Google Analytics is one of the most useful services out there for anyone who has a website, especially businesses. And every business, of course, should have a website. Knowing your way around Google Analytics and having it on your website allows you to know how many people are coming to your site, and who those people are.
Among my other distinguished titles here at Rocket Pop, I am the esteemed “Analytics Guy.” As the majority of our clients know, I maintain our Google Analytics account and the monthly reports we send from it. I’m in charge of making sure each site we build and maintain is equipped to use Google Analytics, and keeping all those accounts tracked and organized for our clients.
Often that role has me explaining the basics of what Google Analytics can do, and how to read the data it shows you. So let’s take a look at a report and break it down a bit.
(Click the images to get a bigger view)
Here we have the Audience Overview, the snapshot of the primary activity on your website. You’ll see we’re looking at a June report for this particular website in the top-right. So we have a bunch of numbers there, but what’s the difference in them?
Visits is exactly what it sounds like – the straight number of times your website was loaded on any device.
Unique Visitors filters out repeat visits. This number is how many individuals (actually, how many devices) connected to your website.
Pageviews tells us how many total pages on your website were loaded. Loading the home page is 1 pageview, and every time someone moves to another page on the website, another pageview is generated. Ever wonder why news websites make you click through 5 pages to read 1 article? Pageviews.
Pages / Visit is just what it sounds like – the average number of pages viewed per visitor.
Avg. Visit Duration – see? They’re not all complicated. This is the average time spent by a user on your website.
Bounce Rate is a term you may well have heard if you’ve ever done any email newsletters. A “bounce” is when a visitor only visits one page before leaving your website. The lower this %, the more time users are spending on your website and the more pages they’re viewing.
% New Visits is another one that’s pretty easy to decipher. This measures how many visitors were visiting for the first time. In our example here, a dominant 92.15% of visitors in June were loading the page for the first time.
Those will get you started, but let’s also address some of the kinds of reports you can find in Google Analytics. As you can see, there’s quite a selection:
If you get a monthly analytics report from Rocket Pop, you’ll always see the following compiled pages in your report:
Audience Overview – what we just took a look at above.
Traffic Overview and All Traffic – these two page will give us a more precise look at where our visitors came from. Did they find us from a search engine? Or did they click a link on another page? Or did they type our URL in directly? This is where you find out.
Site Content > All Pages – here we have the breakdown of every page on your website, and how many each were visited. You can also see individual statistics on each page’s average visit time, bounce rate, % new visits, and more.
In addition to these core numbers, you might also want to see some demographic and technical information about your user base.
Demographics is where you can see the breakdown of age and gender. A natural question here is, “how does Google know that?” They explain here. Note that this is an advanced feature that must be enabled before it can be used.
Geo is where you’ll find your map breakdown of what countries your traffic originates from. Obviously, this will be primarily of use for businesses and websites that have an international presence.
Technology and Mobile – these two sections give breakdowns of how your visitors are accessing your website. Are they on a mobile device? Are they Windows or Mac? What browser do they use. This can be a useful insight when evaluating who your primary customers are.
Phew! That’s quite a bit already, and we’re far from covering the full extent of what can be discovered through Google Analytics. But this will give you a strong base to start from – and once you know how to read your analytics data, you can really start to track month-to-month, week-to-week, or even day-to-day developments on your website.
Next time, we’ll dive in to a connected but entirely different world – PPC campaigns through Google AdWords. Stay tuned!