Without a doubt, the most important tool in your toolbox is the Google offered service called Google Analytics. Despite the fact that web analytics originally grew out of the webmaster and technology industries, Google Analytics is the most widely used service on the web. It is used to generate detailed statistical reports on traffic, traffic sources, sales, sale conversions, social impact and much more. Google Analytics is widely considered to be the best tool to help you comprehend exactly what is going on behind the scenes.
Google Analytics Can Be Overwhelming At First
Understanding the complicated, statistic-filled reports or even understanding what each metric means is scary enough. Yet the majority of new webmasters agree that setting Google Analytics up for use is the hardest part (including segment and conversion goals). Once you have conquered that, the rest is downhill. For help hurdling that obstacle, Google kindly obliged with the Analytics Academy, a free service (As is Google Analytics) to help the newcomer ready the service for use.
Everyone Can Benefit
What metrics should you focus on once you are up and running? This question has plagued many a newcomer and long time user alike. Some metrics are more important depending upon what type of website you have, its function, and the individuals preferences. While many metrics are universal and should be helpful to a wide variety of websites, other metrics are more important to those who run a PPC campaign, Adsense Advertising, Email Marketing, or an ecommerce website.For these various types of websites, metrics that report on ad performance, engaged readership, and subscribers to email would be the norm.
Five Metrics Everyone Can Use
Regardless of what type of website or business you have, the following metrics should be helpful to everyone. Once you get your Google Analytics set up, learning how to use them will be of great service to you. You will begin to understand how they all work together to give you a competitive edge on those who do not use Google Analytics to its fullest capacity.
- Unique Visitors
- Bounce Rate
- Traffic Sources (Includes Keywords)
- Social Reports
A Quick Word about Dashboards
Your dashboards are customizable and allow you to see the most important metrics together. This can give you a pretty good idea of the overall health of your website at a glance. At the moment, you may create as many as 20 customizable dashboards in various views, including up to 12 widgets in each…Wow!
- An Overview of your Website’s Performance
- Quick Access to your most Important Metrics
- An Excellent way to Share Specific Information and Assets with others
Five Universally Beneficial Metrics
Your unique visitors report is a very helpful metric in that it can give you an excellent idea as to how much “real” traffic you receive from month to month. Do not confuse this metric with “Visits” as many do. The Unique Visitors gauge is better since it does not solely rely upon cookies to count. In the Visits metric, if any of your visitors has cleared his computer of cookies, he or she would be counted twice.
That is not to say that both Unique Visitors and Visits are not equally important when it comes to trying to gauge growth in traffic. If your “Visits” metric begins to decline or shows stagnating numbers that reflect little or no growth, you may want to consider these options.
- Strive for content that is even more compelling.
- Reconsider keywords to ensure you are reaching your target audience.
- Make sure your content uses keywords in the title, subtitles, and the first paragraph of your post or articles.
- Check out your most successful competitor and note the differences between your website and theirs. Look for tools like Cuuito that can help determine what keywords they use that are generating real results.
- Tighten up your social media and email campaigns.
- Reassess your design and keep your website easy to use and navigate.
Once you get your numbers moving in the right direction, a good follow-up after Unique Visitors is the “Average Pageviews” metric, which allows you to see just how deep those unique visitors go into your website pages. If the percentage is low, you may not be engaging your visitors enough to make them want to explore.
If you do not get a little nervous right before you check this metric, you are a machine. The “Bounce Rate” metric will tell you how many people leave the first page of your website after only a few seconds. High bounce rate can mean several things are wrong, including poor design, receiving traffic from a poor choice of sources, or a terribly un-engaging website page. A high bounce rate equals a low conversion rate, the polar opposite of where you want to be.
Note: If your bounce rate is higher than 50% for most industries), you may want to check your keywords in your “Search Terms” in Google Webmaster Tools metric to see if they may be misleading. Speaking of which…
This metric is chock full of helpful information, and may well be the most important metric in your arsenal when it comes to tracking from whence your traffic originates. You can learn how much of your traffic comes from these and other sources.
- Search Engine hits
- Direct Path (By typing your URL directly into their address bar)
- Referral from other websites linked to yours
This is a key metric when it comes to making adjustments in your traffic building strategy.You will also find your keyword traffic here. Ascertaining your weakest keywords will not only help you to learn how to better research those keywords, it gives you a better understanding of how keywords are used by the web surfing public, including trends in context searches.
Conversion is the ultimate goal of just about every type of website on the internet. It is an act by the visitor of your site that goes beyond casual searching, such as:
- Signing up for your newsletter
- Making a purchase
- Clicking on banner or other ad
For blogs and websites that are looking simply for readership, multiple page views, commenting on posts, and even following internal links can be considered a type of conversion. However, much of this would not necessarily be in this metric.
Setting up goals in Google Analytics is a good way to help measure your true conversion rate. Your goal conversion gives you a more comprehensive idea of where your website is going. You are allowed 20 goals for each reporting view. The Google Support team supplies detailed instructions on how to set up goals that are helpful for your websites conversion reporting.
Just about everyone who wants to succeed has a Social Media Marketing strategy. It is the one area of promoting and marketing a website that invites experimentation with open arms. Measuring your social media impact can be a difficult and complicated process unless you use this must have metric, which can be found just below the Google Analytics Traffic Source tool.
Special Reports allow you to track your ongoing campaigns as well as measure the effectiveness of individual social media accounts and returning social traffic.Tracking social media ramifications on your website can be a real pain in the neck. Fortunately, the sympathetic folks at KISSmetrics make it easier. Check out their in-depth guide to Special Reports and social tracking here.
Google Analytics is Well Worth the Difficult Learning Curve Blues
While Google Analytics can be a bit difficult to get used to, it is more than worth the trouble once you begin to realize the benefits of having detailed statistics and information filled reports. There is literally no other service that can cut as deeply into the inner workings of your website or present so many useful details. Make it easier by starting with the five universal metrics we covered in this post.
Consider Google Analytics as your floor plan of success. Like a roadmap, all you have to do is track, read, and respond. With information like this at your fingertips, and free of charge, success is not difficult. However, if you are like us, you find it easier to learn when you have a step-by-step guide. If this is the case, check out and purchase The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics by marketer Ronald Lee. It is well worth the five bucks and can be found on Amazon.
Now go forth… and conquer the world one metric at a time.