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An introduction to Google Analytics

For those who haven’t used it before, Google Analytics is a free service that presents detailed website data to businesses who have created an account and installed the associated tracking code onto their website.

This data can be used by businesses to understand what they may need to improve in order to develop their online marketing strategy.

Getting started

In order to use Google Analytics, you have to have a Google Account. If you don’t already have one, this is very easily created by using the ‘SIGN UP’ tab in the top right hand corner.

Once you have logged into your Google Account, you will be able to sign up for Google Analytics:

Once logged in, you will be presented with your ‘Audience Overview’ which shows a summary of your data.

From the menu on the left hand side you will be able to use a number of options to explore different aspects of your website data.

But where do you start? What data should you be taking note of? In this article we look at five key Google Analytics tools and reports that you should be paying attention to when analysing the progress of your website.

1) Audience overview

This provides you with a quick overview of your website traffic. From here you will be able to see:

The number of website visits

The number of unique website visitors (In theory, each individual person visiting your site during the specified period is a unique visitor – but Analytics can’t always tell this accurately)

The number of total page views

The average number of pages that have been visited by each visitor

The average visit duration

The website bounce rate (The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your website having only looked at one page)

The percentage of new visits (This tells you what percentage of your total visits are from new visitors)

This overview option is helpful to get a quick summary of you website usage data. However, to learn more you will need to delve further into your Analytics data.

2) Acquisitions > keywords

By clicking on the ‘Acquisitions’ option on the left hand menu, you will be able to choose the ‘Keywords’ drop down option. Here you can choose ‘Paid’ or ‘Organic’ keywords – the phrases which have brought visitors to your website from either paid search (eg Google AdWords) or from organic search results.

You may have already noticed that ‘(Not provided)’ is your top keyword. This is because Google is now limiting the organic keyword data that businesses have access to within Google Analytics, for privacy reasons. The percentage of ‘(not provided)’ keywords has been steadily increasing and in fact Google have recently announced that  they will shortly be blocking all keyword data from organic Google search – so hold onto any historical data you may already have, as you won’t be getting any more!

3) All traffic sources

By clicking on the ‘Acquisitions’ option on the toolbar on the left hand side, you will be able to click the ‘Sources’ option. If you scroll down you will be able to see a table showing the sources of your website traffic. From this you will also be able to see how many visits you have received from each source, how many pages have been visited, the average visit duration, the percentage of new visits and the bounce rate.

4) Site content > all pages

This tool shows you which particular pages of your website are being visited. From this, you can analyse which pages on the site are the most popular. You can then ask yourself ‘What makes this page so popular?’ or ‘Why are people not visiting this page more often?’ For example, you may have tucked an important page away in an obscure section of your site, or the design of a particular page may be turning visitors off, causing a high bounce rate.

5) Setting and editing goals

Google Analytics goals are primarily used for tracking business enquiries. Your ‘goal’ would be for visitors to arrive at a page which says ‘thank you for your enquiry’ – because if they have reached such a page, the only way they could have got there is if they have made an enquiry.

So, in order to set up an enquiry tracking goal you will first need to identify and note the address of your ‘goal’ or ‘thank you’ page. If you don’t have one, talk to your web developer. Once you have created your ‘thank you’ page and set up your Goals, you can see which traffic sources & keywords have brought your enquiries.

The ‘Goals’ option can be found under ‘Admin’, found in the top right hand corner of Google Analytics.

Once you have clicked ‘Goals’ you will be taken to a page where you can ‘Create a goal’ by adding the details of your goal page and giving the goal a name.

Google Analytics and your objectives

Google Analytics is a mine of useful information and the five tools and reports described above are only a starting point. The most important thing to remember when using Analytics is to have a specific objective in mind, or a question to answer: “Why don’t I get more enquiries?”, “Where do my enquiries come from?” or “Was it worth buying that advert?”. Having such a specific objective in mind will help you to use Analytics as it is intended – as a tool to inform the future development of your website and online marketing.

Author profile: Helen Culshaw

  • Helen Culshaw has been working in the digital media industry for 14 years and founded Ascendancy Internet Marketing in 2004
  • Her particular specialisms are search engine marketing and website project management. She is a Qualified Google AdWords Professional
  • She is a regular public speaker and writer on internet marketing related subjects and is a Visiting Lecturer at the Universities of London, Worcester and Wolverhampton

 

 

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