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Google Analytics: Better Understanding to Improve Your Business

Leslie Ramey
10 August 2017
You’ve probably heard of or maybe even installed Google Analytics for your website. It offers powerful free tools that give you the inside scoop on what’s happening at your website. Knowing how to interpret the data it provides helps you to understand your site’s visitors better and provides valuable insights for businesses. Diving into a new and complicated interface can seem daunting and time-consuming, but it’s worth it. Let’s look at what you can learn by spending just a bit of time with Google Analytics. Specifically, we’ll look at two of the most used sections of Google Analytics: Audience Overview and Acquisition Overview.

But First, A Few Terms…

By placing code on every page of your website to track your visitors, Google can tell you all kinds of useful things about your traffic. This includes where visitors are coming from, how long they stick around, and how many pages they see during a session. A session begins when a user arrives at your site and ends either after 30 minutes of inactivity or at midnight. Users are simply any visitors to your site, while new users are first time visitors. With that terminology established, we’re ready to dive into a few of the reports and what they mean for your business.

Audience Overview

By default, Audience Overview is the first page you’ll see when arriving at Google Analytics. You can also navigate there by selecting “Audience” from the navigation bar on the left, then “Overview” below that. Here, a line chart shows total users per day, while a pie graph breaks down the percentage of new users versus returning users. Together, they provide you with a broad view of how much traffic your site is getting and how you’re doing at attracting new users. Beneath the line chart are a few more useful figures that we’ll explore briefly.

The number of sessions per user gives you an idea of how often your visitors are returning during a given time period. If this number is low, you might focus on how to re-engage your audience using social media or email to persuade them to return. Pages per session and bounce rate both provide information about what happens after users reach your site. A bounce happens when someone only views a single page during their session. These metrics may indicate that you should tweak your landing pages or site navigation to encourage visitors to stick around. Single page websites, of course, are a natural exception.

At the very bottom of this page you can access a variety of demographic and technical details about your users and their devices. Selecting “Operating System” under “System”, for example, shows you whether your audience prefers phones and tablets over desktops and laptops. If a significant proportion falls under Android and iOS, it makes sense to prioritize a mobile version of your site.

Acquisition Overview

The Acquisition Overview can help you assess your marketing efforts by letting you know how visitors find your site. It also correlates data like bounce rate and even sales conversions to sources of that traffic. This means that, for example, you could see that social media drives the most traffic to your site but that these users tend to bounce before they buy anything, whereas users coming from your newsletter stick around for a while.

The channel labels can be a bit confusing. Organic Search and Paid Search refer to traffic from search engines. Organic refers to clicks on search results, while paid refers to ad clicks. Users who type your URL into their browser or use a bookmark show up under Direct. Google also hides data from its users, which means that anyone who is logged into their Google account while viewing your site will be included in the Direct group.  Referral counts visitors who follow links to your site from other sites. Then there’s Social, or social media.

This data gives clear indications about what is and isn’t working in your marketing efforts. If you are investing in search engine advertising but it’s not generating much traffic, it could be time to reevaluate your keyword choices or shift that budget elsewhere. If traffic from referrals is bouncing, back links you’re getting may be in places where they aren’t relevant. Using these insights, you can experiment with changes to your strategy and check back on what’s producing results.

Behavior Flow

Behavior Flow gives a simple idea of how traffic flows through your web site. It is very useful and easy to see how a landing page is performing. For example, the Behavior Flow graph will show you if people are “dropping off” the page you want them to take action on. We’ve seen by redesigning these landing pages conversion and engagement increase. Behavior Flow will also give you insights into other pages of interest on your site for visitors. There are many marketing insights you can gain quickly by getting familiar with this part of Google Analytics.

That Wasn’t So Bad, Was It?

You’re now equipped with enough knowledge to start making your business better with data from Google Analytics. There’s tons more to explore, so click around a bit to see what else is there. If you’re ready for more help getting the most out of Google Analytics, let us know. cThru media offers coaching and consultation to take you to the next level. Contact us today to get started!