Google Analytics is easily the best analytical tool for websites. It is completely free yet shows you nearly everything you need to know about your website’s performance. Because of how much Google Analytics has to offer, beginners often feel overwhelmed the first time they open it up. It can be difficult to know where to start and which metrics to track. To help you avoid the confusion of Google Analytics, you’ll find a quick guide on how to make sense of it below. You’re about to learn that it isn’t as complicated as you may have thought!
Use tracking codes
First thing’s first: you need to let your Google Analytics account know which websites and pages to track. You can do this by inserting a Google Analytics tracking code into your website’s script. If you’re not very familiar with your website’s code, you can use Google’s Tag Manager, which will keep all of your tracking codes in order for you.
Set goals to track conversions
To evaluate the performance of your website, you need to set goals. Do you want to attract a specific number of visitors? Do you want a certain number of sales? Or do you want to get people to sign up for your mailing list? Whatever your goals are, you can set them up on Google Analytics. Once you do this, you can track your progress and see how many conversions you’ve made.
Follow website trends
One of the main benefits of Google Analytics is that it shows trend lines for any given metric during any given period. To understand how your website is performing in the long run, you should rely on trend lines, not just real-time reports (which will be covered in the following point). The main metrics to check out are:
- Number of visitors (the exact number of people who visited your website: if someone visits your website five times, they’re considered as one visitor);
- Number of sessions (the number of times your website was visited, including multiple visits made by the same user);
- Average time on website/page;
- Bounce rate (the percentage of users who exit your website as soon as they click on it);
- Organic traffic (the number of visitors who visit your website organically through search engines, not paid advertisements);
- Paid traffic (the number of people who visit your website through paid ads).
These 6 metrics are a good place to start, but you should monitor as many relevant metrics as you can. By performing a trend analysis on these metrics, you can make conclusions as to which strategies work for your website and which don’t.
Follow real-time reports
Real-time reports refer to your website’s current situation, and this report is usually the first thing to pop up once you sign in to Google Analytics. It shows the number of visitors your website currently has, the top pages that visitors are on, the sources they came from, their location, and lots of other information.
Real-time reports are useful if you want to see how your audience is reacting to a specific action you took, such as releasing a new article or a new advertising campaign. However, if you want to get a general picture of your website’s performance, you should focus on long-term trends, not just real-time reports.
Monitor your audience
By clicking on the audience tab on Google Analytics, you can figure out the main demographics of your visitors, including their age, location, gender, and even interests. This will help you understand who your main visitors are and whether they match the audience you intended to target. By considering the characteristics of your audience, you can make appropriate changes to your marketing strategy.
Monitor your main sources of traffic
It’s important to know the top sources of your website’s traffic. To check them, go to behavior > overview > choose a page > click on secondary dimensions > select acquisitions > select sources. By doing so, you should be able to see the main sources of traffic for a given page. By knowing your main sources, you’ll know which campaigns to focus on most.
The best thing about Google Analytics is that you can see how your audience reacts to specific actions you take. This allows you to spot mistakes and areas to improve, as well as strategies that are working well. Don’t be afraid to experiment with these actions and constantly switch up your strategy. It’s okay to make mistakes: mistakes are the only way that you’ll learn to improve.
Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.