Just about every owner or manager of a website is familiar with Google Analytics (GA) and what it is used for. At the same time, it is not uncommon to hear that many people are unaware of some of the most basic things that Analytics can be used for. In this post, we will discuss five basic data points that can be extracted from GA as well as five more advanced items that marketers and business owners can use to help maximize the value of their online presence.
Acquisition >> All Traffic
This tab is one of the most commonly used tabs in the platform including a high-level view of individual Channel breakdowns, a more detailed look at source and medium, and a detailed look at offsite Referral traffic. This section (in its default setting) provides the most basic info a site owner would want to see. By simply changing the selected dates shown, you can easily get a month over month, year over year, etc. look at how the individual channels such as Organic traffic, Paid Traffic, Direct traffic are performing.
Acquisition >> Search Engine Optimization
One of the newer sections of GA, the Search Engine Optimization tab provides detailed breakdowns on specific search terms used to find your website organically. This section helps to replace the data previously lost through Google’s tightening up of their privacy policies which eliminated much of this data for anyone logged in to a Google account. It also shows high-level information on these terms such as Clicks, Impressions, and your Average Position. All of this information can help you better determine areas to be targeted for improvement. While this section does require you to have your GA account linked with your Google Webmaster Tools account, this is a fairly easy task to perform for even a basic webmaster. More detailed information on setting up and linking these accounts can be found here.
Audience >> Mobile
Back in May 2015, Google officially announced that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches. With the growing trend towards mobile, it is crucial to not only be sure that your website is mobile-friendly but to also be aware of how this trend is directly affecting your site’s traffic. This tab in GA allows you to quickly and easily see a breakdown between desktop, mobile and tablet traffic as well as the traffic stats directly related to each (traffic, user behavior, conversions, etc). This tab also allows you to see a clear breakdown of the individual devices being used for both mobile and tablet traffic. This information can help you determine if you are having any potential issues with specific devices.
Behavior >> Site Content
Do you know what your top viewed page is? Well, now you can. The Site Content tab allows you to view a detailed list of all of your visited pages and provides valuable information on which pages are the most visited, which see the highest percentage of exits and more. It also lets you get a great picture of which pages are the most landed on which can be crucial in determining what areas of your site are both the most viewed as well as performing the best from the standpoint of organic search. While it is a bit more advanced, you can also drill down to see what page path people take from these core site pages to help you better understand the behavior of your visitors and how they travel through your site.
Conversions >> Goals
The Goals portion of GA is probably one of the most crucial sections, yet it is also one of the most under-utilized sections of the platform. Knowing what channels are performing and not performing is crucial to determining what areas need the most improvement and which areas are worth a larger investment of time and marketing dollars. This does require a bit more knowledge of the platform as Goals have to be setup in the Admin section to be tracked, but once they are in place, they can be tracked in Analytics and linked to Adwords as well accurately track the value of all platforms.
Audience >> Demographics
While the feature of Demographics is not necessarily advanced, what you can and should do with it typically is. One of the best ways to strategize content, paid campaigns, social strategy, etc. is to build buying personas and one of the most important things in doing so is knowing who your buyers are. The Demographics section of GA provides details and user behavior statistics on multiple aspects including gender, age, and geographic location. Having these details will help you to most effectively create and position any content or campaigns your team creates and posts.
Behavior >> Site Speed
While it is definitely not the most glamorous data point that your weekly or monthly reports may include, Site Speed is certainly one factor that should not be ignored. Aside from site speed being a factor in overall organic positioning, it is one that can turn a well-designed website into one that no one sees because they are unwilling to wait for its features to load. From high-level overviews of browser load speeds and response times to more detailed and granular data at the page level, the information gained from this tab can help you and your IT team alleviates issues that may be easy fixes but causing big issues. Couple this with a handy dandy Speed Suggestions section and you have a robust, powerful tool.
Conversions >> Multi-Channel Funnels
In the above section, we discussed the benefits and value of being able to see direct conversion information (form fills, downloads, etc.), but what can often get overlooked are the steps users take prior to actually completing a conversion. On the surface, if you spent $1,000 on a Paid Advertising campaign and it reflected no conversions, you would assume (and rightly so) that the campaign had not been a success. Using the multi-channel funnel portion will allow you to see if any of your conversions actually originated as Paid referrals even if their direct conversion came from something such as Organic or Direct traffic. This will allow you to more accurately assess the full value of all of your efforts and help you determine user paths as well.
Real-Time >> Overview
Wouldn’t it be great to know if someone is on your website right now? Would it be even better if you were able to talk to them while they are on the site? Well, while the Real-Time tab in Analytics doesn’t actually allow you to “talk” you visitors on your website, it does give you up to the minute data and information on what people currently are doing on your website. Data provided includes location information, pages they are viewing, referral details, top keywords and more. The tab also provides a detailed breakdown for on-site conversions which allows you to quickly and easily cross-reference information to determine what behavior is being followed by those who complete conversions (purchases, signups, etc.).
Analytics >> Segments
For our final tab, we are going to venture outside of the side dashboard for a portion of GA that can help webmasters across the board really dig in and discover some crucial information. Creating Segments allows you to easily dig into specific areas and at the same time save those searches into segments that can easily be viewed and selected for future use. Just like with the date comparison feature, you can easily compare segments to other segments, offering you an easy to view look at successes and failures.
As you can see, there is so much data and information that can be pulled from GA to help you assess and strategize in an effort to help you make your website a successful one. Take your strategy to the next level by leveraging the details and information provided by GA.