When it comes to getting a better understanding of your audience, highlighting top content and understanding users behaviours, Google Analytics is the best (free!) tool to provide you with answers to burning questions. Yet, so many people shy away from it.
Why, you may be wondering? When talking to people about data, Analytics and insights often feel daunting or scary. Yet, getting started with your account is much easier than you think.
How much time do you realistically think you can spend on your GA account?
It’s time to set a recurring date with it in order to gain more insights about your audience. Google Analytics should become your best friend from now on. Google Analytics is a free tool that anyone can and should install on their website to have a more in-depth view of their traffic and this can also help with improving SEO.
Google Analytics is typically divided into Accounts, Properties, and Views. Depending on your needs, you might have different accounts for different businesses. You can create unique properties within that account for different websites, or even if you want to experiment with your GA.
Let’s assume you only have one account with one property: it’s worth setting up for this property at least three views. A view lets you define a unique perspective of the data collected within your property.
By default, you have one unfiltered automatically generated by the website. Ideally you should not apply any configurations to this view since it is the backup for your data. For the purpose of testing it’s always good to have a test view, to assess the impact to the data when you change your filters, goals and settings.
Acquisition, Audience and Behaviour are the most valuable reports for you.
Hypothetically you should already know your audience (even if it’s always handy to see how much your targeted audience reflect the actual one), but the Audience report Gives the most direct and trackable data for you to see who’s landing on your website (such as browsers, geolocation and devices), whereas the Acquisition section you’ll better understand how people find your website.
From email, to social media, to search engine optimisation, these reports will help you identify which channels and tactics are generating awareness for your website.
Looking at the highest traffic drivers is a start, but it doesn’t tell you whether the traffic was qualified. In other words: did the traffic help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your website?
Have a look at your Acquisition and Behaviour sections and check if the numbers you see reflect what you expected your website to be, and if people are actually landing where you’d like them to. What is your blog telling you?
Google Analytics has a variety of reports, yet there are a few you can get started with:
Audience report: the Audience section of Google Analytics is an extensive one, with no fewer than fifteen sub-sections sitting within it, most of those with several different reports.
Acquisition report: Want to know if people are actually clicking on your ads? That guest post you published earlier — is it generating any traffic to your website? How about your SEO strategy? Is it actually working? This report will tell you exactly where people are coming from.
Behaviour report: this report shows you more about the behaviours of the visitors of your website. What are the top pages and posts on your website? Which pages do people land on, and which ones are the pages people exit from? This report shows you how people interact with your website.
What are the most important metrics for your Google Analytics?
- Dimensions: characteristics of your users, their sessions and actions.
- Metrics: quantitative measurements of users, sessions and actions. Metrics are numerical data.
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of users exit your site on the first visit.
- Funnel: defined process that you expect users to complete prior to conversion.
- Landing Pages: all of the pages through which people entered your site.
- Pageviews: This is the total number of times a/any page on your blog has loaded within the specified time frame (it defaults to the last 30 days). This is actually the easiest number to reference to add to your media kit
- Unique Visits/Users: This is the number of individual IP addresses that have visited your blog in the specified time frame. And it’s a safe bet that one IP address = one person so your uniques equal to how many people have visited your blog.
- Visits/Sessions: This is how many times a person visits your total site. So it’s not counting the pageviews, but how many times people are coming to your site at all.
Setting goals for your website
Goals are pretty straight forward in their purpose: the help us setting some achievements and quantify the results of our hard work. We can divide goals into macro and micro conversions.
Macro conversions are your primary blog objectives. Micro conversions are the ‘relationship building’ activities that lead up to a macro conversion (the ultimate goal!).
As an example, if you are promoting a course online, and the macro conversion is to sell tickets. A related micro conversion could be a signup for a newsletter about the series of events.
When a user signs up for a newsletter it’s an indicator that they want to stay connected. It gives you an opportunity to continue to market to the user and hopefully convert them into attendees.
Destination Goal is a page on your website that users see when they complete an activity. For an account signup, this might be the “thank you for signing up” page. The good thing about this is that you can set up trackable thank you pages without having to learn Coding 101. Other goals can be used to measure user engagement. Engagement can be measured based on the amount of content that people see or the amount of time that they spend on your site.
Pages per Visit Goal is triggered when a user sees more or fewer pages than a threshold that you specify.
Duration Goal is triggered when a user’s visit exceeds or falls below a threshold that you set. For each destination Goal that you create, you can also set up a funnel.
A handy and visual tool is the Goal Flow report. The Goal Flow report lets you visualise the path your visitors take through a defined process towards a goal. In the report, each box represents one of the funnel steps you create for your goal. We call these boxes “nodes.” The final node you see in the report represents the goal.
Now that you know the different kind of goals you can set up, brainstorm 5 different goals you’d like to set for your GA account: think about where you’d like people to land, how much would you like them to engage, and maybe even which audience would you like to attract.
All in all, we recommend checking into your Google Analytics every 30 days and at least analyse bounce rates, top pages and growth of your traffic. Another essential piece of the puzzle is setting up your SEO correctly to get more people to find your website.
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My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.