5 Google Analytics Metrics You Should Track
As an old Management adage goes, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Quantifiable evidence gives us valuable insights about what is working well, and what could be improved. Granted, there are some things we can’t measure (like a satisfied customer’s smile), but nonetheless, the numbers behind the purchasing process of the satisfied customer could give us valuable insights.
Lessons from the Google Analytics Summit
It is this power of data that was the backbone of October 1st's Google Analytics Summit 2013 held in Mountain View, California but live streamed on YouTube for audience everywhere. The recorded version of the livestream is still available on Youtube.
The theme of the summit was Access, Empower, Act. Collect the right data, pass it on to the right people, empower them with the right tools to analyze the data and act on the insights. Simple, right? However, as simple as that sounds, data can be so overwhelming that we might not know what is most important for us and what is not. This is why we have this simple guide that focuses on key metrics in Google Analytics.
A Simple Guide to Analyzing Key Metrics In Google Analytics
This guide assumes you've already set up Google Analytics for your website. If you haven't, don't fret; the process is very simple and straightforward. Google Analytics' Help center outlines the process in easy-to-follow steps here.
The format of this guide is in a Q & A style. The answers to the questions are the metrics you should be running.
Q. How do visitors find you and from where do they access your page?
A. Traffic Sources
It is important to know how your visitors find your site so that you can determine which platform is the most effective one to reach out to your audience. Our blog receives most of its traffic from the following sources:
Based on the numbers above, we can discern that of the 348 people that visited our site over the last month, 74.71% of them found our blog by searching for certain keywords that directed them to our blog.
According to the Vital Design Blog, a good traffic search rating should be above 50%. Here is a breakdown of what each traffic source means:
Organic Search Traffic: Found your website using certain keywords. This metric shows the effectiveness of your keyword usage and Search Engine Optimization.
Direct Traffic: Typed your site's URL into the browser.
Referral Traffic: Clicked on a link on another website that linked back to you.
Social: Found your website from social media platforms on which you have a presence.
In addition, the Traffic Sources metric shows the location of the visitors, the browser used and even the mobile devices used to access your website. Again, it all comes down to what metrics are important for your decision making.
Q. Which is the first page they visit? A. Landing page
Knowing which pages are first visited can help you convert leads into followers. By analyzing which of your pages are the top landing pages, you can optimize them to include calls to action that will encourage your visitors to interact more with your site.
For example, one of our top landing pages is 5 Steps to Improve Your Website's User Experience (UX) and our top keyword searched is user experience. By knowing this information, we know that our visitors are interested in improving user experience and hence we try to put out more user experience related content.
Another metric to note is the Bounce Rate from the Landing Pages. A high bounce rate could mean that the visitor just views that one page and does not interact with the site any further before leaving your site altogether. The aim therefore, should be to reduce the landing page bounce rate by having prominent calls to action that will push the visitors to visit other pages in your site.
Q. How much time do they spend on your site?
A. Average time spent
Knowing this data will help to understand how much time your visitors are spending while engaging with your site. Longer times spent are good for sites such as blogs. This means that the visitors like your content, are reading it and also reading other content linked to a specific post. On the other hand, shorter times are preferable for online banking because it ensures a higher level of security when visitors can access the site and complete their tasks quickly.
Q. What do they do when on your site?
A. Popular Content
Google Analytics makes it very easy to analyze which type of content works best for you. A higher number of page views indicates that the content is popular. The aim should be to have a high number of page views and low bounce rate. This kind of data shows that your most popular content is encouraging your visitors to explore other pages in the site.
Q.Which is the last page they visit before leaving your site?
A. Exit Pages, Exit Rate, Bounce Rate
Exit Page is the last page that a visitor views on your website before completely leaving your website. The visitor could have already visited multiple pages or could have just viewed that one page.
The Exit Rate measure the percentage of visitors who visited multiple pages in your website and exited your website through a specific page. For example, in the screenshot above, our top exit page is 'How to improve your website's user experience in 5 steps'. This page was viewed 156 times in the past month and had 74 exits meaning that visitors to our site exited through that page for a total of 74 times. Therefore, the Exit rate is 47.44% meaning that of the 156 page views, 47.44% were exits (Formula: 74/156 %).
This information helps us to know that the visitors found what they were looking for and left after being satisfied with the information they got. For a main website, the ideal exit page should be a Thank You Page that comes up after the visitor makes a donation or signs up for a newsletter, for example.
The Bounce Rate measures the percentage of visitors that landed on a single page and left the website without looking at any other pages. Thus, Bounce Rate is typically measured for Landing Pages.
The Bounce Rate of 4.11% for the 'Prezi: A new way to make presentations' shows that 4.11% of our visitors viewed the post and left our blog completely. This could mean that the visitors found our post through search sites, read it and after finding the information they needed, they left. While there is no correct or ideal Bounce Rate, a rate of over 50% could mean that your site is not converting leads and needs some tweaking.
Google Analytics has a number of other metrics that are important and need to be analyzed. Two things to keep in mind when analyzing metrics are:
1. No metric should be analyzed independently of others. For instance, just observing the exit rate and not paying attention to bounce rate would give inaccurate results. All the metrics should be put into context and analyzed accordingly for accurate results.
2. The metrics are not generic to all types of websites. For example, some websites may focus more on the Page Value (the value of a page in monetary figures) while others (like our blog) focus less on revenue and more on how many visitors we get and which types of content are popular. Therefore, only you can decide which metrics are most important to you and build goals around the same.
Do you use Google Analytics? If you do, which metrics have you found to be the most useful? If you currently don't use Google Analytics, we hope our post has convinced you to start using this powerful tool soon.