Recently we engaged in pretty detailed evaluations of a client’s Google Analytics over a six-month period. If you are a bit of a marketing geek like I am, jumping into Google Analytics is kind of like trying to just tip your toe into Pinterest. It seldom works out quite that way. Given that, starting to evaluate Google Analytics exposes you to a firehose worth of information. There is a wealth of knowledge to be explored in each category. Acquisition, Behavior, Audience—they all have layers upon layers for you to explore. Don’t even get me started on the website flow feature that allows you to examine how visitors are navigating your site.
When beginning your journey into Google land, it can be beneficial to have a sort of plan of attack. I thought, therefore, that I would give you five key things to look for when you dig into your website’s Google Analytics.
1. Breakdown of Traffic Acquisition
It is very important to note from where your website visitors are coming. Google Analytics gives you a breakdown of traffic based on organic search, direct links (meaning someone actually typed in your URL), and referral traffic. Given the importance of credible “link juice” for SEO, you want to make sure that your referral traffic is steady, but then you also need to make sure that your referrers are sites that will help you. We have noticed in an increase in referral traffic from sites that are clearly not legitimate websites, and it is a problem that requires perpetual diligence and monitoring.
2. Top Landing Pages
It’s important to understand what pages on your website people are using to enter your website. This is important for a few reasons. First, it can give you a clue as to what people are thinking they are going to find when they visit your website. Learning how people use your website can also cue you in as to what pages you most need to keep updated. If people are landing quite regularly on a given page, you want to make sure you are showing your best side there. Finally, you want to make sure that you have a call to action particularly on the pages people tend to land on so that you can guide them to other pages of the website (like your donations page, for example).
3. Browsers Used to Access Your Site
Obviously your website should be functional in any web browser, but certain aspects of your website may work better in one browser than another. Understanding what browser your visitors most use, however, can help you make sure that there will be the best chance possible that your website will serve everyone’s needs. If your web traffic comes most from Internet Explorer in particular, you will know that you will need to be on the lookout for “buggy” aspects of your website to increase for your visitors. This can be alleviated by testing your website on a regular basis as a user rather than the owner/developer.
4. Devices Used to Access Your Site
Most notably, what you want to track here is mobile usage. If people are increasingly accessing your website from a smart phone, you want to be particularly sure that your donation form will work properly. You can also assess whether people are using Androids or iPhones more when they are navigating your website.
5. Bounce Rate
Finally, I recommend making sure you keep an eye on your bounce rate. If you are noticing that the bounce rate on your website is extremely high, you can parallel that information with what the most common landing pages are. You would be able to draw the conclusion that if people are coming to your site on a certain page and then bouncing quickly, that page somehow is not fulfilling their expectations. From there you can begin to experiment and see if you can lower the bounce rate moving forward.
Of course this is just the beginning of what you can and should look at when you delve into Google Analytics, but these five things will give you a wealth of information to start with. Have you looked at your Google Analytics lately? We’d love to hear from you!