Google Analytics can be an intimidating pit of mystery. But it’s also the Promised Land of data. There’s plenty of information available about your website and thus, your business, but what exactly are you supposed to pay attention to, out of all the numbers thrown at you? We geek out with this stuff so want to offer up our five best Google Analytics reports monitored on a regular basis for our clients. These offer insight into what’s happening on their website and thus, consumer interest and sales.
Our 5 Best Google Analytics Reports
Behavior > Site Content >> All Pages
To get an overall sense of what pages are interesting to website visitors, from the main landing page after login, we head to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Change the date range in the upper right-hand corner to the time period which fits the inquiry (generally a month or year), and the top ten most popular pages on your site are revealed. Here’s how to break down this information: Pageviews and unique pageviews (see below for an explanation of these) are important, but we look at average time on page and the bounce rate to tell us the visitor’s engagement with the content. To interpret this info, the positive side of these figures is inverse: The higher the time on page, the better, but the higher the bounce rate, the worse. If bounce rate is high (over 60%), this indicates the visitor didn’t find your content interesting or useful and left the page. If bounce rate is in the danger zone, review the content and take a bird’s eye view of what a stranger to your brand or business sees, then analyze what could be going on. No clue where to start? We can help with that.
Tips for maneuvering in any Google Analytics report:
- To sort any column, treat the headers like an Excel spreadsheet and click the name of the column.
- If you’re wondering what page a URL refers to, click the two small overlapping boxes next to it.
- Always base content revision decisions on a long period of time, rather than shorter.
Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
As someone focused on sales and never wasting money, this is the best Google Analytics report. The Acquisition data indicates how potential and current customers arrive on the website. That way, you can double down on the effort in that marketing channel (or not). All of the columns interest us here, especially New Users, Session Duration, and Goal Completions. One tidbit to know: “New Users” is more of a general sense rather than an exact number since the data is slightly skewed. Google deems New Visitors as those navigating to your site for the first time on a specific device. If you visit a website from your desktop computer at work, and then visit the website again from your iPhone, Google Analytics would record you as 2 new users. In addition, if you clear cookies from your computer often, you would be counted as new after clearing.
Acquisition Report Explained:
- Users: People who have visited the website at least once during the time period
- New Users: People who are visiting the website for the first time OR repeat users who have cleared their cookies.
- Sessions: Interactions one user takes within a given timeframe, generally 30 minutes. Indicates the number of times visitors opened the website and drove around, bought, reserved, etc.
- Pages per Session: How many pages happen in one user session
- Session Duration: Average amount of time a user spent on the website
To use this report to its advantage, be sure to set up Goals, found under the Admin menu. More on Goals in a future blog post.
Audience > Overview
A strong contender for the best Google Analytics report, this brandilicious report provides a snapshot of who is coming to your website. Although it’s not 100% complete (individual privacy settings can prevent Google from gathering some info), it’s a good start to gain 20,000-foot view of your customer. Start by changing up the date parameters in the upper right-hand corner – we usually use a full year for analysis. Important tidbits in this report are: 1) City, where you can find out where people are coming from; 2) Operating System, which can indicate what platform people are cruising your website from – keep in mind that iOS = iPhone; and 3) New Visitor/Returning Visitor tells you how many new customers you’re attracting. (Advanced tip: cruise up to the top of the report and click Add Segment, then Mobile and Tablet Users to see how many of the audience is coming from mobile traffic).
Audience > Demographics + Interests
These reports dig down a little deeper into the people who are on your website. Demographics provides the basis age and gender makeup of your visitors. The Interests report, if you have it turned on (which we recommend you do), is limited in detail, but it adds another piece of the persona pie, giving you television -like affinity categories that large brands use to determine advertising buys. In-Market Segment is composed of folks who are actively searching and comparing your product/service. Affinity targeting analyzes someone’s overall interests, passions, and lifestyle to get a better sense of their overall identity. For our clients, we use these reports to develop customer personas, build social media content, and to get an overall view of who a brand’s customers are.
Behavior > Site Speed > Overview
This report is a bit on the technical side. But with Google’s new emphasis on fast page speed downloads and ranking only fast-loading websites in their search results, it’s crucial to know these numbers. On average, to make your web visitor’s experience a good one, you want your page to load quickly in the browser. No one wants to wait… and wait… for a page to appear. Think about it… the faster the page download, the lower the bounce rate. Google knows this and wants to reward people who make their websites easy and fast to use. This report tells you the average page load time of your website. Ideally, it should be under 4 seconds across the board but especially on mobile. Higher than that, you need to make haste to fix this or your page ranking might be in jeopardy. Running slow? To find out what is going on with your website, test it here. Don’t worry, your web developer will understand all the results and can fix them. The most important report is the mobile one since people are quickly migrating all their internet business to the phone. Strive for 90% or above… it’s not easy but achievable.
So there you have it… the five best Google Analytics reports in a nutshell. Stay tuned or sign up for our Insights feed in the footer for more info in the future.