Some pretty interesting facts here, being a Google fanatic I had to share!
So now that you know how to navigate the dashboard and what the numbers mean for your traffic sources, what’s next? How do you act on this data? Well that is what separates you from your competitors. If you can read the data that Google Analytics gives you and in turn know how to take action on that information, you will succeed! In Part 3, we will explain what some of the steps are to help you do just that.
When looking at the data for your search engine traffic, it is important to analyze the keyword report. This report shows us what visitors are expecting to find in your website. One component of this report, which we explained in Part 1: Navigating the Dashboard, is the bounce rate. Having a high bounce rate means you are failing to meet that expectation. For example, if a visitor typed in “apples” and found your website, because you mention apples a few times, then they would click on your site. But when they get there, your site is actually all about oranges, the visitor would leave your site immediately. Well what does this data tell you? First off, it tells you that your site is ranking for the wrong keyword, and second, it tells you that your visitor did not find what they were expecting, and therefore did not stick around to read more.
It is a good idea to look at your keywords and separate which keywords you were found for organically and which keywords are paid for, as in a PPC campaign. If you look at the bounce rate for the keywords, you can immediately see what needs to be done. Paid keywords used in PPC campaigns with high bounce rates need to be changed. You can change your campaign to include keywords that have a lower bounce rate in order to be successful. You don’t want to spend money on paid keywords that are not converting into sales – that is a waste of money.
For organic keywords that have a high bounce rate, you need to see where that word appears throughout your site and why. Can you change it to something else? Using the keywords report can help you find which keywords are working for you and which are not.
The next thing you want to take a look at is your top landing pages report. Here you can see where visitors are entering your site. Not every person is going to go directly to your homepage. Sometimes you will have pages on your website ranking for keywords that your homepage is not ranking for, and that is normal. This report will help you to find which pages need work. Like keywords, pages with a high bounce rate need to be reworked so visitors stick around. Maybe that page doesn’t have exactly what they need, but you can still draw them in, and entice a visitor to look at another page or fill out a contact form.
Google Analytics can tell you much more too, but the tips in our series on Google Analytics will get you started. Now you can navigate your dashboard, understand your traffic sources, and take action on two of the major components of your website and search engine optimization strategy. And if you still need some assistance, let me know!
In the first part of this series, Navigating the Dashboard, we looked at the basic metrics that are highlighted on your dashboard when looking at Google Analytics. These numbers can give you a great overview of how you are performing. However, it is important to understand where these visitors are coming from. Having insight into the traffic sources that are driving visitors to your site helps you not only to gauge the effectiveness of your website and your marketing strategy, but it also allows you to take action and increase growth.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the metrics you find on your Traffic Sources report and what they mean.
Direct Traffic: This is the number of visitors who typed in your URL directly or clicked on a bookmark in their web browser. These tend to be people who know about your business, and probably have been to your website before.
Referring Sites: Other websites that are referring visitors to your website are in this category. Whether is a link, a blog post about you, or a banner ad, these websites are linking to you and referring traffic. Identifying who is referring traffic to your website is vital. This gives you the opportunity to establish a marketing relationship with some of your best referrers.
Search Engines: This category includes two major components of your search engine marketing strategy, organic search and PPC traffic. Visitors who found your website through organic search went to a search engine like Google or Bing and searched for something related. Traffic to your site through Organic Search is one of the best types of traffic you can receive. If a visitor is able to find your site by searching for a related term, the chances of that visitor converting into a lead, sale or other desired outcome is much higher than most other traffic sources. The second component of search engine traffic comes from PPC or pay-per-click advertising. PPC is another important component of search engine marketing. It allows you to place ads on the search engine by paying for certain keywords. When visitors go to a search engine and type in one of your targeted keywords, your ad has a chance to appear based on your bid (we will be covering PPC campaigns in the coming weeks)
Other: This category includes traffic from sources such as emails or special links that you set up and tag with campaign variables.
By understanding what these numbers mean, you can determine how your marketing efforts are affecting your outcomes. Are you getting most of your traffic from email newsletters? Are they coming from social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Or are your visitors finding you on search engines like Google or Bing? These numbers can help you take action to either improve a campaign, tweak an SEO strategy, ramp up social media efforts, and to plan your next move. Learn what changes to make in Part 3: Taking Action!
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that gives you insight into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. It is free and can be accessed by anyone with a Google account. You can track how visitors are finding your site and Google Analytics displays the list of keywords that visitors used to land on your site. It also tracks the popularity of pages, what pages people are entering your site with, and what how long visitors stay on your site.
Google Analytics offers fully detailed results so you or your webmaster can easily determine what search engines and visitors are expecting from your site. Thus, you can tune your site to perform better, meet search engine standards and reach more customers effectively.
Sounds great, right? But so many of us don’t even know what all the data means in the first place! As a digital marketing specialist I look at these numbers everyday for our the companies we work with. It helps drive a lot of our strategies for clients and helps us make tweaks and edits so our clients continue to see results. So to help the average user decipher Google Analytics we have put together a three-part series on the basics of Google Analytics.
Part One: Navigating the Dashboard
The Dashboard gives you the overall usage numbers for your entire website. It allows you to choose a time period and see the trends over that duration. This is very useful to get a general snapshot of how a website is performing over a week, a month, three months etc. But what do all those numbers mean? It’s not as scary as it looks! Below is a basic description of each data point on your dashboard.
- Visits: this value is the number of times someone interacted with your website.
- Bounce Rate: One of the more confusing terms for people is actually quite simple. Bounce Rate is the percentage of visits in which the person left the site immediately. Either they hit the back button, closed their browser, or just went to a different website like their home page or a search engine. This tells you that the visitor got to your site and immediately didn’t think they would find what they were looking for there.
- Page Views: This value is the total number of pages that were visited by all the visitors during the specified time period
- Average Page View: This gives you an idea of how many pages were looked at during each individual visit. For most websites this tends to average between 3 and 5 pages. However, it is important to note that when looking at the analytics for a blog, people typically will only view one page.
- Average Time on Site: I believe this value to be pretty self-explanatory.
- Percentage of New Visits: Again, very self explanatory. This value is the percentage of visits in the specified time period that were from visitors coming to your site for the first time.
It is important to note that these statistics have more weight for different types of websites. For example, the bounce rate and the average time on site are not good measures for a blog because typically a visitor will come to the site, read the latest blog post and leave quickly. However, if this is your company’s website, you definitely want to know what all of this data is.
We hope you have found this overview of the data found on the dashboard of Google Analytics helpful. To learn more about Google Analytics check out Part Two: Traffic Sources.