Our Basic Beginners’ Guide to Google Analytics
Google Analytics can be a great tool for tracking successes and challenges of your website. And while there’s a definite learning curve to using the tool (don’t get discouraged if you get lost a few times finding your way around!), it’s well worth the incredibly helpful information you can learn about your website.
The logical place to start is your dashboard (which has lots of helpful information), but if you want to really understand and improve your website, it’s necessary to dig deeper into your data. We have a few tips for you to go beyond the dashboard and get the most out of Google analytics. Here are 5 different tools in Google Analytics that you should be using:
1. How is your site doing in general?
A great place to start when looking at Google Analytics is the overview section of the Audience tab. Here you can see some general information about how people have been interacting with your site. In the top right corner you can adjust the date and the interval for the data you want to see. The rest of this page provides some more general information about users of your site such as the number of sessions, the number of users, pageviews, and average time on page. This is a great area to see the trends of your site over a certain period of time. For example, if you see big changes in session time over a certain period of time, you can look back and see if it was caused by any changes you made during that time.
2. Who is looking at your page?
It’s one thing to know about your page stats, but a whole other thing to learn about the people who are looking at your site. Under the Audience tab you have the ability to go further into Demographics, Geography, and more. Here is where you can find the Age, Gender, and Location of your viewer. Explore these areas! Demographic information can tell you if you’re hitting your target audience or not, which can help you to know if you should make adjustments based on the people who are visiting your site.
There is a lot of information in this tab that you can use to make adjustments to make it more friendly to your specific audience. For example, if your site attracts a lot of mobile users, and they tend to have a high bounce rate, that means your site needs to be optimized for mobile.
The Acquisition tab gives you a look into where your traffic comes from – for example, if users are referred from social media, or from search engines, or from links on other websites. The overview tab gives a good breakdown of your top channels.
Then, as you dig deeper into this information, you can learn more about how to best advertise. For example, if your largest acquisition is from Social channels, by clicking on the link you can learn which social networks are bringing in the most people (and which is the best at bringing in new users!). If you find lots of clicks coming in from Twitter, maybe it would be worth it to invest more advertising there!
While understanding how your website is doing as a whole is an important first step, it’s necessary to further break down your information into individual pages and specific content. If your bounce rate has risen, for example, it could be due to an error on a specific page, which you can’t learn from an overview. The Behavior tab can tell you this type of information. In the Site Content breakdown, you can find your most popular pages. You can also sort by different feels to see your pages with highest or lowest average time on page, bounce rate, etc. If you launched a new page or small piece, you can see how well it’s doing!
5. Conversion Goals
If there is something in particular you want to measure about your site or the way your users interact with your site, the Conversions tab is great place to go to. Here, you can create up to 20 goals to measure when people click on a certain link or reach a certain page. We have goals set up to track each time a user downloads any free content from our site, so we can track what content and acquisition funnels best lead people to interact with us online. The Conversions area of Google Analytics will tell you how many of your goals you you have reached and your overall reach.
In almost all parts of Google Analytics you have the option to compare different segments. At the top of your page, to the right of “All Users”, you can choose to add one segment or more. For example, you can compare new users vs. returning users on almost all aspects of your site. This is a great resource to compare different variables of your site!
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Lisa Lyons, CMG’s Informatics Specialist, will graduate from the University of Michigan this upcoming December with a Bachelor of Science in Information Analysis and a minor in Computer Science. She wants to work with data in order to make an impact in the industry. She grew up in Clarkston, Michigan, and she loves the Midwest! Lisa enjoys reading, being outside, exercise, and learning new things!