Google Analytics is a service that lets you keep track of how users interact with your website: how many visitors you get per day, how they find your site, which pages they visit, how long they stay on your site and even what they buy or whether they sign up to your newsletters.
In short, it lets you keep track of the performance and effectiveness of your website, offering you vast amounts of data that you can later analyse at your own convenience to improve your business’ online presence.
Setting up Google Analytics is incredibly simple, and a work of moments. All you need to do is add a small snippet of code to your website. Don’t worry, it’s code that’s pre-written for you, and using Google Tag Manager makes it super easy. Tag Manager will generate the tag for you, and help you keep it up to date if changes need to be made.
If you’re unsure about anything, it’s always best to talk to your web developer or digital agency who will help you figure this part out and get you set up.
Once you’re set up, you’ll have to wait a few days before data starts coming through, but when it does you’ll have a lot to explore. Let’s take a look at what to do with all that data, the most useful parts, and how you can improve your use of it.
Just having the data in front of you is not much use if you don’t know what any of it means. There’s a lot to look at, some of which is vital for certain businesses, some of which you’ll never need to look at. What’s important to you is something you learn as you go along and read more about Google Analytics, but for every small business owner, the following information is always important to understand:
Bounce Rate tracks the percentage of people who enter your website and then, without interacting with it at all, leave again. A high bounce rate is bad, because it means people aren’t interacting with your website, even to look around.
High bounce rate can be caused by a user not actually wanting to be on your site after following a link they thought they were interested in. It could be caused by a user entering your site and being put off by slow load times, poor user interface or bad site design. If you have a high bounce rate, take a look at some of these potential problems and what might be turning users away from your website.
Exit rate tracks when users leave your website, whether they’ve interacted with something or not. On a particular page, your exit rate is the number of visitors for whom this was the last page they viewed before leaving the website. A page with a high exit rate might be putting people off, or it might be the natural end of a customer journey (such as checkout confirmation). High or low is based on whether you want this to be the last page people visit on your website.
On a site wide level, exit rate is: (number of exits)/(number of pages viewed), so the lower your exit rate the more pages a user looked at before leaving the site. In most cases, lower exit rate is better, but as ever it all depends on what your site is designed to do.
Source is used to determine where your visitors have come from, and Medium determines how. One of the most common you might see is “Google / Organic” which means the user found your site on Google, using the search engine function. The various terms for Medium are:
So you might also see “Google / Referral” which means that a user followed a link from google.com, typically a paid ad.
Source/Medium allows you to find out where most of your visitors are coming from, so you know where to find them if you want to speak to them directly, or advertise to them. Using utm tags, you can also create your own source and medium text to help track specific campaigns.
Device tells you what sort of device people are accessing your website on: desktop, tablet or mobile. The reason this is so important is because you’ll need to know how people see your site if you want to make usability as positive an experience as possible.
If a majority of your users are on mobile and tablet, then you can get away with websites that look best on smaller screens, with an emphasis on touchscreens. If most of your users are on desktop, though, then you can create more complex websites with more detail per page without alienating your main visitors.
Just make sure not to completely alienate one device entirely. Even when a majority of your visitors are on mobile, desktop or tablet, it’s important that all your users can use your site functionally.
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who end up purchasing from your E-commerce store, or who complete a custom goal you create. In other words, it’s the number of people who have used your site for its intended purpose: to use your services or make an enquiry.
Obviously, this is your bottom line, so this is one of the most important metrics to know. No matter how many visitors you get or how low your bounce rate, remember to always focus on improving conversion rates to make sure that those visitors are actually contributing to your business’ growth.
If you’re running a small E-commerce store then you should know that not all conversions are equal. Although every conversion is good, knowing the average conversion value is very important for determining your website’s actual return on investment.
If you want to dig into this a little more you can also start to compare metrics, so that you can see, for example, the average conversion value compared to source/medium. You may discover that although you have more visitors from Google than Facebook, that your Facebook traffic has a higher average spend.
A goal is a way of creating a custom conversion event, such as determining when someone signs up for a newsletter, makes an enquiry or visits a specific page or set of pages. You’ll find the option in Admin > All Website Data > Goals.
A goal is most often used to track when someone visits a certain url, which you can set to be a “thank you” page after they send an enquiry, for example, which would therefore only trigger when people send an enquiry. When that’s set up, you can track these goals as conversions, creating a conversion rate for a small business that isn’t based on E-commerce.
You can also assign value to a goal, to help you determine how much value each conversion is worth on average. To do so, figure out how much a converted enquiry is worth, and the conversion rate of enquiries from your website (e.g. 1 in 10 web enquiries end up signing on). Multiple the enquiry value by the conversion rate, and you have an average value for each web enquiry, which is the value you assign to your goal.
It’s not perfect, but it allows you to measure roughly how much a goal is worth, and calculate a rough return on investment for your website’s performance.
Now you know a bit more about Google Analytics, get it set up for your site and take some time to explore the data to see how well your site is performing. Once you’ve got a feel for it, then it’s time to start looking at how to use the data you have, and how to drill down to much more detailed analytics.