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8 Key Google Analytics Metrics That Matter Most To Your Business

Why Is Web Analytics So Important?

Google-Analytics-

All good digital marketers approach their work with a scientific attitude, because they know that creating an effective online presence relies on making data-driven changes to their marketing efforts.

Just like a scientist does, we think up hypotheses based on our prior experience, and then test those hypotheses over weeks and months to see what visible impact they have.

Put simply, to keep improving our businesses until they are as profitable as possible, we need to be able to measure what effect our marketing actions have.

Thanks to Google’s free web analytics tools, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing efforts are easier than ever, and in this blog you’ll learn how you can use these tools to identify:

  • Strong points in your business
  • Weak points in your business
  • Ways to boost your sales conversion rate
  • Mistakes you’ve made, and how you can avoid repeating them
  • If the time and effort you’re investing in your marketing is paying off

By being able to identify these key points, you can take the guess work out of your marketing and start making intelligent, data-driven decisions which will, over time, create the strongest possible iteration of your business.

8 Most Important Google Analytics Metrics You Need To Understand About Your Website

1. Identify Where Your Visitors Are Coming From

Knowing where your web traffic is coming from can help you work out which aspects of your digital marketing strategy are working, and which aren’t.

For example, if the majority of your visitors are being directed from social media, you know that your social media strategy is working.

However, this also indicates that you are not performing well on search engines, so you will know that you need to improve your SEO and start creating the kind of content which your target demographic searches for, in order to drive traffic from organic Google searches.

You can find out more about SEO here.

Some popular websites that link to you will send you quite a bit of traffic, so it’s important that you keep an eye out for which websites are referring lots of visitors.

You should make an effort to maintain and build upon those relationships, so that you can build more links and therefore generate more referrals from their websites.

Similarly, you can also look at which social media platforms are sending you the most traffic, so that you can work out which platforms to concentrate on, and which ones aren’t worth your effort.

Here at Grow, we often see companies putting lots of effort into their social media, just because they feel they need to. As a result, we see companies pouring their blood, sweat and tears into creating a fantastic Facebook page and filling it with great stuff.

However, when we actually look at their web analytics, we see that despite this very few people are actually being directed to their website from Facebook.

Obviously, there’s more to social media than just web traffic, but it is a fantastic indicator of how engaged your audience are, and how many people you are actually reaching.

You can also see the breakdown of new vs returning visitors. If your percentage of new visitors is too high, it suggests that your content isn’t “sticky” enough, and doesn’t give people a reason to visit your site time and again.

New vs. Returning Visitors - Google Analytics Metrics

However, if you have too high a percentage of returning visitors, it suggests that you’re not reaching enough new people.

Obviously, every business and industry is different, so there isn’t an “ideal” percentage of new vs returning visitors you can aim for, but as a general rule of thumb, we’d say that your returning visitors should make up between 15% and 20% of your total traffic.

How To Do It

Step 1: On the left hand side, click on “acquisition”

Step 2: Click on “overview” from the drop-down menu

Overview, as the name suggests, gives you a quick overview, allowing you to see how many visits have come through various channels such as social media, referrals, organic search and any email campaigns you have done.

Acquisition Overview - Google Analytics Metrics

Step 3: Click on “channels” from the drop-down menu

Channels gives you a more in-depth look at each channel, and shows you how many visitors are new vs returning, what the bounce rate is (we’ll get to that in a minute) and how long visitors spend on your site before they leave.

Channels - Google Analytics Metrics

All Traffic breaks the channels up into their parts, for example, specific emails, referrals from specific websites and social media platforms.

2. What Bounce Rate Can Teach You About Your Website

bouncing ball

In almost every page in Google Analytics, you will see the “bounce rate”. In the simplest terms, your bounce rate shows you how many people came into any page on your website, and then left without clicking through to any pages on your website. All bounces are 1 page visits.

Bounce rates can be quite hard to deal with because opinions on them and their cause varies so much.

For starters, what even is a bad bounce rate?

No one really knows, as it all depends on your website and what page you’re looking at. For example, content based pages, particularly ones which answer a specific question, will naturally have a high bounce rate, sometimes in the 90% or higher region.

This is nothing to worry about, as your visitors are coming to that page with the sole intent of getting a specific question answered. For example, if I Google “How to change the rear wheel on my bike” and go to a blog about exactly that, chances are I’ll read the blog, get the information I need and leave.

You can try to reduce bounce rates on these types of pages by including really compelling call-to-actions in the sidebars, or beneath the body of the text, which will lead visitors to other pages.

Let’s keep with our example of a blog about changing a bike wheel. Let’s say that the website this blog was on was a bicycle repair shop.

They could include a sidebar with something along the lines of “For More DIY Bike Repair Tips Check Out Our Blog” with a link to the blog, or maybe a special offer on bike pumps or other gear needed for changing a tyre.

On other pages, a high bounce rate can signal other problems with your website.

For example, if you have a high bounce rate on your home page, this is almost always a bad thing, as it shows you that people aren’t going any deeper into your website to learn about your business, products or services.

This could be caused by any number of things including, but not limited to:

1. A slow loading time

People are impatient, and if your website doesn’t load quickly enough, they’ll abandon it and take their business elsewhere.

2. Poor design and usability

If your website isn’t easy to read and easy to navigate people will abandon it in search of a website which makes sense to them. Make sure that your navigation bar is easy to use and that the layout is clean, uncluttered and any text is easy to read.

3. It doesn’t pass the “5 second rule”

Make sure that within 5 seconds of landing on your page, your visitors know exactly what it is you do.

Financial and corporate businesses in-particular tend to flunk the 5 second rule and should pay close attention to this point. Always keep it simple and straightforward and avoid buzzwords.

For example, you’d never catch a baker’s website saying “We synergise flour, yeast and salt and expose it to a dynamic, heat-based environmental paradigm shift in order to create a transformational improvement in edible carbohydrates” as no one would have any idea what they’re talking about. “We bake bread the nation loves” is fine.

4. No calls to action

If your website offers lots of different products or services, or is particularly large, people can easily become overwhelmed by your complicated navigation menu. Make it easier for them by guiding them to where they should be going.

5. It isn’t mobile responsive.

An increasingly large percentage of your traffic will be accessing your website via their phones or tablets. Make sure that your website is either mobile responsive, or very easy to use whilst on a mobile device.

How To Do It

When looking at bounce rate alone, it can be hard to identify what aspect of your website is turning off visitors and, indeed, if this is something you need to worry about. However, by looking at a number of factors together, you can begin to understand what is causing your bounce rate.

The first thing you should do is look at the time spent on the page. If the average time spent on the page is about proportional to how much content is on there, then you can be quite sure you’re your visitors are reading everything on the page and the bounce rate is not caused by slow loading times, bad design, unclear language or lack of mobile responsiveness.

Therefore, you can try decreasing the bounce rates by including compelling calls to action which will encourage readers to explore other, relevant, pages of your site.

Conversely, if the time spent on page is quite low, you can assume that your visitors started reading, but gave up and therefore left your site. This might be because:

• The content is bad
• The site isn’t easy to read
• The site isn’t mobile responsive
• It isn’t what they were looking for/ your headlines are misleading or click-bait

If the average time spent on the page is just a second or two, then that shows that visitors left almost immediately.

This can signify:

• Slow loading times
• Not being accessible on mobile
• Being very poorly designed
• Code malfunctions which mash up the site
• The page is broken / visitors are receiving a 404 message

In any incidence, it is worth making changes to your website and waiting a month or so to see what effect your changes have over time. You aren’t looking to revolutionise your bounce rate overnight, but rather slowly decrease it through small changes over a longer period of time.

3. Identify What Content Matters To Your Visitors

If you run a blog or do any other sort of content marketing, which you absolutely should be doing, it is important that you measure what sort of content works the best.

You can then try and replicate what makes your highest performing content so popular, in an effort to generate more traffic, leads and ultimately sales.

There are a number of things you can look at to work out which pieces of content are performing well:

The number of views your content gets, and the popularity of your posts will give you a good idea of what your readers want to read about.

Where the views are coming from can give you an idea of how your content is performing across the web. For example, content which generates loads of traffic from social media suggests it is being widely shared.

• You can look at how long your pages are being viewed for, to get an idea of how compelling your content is. If you’ve written a 2,000 word epic blog, but the average time on the page is just 20 seconds, you know that you need to start writing better content

• The bounce rate of each page can show you which pages bore visitors, or don’t do enough to encourage them to explore more of your site.

By keeping an eye on these sort of metrics, you can learn what your readers and customers really want to hear from you.

How to Do It

Step 1: Inside the “reporting view” find “Behavior” on the left hand side

Step 2: Click on “Site Content”

Step 3: Click on “All Pages”

This shows you all of your pages, and all of the information you need, in order of page views.

Behaviour All Pages - Google Analytics Metrics

4. Adjust the Time Range to See How Your Website Is Changing

The most important aspect of web analytics is tracking the impact your changes had made over time. It’s important that you take note of the date you made an important change, and use Google Analytics to measure the difference this change made.

You can also see how your website is performing over time. If your marketing efforts are successful, then you should see a steady increase in traffic, visit duration and visitor engagement over time.

How to Do It

You can do this my measuring important metrics by date. You can do this by selecting the range of dates you want to see data for using the calendar in the top right corner.

Adjust Time Range - Google Analytics Metrics

You can click on the calendar to open it, and you can then select the date range you want to use.

5. Setup Goal Tracking

It’s all well and good increasing metrics like web traffic and time spent on your site, but unless your visitors are actually buying your products, or are becoming more engaged with your company, it is ultimately redundant.

After all, unless your business works around online advertising, it is sales that pay your bills, not web traffic!

Therefore, it’s very important that you set up goal tracking on your website to monitor the important interactions you want your visitors to have with your website, be that making a purchase, or signing up to your email list.

By setting up these goals, you can start to compile data about the sort of people who actually buy from your website or otherwise interact with it in a meaningful way.

You can then use this data to gain insights into why they are buying from you, for example you could identify specific keywords which bring people who are more likely to buy from you. You can then concentrate your efforts on becoming more visible for those keywords on search engines.

How to Do It

Because you can track so many different goals in so many different ways, it’s hard to give a comprehensive guide to setting up goals. We’ll show you one of the most common goals which business track – mailing list sign ups.

Step 1: Go to the “Admin” panel
Google Analytics Metrics - Admin Bar

Step 2: Under “View” go to “Goals”
goal tracking - google analytics

Step 3: Click on “New Goal”
goal tracking in google analytics

Step 4: Name the goal something like “email sign up”. Select “Destination” under “Type” then press “Next step”.
Destination goals in Google Analytics
Note: The easiest way to monitor email sign ups is by monitoring the specific webpage people get directed to after they sign up.

Usually this will be some sort of “thank-you” page. Most good email platforms like Mailchimp and Aweber will allow you to set which page your sign ups get referred to after signing up.

Step 5: Under “Destination”, make sure that the tab is set to “equals to”. Then stick the URL of your “thank-you” page into the text box.

Step 6: Verify the goal, and then press “Create Goal”.

Goal Creation in Google Analytics

6. In-Page Analytics

In-page analytics is great as it gives you an insight into how your visitors actually use your website. This is important, as your whole user experience should be geared towards leading your visitors towards specific webpages in your website, which tend to be sales pages.

In-page analytics shows you where people go from webpage to webpage, and each link shows you to percentage of people who clicked on it. By looking at this data, you can make intelligent changes to how your website is put together in order to steer your visitors towards your key web pages.

For example, when we first launched this blog section on our website, we wanted to encourage readers to click through and read it. Therefore, we put the link to the blog on the left side of the navigation bar, so that it would be more prominent when people arrived on our site.

However, when we checked our analytics a month or so later, we saw that the blog was attracting more than a third of clicks from the home page, and even worse, when our visitors got to the blog, there were no big calls to action which would lead back to our sales pages for consultancy and our marketing workshops.

Blog Navigation

So, we ended up putting the link to the blog on the far right side of the navigation bar to make it less prominent, and put our core pages further to the left, so that more people would click on them.

As well as this we introduced sidebars leading to our core sales pages on all of the blog pages, so that people could easily navigate back to our sales pages from our articles.

A month later, we saw that our efforts had paid off; traffic to our core sales pages increased massively and the exit rate on our blogs dropped, with more people navigating from them back to our sales pages.

How to Do It

Step 1: Click on the behaviour tab on the right hand side, and select in-page analytics.

This will show you your webpages, with annotated links showing what percentage of your visitors clicked what, as well as other metrics like total pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page and the bounce and exit rates.

You can click through your website as you would normally to see how people behave on each of your webpages.

7. Site Speed

jet

The loading times of your webpages are a hugely important (but widely overlooked) factor in how successful your website will be.

Not only will a sluggish website irritate your visitors and dramatically increase bounce rates and reduce engagement with your site, but it will also negatively affect your rankings in search engines.

Search engines want to return the highest quality websites for each query, and a slow loading time is a good indicator that your website is of a bad quality!

As more and more people surf the web on their phones over mobile connections (which have a tendency to exacerbate slow loading times), having a speedy website is becoming ever more important.

Fortunately, Google Analytics gives you a full rundown of your website’s loading times, and also gives you actionable tips for how you can make your site faster!

How to Do It

Step 1: Click on the behaviour tab on the right hand side, and click the site speed tab.

There are now 4 different pages:

Overview gives you a brief overview of the average load time, redirection times, and connection and server response times.

Page Timings shows you the average loading time of each of your websites, ranked by the number of pageviews.

Speed Suggestions allows you to see suggestions of how you can speed up each individual web page on your website.

User Timings shows you how the loading times of different kinds of users using different devices etc.

8. Track How You’re Performing on Search Engines

For this task, you’re going to need to log into your Webmasters’ Tools account.

Google Webmaster Tools allows you to see how your website is performing on Google, giving you your average ranking on Google for a range of keywords, as well as how many people have seen your website come up on their Google search (which are known as “impressions”), and how many people have clicked through to your site after searching for a keyword.

Google Webmasters also allows you to see approximately how many links to your site Google has indexed.

You should be monitoring all of this information, as time goes on you should see a steady increase in your Google rankings, as well as increased impressions and clicks.

By looking at your links, you can also see what kind of content people find useful and link to from their own sites. You can use this knowledge to keep creating more content which will generate links and therefore increase your search engine positions.

Find out more about link building and SEO here.

How to Do It

Step 1: On your site’s dashboard, go down to “Search Traffic” on the left hand navigation bar.

Step 2: Click on “Search Queries”. You can now see where you are ranking for various keywords.

Webmaster Tools - Search Queries

Step 3: Click “With Change” to see if you’ve moved up or down in the search rankings recently. If you are marketing well, you should see lots of green arrows.

Search queries with change

Step 4: If you sell something which is country specific, you will want to see how you are ranking in your own country. To do this, click on “Filters” then select your country from the “Location” tab.

Step 5: You can see your links by clicking on “Links to Your Site”. This will give you a table with all of the domains which link to your own.

webmaster tools

By clicking on a domain, you can see all of the links from that domain to your own.

Conclusion

By using these 8 analytics methods to evaluate your website’s performance, you can continually improve your website’s performance and increase your conversions and sales!

A strong website is one of the most valuable assets any business can have, as it will constantly bring leads into your business and sell for you.

By using these tools you can learn how your visitors behave and make it much more likely that they will buy from you by manipulating their behaviour whilst on your site, as well as positioning your website in the best possible way to attract valuable visitors who are more likely to buy from you.

Web analytics is a huge area, and so this is by no means an exhaustive guide to what you can do with it. Instead think of this as more of a whirlwind tour, which shows you some of the most essential things you should use analytics for.

If you think we’ve missed out any essential analytics methods, please let us know in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Great post!
    Could you mind make one dedicated explicitly on Webmaster Tools as well? 🙂

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