that your campaign was successful. Below is a screenshot from a Google Analytics Account illustrating where this information can be found. Also note the indicated time frame. This can be adjusted to fit what you are looking for, and can also be adjusted to compare against past performance.
2. Visitor Referrals from 3rd Party Sites- So exactly where did all of your visitors come from? If you are unable to answer this question, you won’t be able to focus on successful partnerships and may be wasting time on partnerships that are not providing value to your organization.. By looking at organic referral traffic from other websites you can identify with partnerships are paying off, which are not, and where you might have an opportunity. If you are getting a lot of traffic from a particular organization, but have not reached out to them, you may want to. Consider guest blogging or offering a special deal through the other website to show those customers that your businesses are complimentary and they may find your site valuable as well. This should help drive qualified traffic to both websites. The information can be found in the “Traffic Sources” section in the left side navigation.
3. Visitor referrals from your paid initiatives- Google Adwords referrals are a valuable traffic source marketers will want to track, as you are spending money to acquire those visitors. By connecting Google Analytics to Adwords, you will be able to see which campaign they originated from, what keywords were more successful, and how much traffic each individual campaign contributed visitors to the website. From a holistic perspective, you will be able to determine how many visitors from the search engines came from paid campaigns vs organic search (unpaid) search results. Figure 1 illustrates how to get to the overview of paid vs organic traffic. Figure 2 shows how to get to the actual keyphrases that drove the paid traffic.
Figure 1 Figure 2
4. Visitor’s path- Determine where your visitors are going on the site to know what interests your customer base. What is your top landing page? Where are people coming into your site, other than the homepage? Are they coming into a product page? A category level page? Where are your users going once they are on your site?? Answering these questions can help you determine the most popular pages on your website. You can then change/ alter business practices and/ or alter your website to reflect your business priorities. If a certain page is very popular, but there are only minimal conversions, you may want to alter the page or create a more enticing offer to upgrade your visitors to customers. You must be willing to change either your business or your website to meet the needs of your customers. Below is a screenshot illustrating how to navigate the main left navigation in Google Analytics. This will tell you your landing pages in order of their popularity.
5. Organic keywords- This can help you determine what keywords your visitors searched to find your site from a search engine. This information can be invaluable in helping to shape content on your website to attract visitors with relevant keyphrases. If there is an obvious keyword omission, you can add a page, or alter a page to target a particular keyphrase. For example, let’s say that you sell office chairs, and that last month you ordered an abundance of red office chairs. If you notice that no users came to your site from the search “red office chairs,” you may want to create a page specifically for red office chairs, or target a deals page to red office chairs. You can also determine how valuable a keyword really is to your business. Take the example from above, “red office chairs.” You have optimized a page on your site for red office chairs and are ranking high in the search engines for that phrase. You then notice that the high ranking has translated to only a few visitors and those few visitors did not convert or buy a red office chair. With this information you can begin to alter your strategy, either to redouble your efforts to create better rankings and visitors or to cut your losses and choose a different phrase that will bring in more targeted customers. Below is a sceenshot from Google Analytics that illustrates how to find this section.
Measuring these metrics can give you invaluable data about your website; how much traffic your website averages, where you may want to focus your online strategic partnership efforts and if your Pay-Per-Click programs are paying off. But you can also learn something about your customer by following their path around your website and tracking the search terms they use to find you online. Google Analytics may seem daunting, but analyzing this simple data can tell you a lot more than you probably thought.
About the Author
Neil is a natural digital marketer with a mix of tech nerd, news junkie, and style. He began his marketing career in Boston with a specialization in SEO after graduating from Purdue University in Indiana. After a couple of years with a heavy SEO focus, Neil has branched out into the many other fascinating aspects of internet marketing.More Content by Neil Ingalls