Website Next Steps
Google Analytics is a free tool that will help you to understand how users find your site and what they do once they get there. It’s included as standard with all Edgeways sites and in this guide I’ll explain how to get started with it and use it to grow your business.
What is Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a tracking tool that gives you detailed and easy to understand information about your website’s visitors and how they interact with your site.
On a very basic level you can quickly find out how many visits your site recieved in a given period. Delve a bit deeper and you can glean some really valuable information, such as:
Location: See where your visitors are geographically, right down to their city
Traffic Source: Find out where your visitors have come from – which sites are sending traffic to your website
Content: Which pages are getting the most views
Devices: See what devices your visitors are using to view your site
And much, much more.
Why is this so useful?
If you can understand your visitors, what they’re interested in and where they’re coming from you can tailor your content and your marketing strategy to get better results and more traffic.
For example, if you’re investing time and energy on growing your social media accounts to drive traffic to your site a quick look on Google Analytics can tell you which account is performing the best. Perhaps it reveals that only Pinterest is sending significant visitors to your way. Armed with this information you can focus more of your energy on that one successful platform and save yourself some time or adapt the way you post on the others until you see a difference.
When you log into your account the first page you’ll see is the home screen. This gives you a pretty comprehensive overview of your site’s performance over given time frames (the last 7and 30 days by default, but you can change these). Most of these little graphs and charts (aka reprts) are pretty self explanatory so take some time to have a look though them – we’ll go into more detail in the next section.
The five sections in the Reports side bar will take you to more detailed, customisable reports on various different stats for your site.
Each section has an Overview page which shows you all the essential info, plus several more specific areas. We’ll just go through the overviews for the first four sections here, but feel free to delve deeper yourself.
This section shows you who is visiting your site right now.
You can quickly see how many active users you have, where they are, where they came from and what pages they’re looking at.
This section is all about your visitors.
The main graph shows you how many visits your site has received over a defined period of time. The default is a week, but you can set your own range in the date box and even break down these stats by hour, day, week or month.
The smaller graphs underneath show reports based on different stats:
- A user is a unique visitor.
- A session is a single visit to your website by one user – measured from when they arrive on your site to when they leave. If your session total is higher than your user total it means that one or more of your users have visited your site more than once.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions where the user arrived on the site and left without clicking through to another page. If your bounce rate is very high its a strong indication that you need to work on ways to keep your visitors engaged.
- Session duration is that average length of time that a user spent on the site.
You can also view the information by various demographics – language, country and city. By System (for users viewing on desktop computers) and Mobile (for users viewing on mobile devices)
In each section you can click View Full Report to see more detailed stats.
This section shows you where your visitors have come from.
Direct means that they clicked a link, often from an email or a bookmark, that took them straight to your site.
Organic search means they typed a query into google and your site was listed in the results (which they then clicked)
The behaviour section shows you what pages people visited during their session.
The Site Content tab within Behaviour is very useful. From here can see which pages your visitors arrived at, where they went and what page they left from.
All Pages gives you a full list of every page on your site and the traffic it received.
Landing Pages shows you the first page your users arrived on (you’ll notice that this isnt always your homepage). Once you know which your most popular landing pages are you can optimise them to get the best results.
Exit pages shows you which pages users left from
Click on Discover in the sidebar for a wealth of tools and resources to help you learn even more about Google Analytics.