How To Turn Google Analytics Data Into Usable Information
LAST UPDATED: TOPIC: Analytics and CRO
It’s easy to get lost under the piles of data that Google Analytics has to offer. There’s so much there you might be tempted to spend days reading it, but the real power comes from how you use that data to improve your website. Data is useless if all you do is read it, so here are a few ideas on using that data to further your goals.
Iterate Landing Pages
A good landing page is one of the quickest paths to conversion, and Google Analytics will help you determine what a good landing page is, and how it can be improved. Although it’s not going to look at your landing page and give specific advice, all the tools are there to help you figure out what needs to be improved, and whether changes make things better over time.
- Bounce rate: Bounce rate is the number of people who enter the site and leave again without interacting with anything. On your landing pages, you should certainly expect people to be clicking something, whether it’s a call to action or just exploring further into your business. If your bounce rate is high, you’ll need to look at improving the visuals on your landing page and possibly the text, to make sure you’re not discouraging potential customers.
- Conversion rate: When it comes to a landing page, your conversion rate should be your main focus. You can set up goals and conversion funnels to measure the number of people who enter your site on a landing page and then go on to convert. If it’s low, you need to look at whether your landing page is giving people the wrong impression about your service, or simply not convincing enough.
- Conversion funnels: Conversion funnels are the best way to measure the success of a landing page, allowing you to track people through the site from the landing page to final conversion. You can see where most people are dropping off, whether at the landing page or further down the line.
Look at the individual statistics for each of your landing pages, and improve them based on what you see. Give your new designs time to work and see how they improve. Keep testing and tweaking your landing pages, and use Google Analytics to measure your success.
Improve Calls to Action
Without Analytics, your only data on how well your calls to action are working is number of conversions, which is not useful data at all. With Google Analytics, you can start looking at percentages based on number of visitors, and how well new calls to action do compared to old ones. A good call to action is the heart of a good conversion rate.
- Conversion rates: Conversion rates on a page are the clearest method of measuring your call to action’s success. This is most useful on a page where the call to action can lead directly to a conversion (eg, Buy Now), but even when you have a multi-step conversion funnel, a strong call to action should lead to a good conversion rate.
- Conversion paths: If your conversion path involves more than a single step, tracking users along that path is the best way to measure the performance of your calls to action. A better call to action should see fewer drop offs, so if you’re seeing a lot of drop offs at one particular point in the path, you’ll know that a better call to action is required.
- Goals: Not every site measures conversions based on ecommerce sales. Many don’t, in fact. With Google Analytics you can set up ‘conversions’ based on the criteria that are important to you, and use those goals to measure conversion rates and calls to action. Set up your goals and get measuring.
Once you know how many visitors you’re getting compared to conversions, you can start to see how successful your calls to action are. If they need to be improved, improve them, and see how much better they perform. Keep improving them and measuring the results, at least until the cost of improvement is more than the return on investment.
Increase SERP Performance
Google Analytics can be used to measure external factors too, in a roundabout way. Although Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) aren’t the be-all and end-all of digital marketing any more, they can still be a good place to put your ‘room for improvement’ focus, and Google Analytics can help you with that.
- Bounce rate: High bounce rates can point to a number of problems relating to SERP performance. If your title tag and meta description are misleading, people might be entering the site and realising it’s not what they thought it was. It might mean that the page itself is misleading. Make sure that what the SERP shows and what the page says are aligned, and that they complement each other to convince people to dig further into your site. Watch how changes to the SERP affect your bounce rates.
- Visitors (over time): Visitors is one of the clearest indicators of SERP performance. As you improve your SEO, you should also see your number of visitors increase. The effects aren’t always immediately obvious, but take a look at performance over time, particularly after major updates from your end and Google’s, and track that compared to the changes you make.
- Page performance: When looking at SERP performance, make sure you take the analytics of each page into account separately. Some pages might perform much better than others, and you need to know which ones and why. Look at the individual analytics for each page and tweak appropriately.
- Queries: If Google Analytics is linked to Google Webmaster Tools, you can see which queries your site is being displayed for. Like all of Google Analytics, it’s not always 100% accurate, but it should give you a good idea of what you’re being displayed for, how often and how highly ranked. You can use that information to make sure that you’re being displayed for the right services, and improve landing pages, title tags, meta descriptions and performance appropriately.
Improving SEO can lead to better site performance over time, as long as you’re making improvements based on best business practices. Don’t get lost in the day-to-day performance or specific rankings, and instead look at how the changes you make affect your performance over longer time periods, and implement additional changes as appropriate.
Google Analytics can help you improve site usability for your customers by indirectly highlighting performance problems.
- Bounce rate: A high bounce rate might mean that users are being turned away based on the look of your site, whether that means it’s poorly designed or doesn’t function on their device. If your bounce rate is high, consider looking at how the design of the site might be turning people away.
- Site Speed: Site speed will show you how quickly pages are loading for your users, and is a vital target for usability improvement. A slow site is sure to turn people away. If your site speed is showing high load times, look into how you can make it run quicker to help keep customers interested.
- Devices: Google Analytics can show you the devices people are using to browse your site, split into categories of Desktop, Tablet and Mobile. Although your site should be using responsive design anyway, knowing which devices your visitors are primarily using will help you design with them foremost in mind, helping improve usability on certain devices and screen sizes. Make sure your site is most usable for the biggest chunk of your audience.
Know your site’s usability downfalls and improve it to make sure that you’re not turning customers away with poor site performance and design.