7 Key Google Analytics Metrics And How To Find Them


John Ring


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5/5 - (1 vote)

Google Analytics is one of the best tools out there for every marketer, business owner and stats nerd. It’s crawling with all sorts of information, more than you could imagine, even before you start setting up specialist tracking codes for goals, conversion funnels, events and so on.

In fact, there’s almost too much information. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, and completely natural, when faced with this much raw data.

For business owners, there are 7 key analytics that will inform you of how well your business is doing, and the steps you can take to improve it. They’re separated roughly into 3 main categories: Users, which is information about who is visiting your site; Behaviour, which is information about how people are using your site; and Performance, which is how well your site meets its purpose.

Users – Devices, Channels, New Users

Behaviour – Bounce Rate, Exit Rate, Page/Session, Session Duration

Revenue – Conversion rate

Keep track of these 7 analytics and you’ll always have an idea of how well you’re doing, and what areas you need to improve on.

1. Devices

Found in: Audience > Mobile > Overview

Devices are what your users are using to browse your site, split between categories of Desktop, Tablet and Mobile. Here you can see not just what devices people are browsing on, which is useful in itself, but also the behaviour of people using different devices.

Knowing which devices people use to browse your site means you know what sort of audience you’re catering towards, and how your site should be built. A user base mostly on mobiles won’t react well to having to repeatedly use the navigation menu or small UI elements, for instance, whereas an audience on desktop will prefer higher resolution imagery and more information per page.

Knowing how different users behave is also incredibly useful. Do people on mobile have a higher bounce rate? Maybe your site isn’t as mobile friendly as you thought. Maybe mobile and tablet users make up more of your sessions, but conversions are coming from desktop. It could be that users are browsing your site on mobile, but making their final purchase on desktop. If so, focus different elements of your site towards different devices to help improve your customer journey.

2. Channels

Found in: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels

Channels are where your users are coming from, split into categories of Organic (from search engines), Referral (links from other sites), Social (from social media sites) and Direct (directly inputting your URL).

Like devices, knowing where your users are coming from can inform how well a strategy is performing, and where you should be focusing your attention. If you’re putting a lot of effort into social media, for example, you should expect to see users from Social channels rising. Better SEO will lead to more Organic traffic.

If you already have high performance in one area, then you know that’s where to focus your attention with new strategies to see the best returns. Looking at Referrals and Social traffic will also help you figure out who’s talking about your site, and where you can best engage your audience.

3. Sessions

Found in: Audience > Overview

Sessions (or Visits) are the number of different times someone comes to your website. It’s your total user base over a set period of time. This number is very helpful for business owners, but can also be very harmful.

More sessions is generally better – after all, you want more people to be visiting your website. However, it’s easy to become mired down in why your sessions aren’t going up, or aren’t going up more, or are going down, or aren’t enough to begin with. In truth, while this does matter, it’s not everything you need to know.

Sessions are most relevant over longer periods of time, and in reaction to certain events. On a daily basis, they’re practically useless numbers, but over the course of a year or two you can see patterns. Perhaps sessions have been slowly climbing since you started a particular campaign. Perhaps sessions always dip in summer due to seasonal needs. Perhaps sessions have been falling, but conversions have been rising. This is all good to know, but only when compared to other analytics.

Keep an eye on sessions, but don’t let them rule your digital marketing. Be aware of how they fit into the bigger picture.

4. Bounce Rate

Found in: Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages

Bounce Rate is a measure of people who visit your site, then leave without interacting. If your bounce rate is high, it means that people aren’t using your site at all, and in many cases are probably leaving it almost as soon as they arrive.

A high bounce rate across the site is problematic, and means that something about your site is off putting. Perhaps it has poor mobile usability, or generally poor design.

More importantly, you can also look at the bounce rate for each page individually. Pages with high bounce rates have their own individual problems. Perhaps the title and meta description aren’t representative of the page itself. Perhaps you don’t offer what people are looking for.

Aim for a low bounce rate, and if it’s too high, try to figure out why people don’t like using your site.

5. Average Session Duration & Pages/Session

Found in: Audience > Overview

Your Average Session Duration can be long or short, depending on how you expect your audience to use your site. Generally, a long average session duration means people are taking more time to read your content and find what they’re looking for, which may be exactly what you want, or may mean that your site is too complex.

You can also compare session duration to pages/session to see how long people are taking on each page. Long session duration with low pages/session generally means people are reading content, while low duration and high pages/sessions means they’re flitting quickly between pages, either browsing or unable to find what they’re looking for.

Again, compare this metric to how you think people should be using your site, and to your conversion rate, then adjust your site as necessary.

6. Exit Rate

Found in: Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages

Exit rate measures when people leave your site after interacting with something. Your overall exit rate is based on number of pageviews/session, but the more relevant number is the exit rate for each individual page.

A page’s individual exit rate measures how often people leave your site from that page, and tells you a lot about which pages are turning people away. You should expect high exit rates on pages such as Contact Us or Order Complete, but if people are leaving from particular About Us pages, or the home page, then there’s a problem that needs resolving.

Look at the exit rate for each page, and determine whether it should be so high. If not, something needs doing about it.

7. Conversion Rate

Found in: Conversions > Goals > Overview OR Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview

Conversion rate is one of two things. It’s either the number of people who visit your ecommerce site and make a purchase, or the number of people who visit your site and complete a predetermined goal of your choosing.

Either way, your conversion rate is probably measuring your site’s overall performance of purpose. A higher conversion rate is better, and determines whether your site is performing as intended.

Keep an eye on conversion rate, and always seek to improve it. This is your most important metric, no matter who you are.

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John Ring


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Over the past 15 years, I've helped many international companies like Ebay, Intel, Burberry, The AA, Suzuki, Calor Gas, and Lexis Nexis as well as local Irish companies like SSE, Irish Rail and many others with their digital marketing. My role is to lead the Tinderpoint team to deliver outstanding results continuously for our clients.