Google Analytics – 3 quick tips for beginners

 In Web Stuff

Google Analytics plays an important roll in any successful marketing strategy. It allows for a host of metrics on how visitors interact with a website and social media channels. These metrics can help shape how any business approaches their online presence.

There’s no doubt that Google Analytics can be intimidating. With so many different metrics to look at and analyze, where to even begin?

First of all, sign up for a free account. If you built your website, it’s relatively easy to get up and running. In fact, many website builders have an option to add the property ID right in the dashboard. If your web designer/developer setup analytics for your site, be sure to get access.

As a part of all Two Pines Creative WordPress Maintenance and Monitoring plans, we offer monthly reporting for sites’ Google Analytics. This can be helpful for business owners who just want a simple overview rather than always having to get into the gritty details.

We know that some out there might like the gritty details. Here’s 3 quick tips of what to look at first.

1. Watch Sessions trends

Google AnalyticsOnce logged in to Google Analytics, the first screen is the Audience>Overview dashboard. This is the perfect place to start for beginners. For top level metrics, this could be the only place you’ll ever need to go.

Set the date range in the upper right-hand corner. Start with the last full month (in our examples, we’re going back to November 2016). Just below the date range picker are some buttons to change the look of the graph: Hourly, Day, Week, Month. Week is a good place to start. Below the large graph are a list of smaller graphs with numbers. Click on ‘Sessions’ to view the enlarged graph.

Sessions are officially defined as: …the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.  Basically, a Session is whenever someone comes to your site, does something, and then leaves. Most noteworthy is that one person can log many sessions (returning visitors)–even within one day.

The Session graph will ebb and flow naturally. Depending on when and how much time is in view, there could be some ‘spikes’. The spikes could be due to a promotion, a collaborated email campaign, or an influencer mention. It’s important to watch for trends. Is traffic steadily declining around the holidays each year? Use the information to beef up marketing efforts during those months to get more traffic. Remember, traffic can be a key component in how Google ranks a page in search results. The goal is to get people to your site, and have them stay there.

2. Keep the Bounce Rate low

Google AnalyticsSpeaking of people staying on your site, Bounce Rate will show if they are. Bounce Rate is: The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. This means that someone came to a page and left without visiting another page. They either made a mistake, read something and didn’t click any internal links, or encountered a 404 page. This is bad. Time spent navigating around a site can equal more conversions. The more people who convert–fill out a form, give an email address, share a link–the greater the chance of them buying something.

Fixing a high bounce rate (I’d consider 60% quite high for most websites) can be straightforward for many sites. Simple fixes to lower bounce rates include:

  • Removing excess external links
  • making sure there are no broken links
  • Adding internal links

More advanced options could include:

  • Improving performance
  • Making the site responsive
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Improving navigation flow

These are all things we take very seriously when helping our clients. User experience is everything. When it’s good, people will stay on a site longer and come back often. If it’s bad, people will ‘bounce’ and never come back.

3. Know where traffic is coming from

Google AnalyticsUnder the Acquisition>Overview menu is a list showing where traffic is originating. Knowing where website traffic is coming from is a key metric in understanding how to focus marketing efforts.

In our example, half of the sessions from the selected date range came from social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc). Such a high number could be because of shareable content creation or simply boosting Facebook posts to reach more people. This particular client currently has no email marketing plan in place. This is why there’s such a low number of sessions.

If your metrics look like this, it could be a great opportunity to shift focus. Perhaps more email campaigns targeting a segmented audience, or focusing on search engine optimization to increase organic search. To increase referral traffic, write a blog post or two for some higher profile blogs that will link back to your site.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many metrics Google Analytics can show. These 3 quick tips should get you started on the path to improving your online presence. Leave any questions in the comments below, or send us a message.

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