What are your visitors doing on your site, where are they coming from exactly, and how are their behaviors while on site relevant to your company and its services or products…Understanding your web traffic and the data associated with the users scrolling through your site is imperative, at least if you want to stay competitive and know when you may need to tweak your web presence accordingly.
The only way to measure your site activity, at least effectively, is with Google Analytics. The behemoth that is the search engine Google certainly has created the optimal platform for understanding everything about your site and its relevance to your business. Now you just need to know where to begin. Here is a down and dirty primer to help get you started…
Setting Up Your Analytics Account
Upon creating your Google Analytics account for your business’s site, you will be given a tracking number beginning with the letters UA. This needs to be embedded in your site so that the folks at Google can keep tabs on your activity. Many ‘drag and drop’ style sites make this process extremely easy, as they tell you precisely where to cut and paste this tracking ID. Wordpress users can actually opt for a plugin to install Google Analytics. Either way, this tracking number is necessary for gathering that information that will provide you the key to understanding how the world has embraced your website.
Reading Your Analytics
The easy part over, now it’s time for you to start decoding the data that Google collects. Breaking it down every way possible, the Analytics report will give you insight into how audiences are reacting to your pages, how much time they spend with each section, even what country and/or city users are trickling in from. Pretty much anything you wish to know about online engagements with your website, Google Analytics will tell you. It’s simply a matter of understanding how to read it and knowing what to look for.
The Audience Overview. Let’s get to the heart of the matter first. Your audience, those treasured users who could become potential clients, the potentials clients who could become repeat customers and, in a way, spokespeople for your brand. Of course you want to know everything possible about the people actually looking at your site. So how does Google break this segment down for you:
- Sessions. This basically shows how many times your site has been visited within a given period of time, including both unique and repeat visitors.
- Page views. The total number of pages visited during a given period.
- Session Duration. This is a particularly important one. How long are visitors sticking around your site? While you may have a high number of users, if the average session duration is only 2 seconds, then how effective can your site really be…
- Bounce Rate. A critical number in that it tells you how many visitors are turned off after the landing page versus those who venture further into your site as they’ve been captivated by your highly engaging intro.
Acquisition Overview. As the name suggests, this is a report detailing where you’re getting your visitors from. This provides great insight into what methods are proving most effective as far as actually driving the traffic to your site. From PPC to social media, the acquisition report helps you dig deeper into what exactly is getting you found, seen and ultimately, visited.
- Social. Are your page hits coming from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? Knowing what social media platforms are proving most compelling, in that users can’t wait to see what more you have to offer, can be a great boon to your overall marketing strategy.
- Direct. Simply put, these are the people arriving at your site directly from your URL.
- Referral. Visitors coming off of other sites, links and blogs rank in this category. The more referral sites you have, obviously the better for your business.
- Organic. The mecca of all inroads to your site…the almighty search engines. This represents those who are coming to your website via organic search through Google or Bing for example.
Real Time Overview. This is what’s happening right now, the moment you are typing, the instant you are perusing your Google Analytics report. Great for checking the effectiveness of certain promotions or advertising displays, a real time overview lets you know essentially what works and what doesn’t. For instance, suppose you post an announcement on Twitter. Now you want to see if anyone actually responded. Simply log in to your Google Analytics and—drum roll—check out the corresponding results. No results—now you know you may need to tweak your approach a bit to maximize the impact.
Additionally, maybe you want to try and calculate traffic during a given day or time. Are more viewers checking you out Saturday night or is your busiest time Monday morning. Real time reports can definitely be useful.
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool when placed in the right hands. 9 out of 10 businesses are going to require this information in order to stay focused, stay competitive, and of course, stay profitable. There are numerous marketing experts and analytics gurus out there who can assist your business in establishing an account and interpreting the data.
Freelancer.com can give you access to a host of highly talented professionals for whom Google Analytics is second hand. Post a project today and refocus your efforts as you learn to take advantage of all that Google Analytics has to offer!