Google Analytics – A Beginner’s Guide
Explore the power of website analytics
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is the big name in free website analytics tools. Operating for over 10 years, Google Analytics frequently tops any lists of best free website analysis tools, and there’s no reason you can’t begin using the power of analytics on your own website today.
Check out Google Analytics here: https://www.google.co.uk/analytics/
As quoted from Google themselves:
Get stronger results across all your sites, apps, and offline channels. Google Analytics Solutions helps you turn customer insights into real gains.
How to install Google Analytics
There are three fundamental steps to implementing Google Analytics with your website:
- Create or use an existing Google Account to sign up to Google Analytics for free at https://www.google.co.uk/analytics/.
- Input the details of your website inside the Google Analytics dashboard. You’ll need the website name, the URL and details of your industry and time-zone.
- Google will then provide you a snippet of code called a Tracking ID to place within the code of your website.
The last step may be a little tricky for novice website owners. If you’re using a WordPress website, there are many plugins that can automate the process for you. You may even be using a theme that allows direct Google Analytics integration.
It’ll take around 24 to 48 hours for useful statistics to start rolling in once the code has been put in place. Keep an eye on your stats at any time by logging into the Analytics Dashboard at https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/.
Important metrics to track
Once inside the Analytics Dashboard, don’t worry if it all looks very overwhelming. It’s quite amazing that Google have developed a product that allows you to have such deep website analytics insights for free.
I’ll just touch on some of the more useful metrics to keep an eye on (otherwise I’ll be here all day):
Visitor Acquisition tells you how your visitors found your website. This can be found under Acquisition > Overview from the menu on the left in the Dashboard.
There are four main basic channels that user acquisition falls into. I’ll summarise these below:
- Organic Search – These are users who found your website from search result listings. So if somebody were to type a query into Google and they then find and click through to your website from here, they would have found you via Organic Search.
- Direct – These are user who know of your website URL and have typed it directly into their browser. Perhaps you’ve given them a business card with your website URL, or they’ve figured out your website URL from your email address, for example.
- Referral – These are users who have visited your site from a third-party website. Perhaps your site is listed in a business directory, or somebody has written a testimonial about you and linked your website.
- Social – These are visitors from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Somebody may have mentioned your website in a post/tweet, or you’ve linked your website in a post/tweet of your own. A member of these social networks has then visited your website.
You can funnel down into each of these categories for greater insights, for example find out exactly which third-party websites are linking to your site as a referral.
Your Bounce Rate is an important factor in telling you how engaging your website is. It can be found in many areas of the Analytics Dashboard and is represented by a percentage out of 100. A lower bounce rate is better than a higher bounce rate.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave the website from the first page they visit – without exploring it any further.
See this post from Kissmetrics for more information on Bounce Rate: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/bounce-rate/?wide=1
Average Session Duration can be found within many areas of the Dashboard menu. It ties in very closely with the Bounce Rate, and obviously the higher the session duration, the more engaging your content may be.
If somebody sticks around on your site for an extended duration, they’ll be more likely to have an interest in you or your product.
Pages per visit
A very good measure of how engaging your content may be is how many Pages Per Visit a user views. Expressed as Pages/Session, it can be found throughout the Dashboard.
Pages Per Visit is an important metric if you’re running a blog monetised by ads, or an online shop for example. When people browse more pages from your ecommerce site, they’ll naturally be more likely to buy something. Or the more pages a visitor views on your blog, the more ads they’ll see and the more revenue you’ll gain.
A very useful piece of information, here you can see the most popular pages on your website. This can be found in Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages in the Dashboard menu.
You can even filter this data to then discover which content on your site is the least popular, and then work on improving it.
How to grow your website using analytics
Using just the few metrics I’ve mentioned above, we now have a solid idea on where your website excels at attracting and keeping visitors, and where it struggles to retain these visitors.
It’s now time to use a little initiative and common sense to exploit these metrics. Here I’ll give you a couple of basic examples on how to ensure greater traffic to your site, and keep that traffic around for longer.
Get more visitors
Looking at your Visitor Acquisition stats, you’ll be able to clearly see the channels that are not performing as effectively as they could be.
If Organic Search is looking low, you’ll need to take some steps to improve your SEO efforts. If Social traffic isn’t there, build a greater presence on popular social networks – Facebook and Twitter at minimum.
Perhaps referrals aren’t doing too great? Create a blog and write useful, engaging content that other sites will be likely to link to. If you have insight into a particular industry/technology/product – write about it! Share your knowledge, and outreach to others in your industry to ensure your voice is heard. The referrals will naturally come.
Decrease bounce rate and increase pages per visit
You need to make sure you get a visitors attention immediately, and retain their attention long enough to make them more likely to click through to another page of the site. A product page, contact page, whatever it may be. You just don’t want them immediately disappearing.
Do this by creating engaging CTA’s (calls to action). Have time-limited special offers on a product. Continue a blog post into separate parts across the site. Add a ‘Similar Products’ or ‘Posts Like This’ widget to highlight other pages of the site.
Perhaps your website content is good but is just really slow to load? Perhaps the design is a little out of date. These will lead to high bounce rate, so take steps to ensure your website is as optimised as possible.
Increase session duration
If you have a well-written blog, or have a lot of content on your pages, you’ll naturally have a high session duration.
To improve, you may need to take steps to learn how to write effective sales pitches on your product page, or develop your blog writing skills to have a more engaging writing style.
Perhaps your website has some usability issues that could be improved to make visitors stick around for longer. Is your font style large enough and easy to read? Is your colour scheme welcoming and not too harsh?
This is only the beginning. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Google Analytics is capable of here. In fact, I’m going to keep adding to this page over time to make this a valuable resource to Google Analytics beginners.
But hopefully you now realise that if you’re not using a website analytics tool on your site you really are missing out on explosive growth potential. And it’s all free to use.
You’ll discover how people find and interact with your website, you can identify problems and then learn what you need to improve to engage your audience further.
Remember, if you need any help with your website – whether that’s help with website analytics or not – ProWP are here for you.