Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to get insights into your website users. It can help fine-tune your website and think about where you can make improvements to fit in with your website goals.
If you’re a web developer, it can help you make informed decisions on where to focus your development efforts, on your client’s website.
That being said, Google Analytics can be totally overwhelming when you logging in for the first time. There is a ton of data available, but there’s a good chance you’ll get confused by all the information that’s thrown out at you. And fail to see the most useful data that can help you with your website’s goals.
Here is a list of 13 things you can learn from Google Analytics about your website visitors.
1: How are users finding your site?
Go to Acquisition > Overview to see the different ways people are finding your site.
The key metrics to note:
- Social: Info about users who are finding your site through the social channels.
- Direct: Info about those who go directly to your site by typing in the site URL in the browser.
- Organic Search: info about the people searching for you in the search engines.
By default, google shows you the last week’s data. You can change the date range from the top right drop down. To view where the traffic came from all of last year, set the date range to last year and click ‘Apply’.
2: What sites are sending traffic to your site?
Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals to see the different sites that are sending traffic your way through outbound links.
You can increase the row number to see more results on the page.
You can click the sites name from the results to see the exact page on their site that referred to your site.
You can find out what sites are referring you the most traffic in the last year by changing the date range from the top right and click ‘Apply’.
Takeaway: You can nurture those traffic sources and build better relationships with them. This will also help you understand where you need to focus your marketing efforts. What kind of content you need to be writing more of and what kind of content you need to be writing less of.
3: What do the users do when they get to your site?
Go to Behavior > Overview to see where people are going on your site and what pages they are exploring on your site.
4: How do the users click through the different pages on your website?
Go to Behavior > Behavior Flow to find out how the users are interacting and going through the various pages on your site.
It’s basically a visual representation of the path the users are taking through your website.
A landing page is the first page that your users land on when they visit your website. It is not always your home page.
You can change the default Landing Page option to see the website traffic from a specific source, medium etc.
For example, you can select Source option to see where people are coming from and track how they move through your site.
Takeaway: Knowing this flow will help you understand on which pages you need to add the most important information such as an opt-in form. It will also help you prioritize the changes you are planning on your website.
5: Which pages are the visitors first coming to on your site?
Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages to find out which page on your site they are landing first. HINT: Not everyone comes to your home page first.
Takeaway: ‘/’ means the home page. You can learn about the Bounce rate and also find out the % of visitors who landed on that page that ended up converting into the goals you have set up for your site. Reviewing the Bounce Rate and Conversion Rate will help you understand what changes you need to make on your page to make them engaging for your visitors while also helping with your conversion goals.
6: Which pages are the most popular to your users? What are the top performing blog posts on your site?
Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages to find out which pages and posts are viewed the most on your site.
You can look through the results to see the posts and pages that are viewed the most. This will show you the blog posts that have been VIEWED the most last year. They could be older posts that started to get traction last year, not necessarily blog posts that you wrote last year. There is a good chance that your older posts are viewed more because they got time to get indexed by the search engines.
Takeaway: This can help you plan more content in a similar category that’s popular on your site based on the results. You can add upgrades or opt-ins for the most popular content, plan a course around the popular content category etc. You can refine the content if its anything related to tech and you know there have been recent updates to the technology.
Conversely, you can also identify the worst performing pages and blog posts on your site and maybe rework the content, remove the blog posts or stop publishing posts in that category.
7: Where are the visitors viewing your site?
Go to Audience > Geo > Location to find out what part of the world are your website visitors.
Takeaway: Are they in the same location as you or all over the world? This will help you decide if you need caching plugins installed? If your website visitors are from locations with low-speed internet access, web performance is something you need to prioritize.
If you are a local business, are you getting visitors from the local area? If not you need to improve your SEO.
8: What are the demographics of your visitors?
Go to Audience > Demographics > Overview to find out more about the demographics of your website visitors such as gender and age range
Takeaway: Are you attracting the right demographics on your website? This can help with color choices if you are planning a website redesign. Based on the age range, you can decide if you need to focus more on web accessibility.
9: What type of visitors are coming to your site? Are they first time users or returning users?
Go to Audience > Overview to find out more about your audience type.
The key metrics to note are- The number of users, the sessions and the bounce rate.
By default, google shows you the last week’s data. You can change the date range to get a better picture of how the site is performing. You can see the spikes in the graph which indicates when a newsletter is sent or a blog post is shared on social media.
Takeaway: If the users are not returning and you are blogging actively, this means you are not marketing your blog to the right audience or the content you are writing is not speaking to their pain point.
10: What type of devices are your visitors using to check out your website?
Go to Audience > Mobile > Overview to find out more about what devices your visitors are using to check out your website.
Takeaway: Are they using mobile, desktop or tablets? Depending on the type, you can determine how important it is to have all the features show up on your mobile site and provide the best experience on all devices.
11: What browsers are your visitors using to check out your website?
Go to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS to find out more about what browsers your visitors are using to check out your website.
Takeaway: If your client is reporting an issue that she is seeing in an older version of IE but her google analytics doesn’t show any IE visitors, you don’t need to sweat about that problem and can focus on higher priority tasks.
12: What keywords are your site visitors searching for before they land on to your site?
Go to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages . You’ll find the landing pages that visitors are first landing on your site. Select a page or post from the results to see the keywords people used before they landed on that page.
Takeaway: You will know what keywords you are ranking for and what needs to be improved or tweaked in terms of your site SEO.
13: How are the goals you set up, performing?
Go to Conversion > Goals > Overview to see how your goals are performing and learn more about the goal completions.
You can select the goal from the list you have set up and see how they performed over the months.
In this case, I set up a ‘Destination Goal’ that tracks when a visitor arrives at the ‘Thank You’ page when they submit the contact form. I wanted to find out how many folks that visit my contact page actually sent me a message through the form. You can set up goals order confirmation pages and add to cart pages, opt-in thank you pages etc.
Go to Conversion > Goals > Reverse Goal Path to find out the pages the users got to before they completed the goal. You can trace back to the two or three pages the users browsed before they completed the goal you are viewing.
Go to Conversion > Goals > Goal Flow to get a visual representation on how the users clicked through before they completed the goal.
Takeaway: Analyzing your goals are super helpful if you are guest posting or doing Facebook ads and wanna know which sites are bringing in the most subscribers, purchases etc and where your efforts are making the most returns.
Q for you: Do you use Google Analytics to learn more about your website visitors? What’s your favorite matrix to track in Google Analytics?
Leave a comment below and let me know.