What distinguishes between a common and advanced usage of Google Analytics is the way the data is being used. For basic use of Google Analytics, it is enough to look at the following numbers and stats and do nothing:
- The number of daily website visitors (check the Google Analytics Dashboard).
- The top sources of traffic, so you can determine whether most of your website traffic is coming from search engines, social bookmarking sites or referral websites. You can get this information by clicking on "Traffic sources."
- Which keywords are used by visitors to get to your website when they are coming from the search engines. You can find this information under Traffic sources –> Keywords.
- Which pages of your website are the most popular. You can find this with Google Analytics under "Top Content."
You should also have the following skills:
- The ability to copy and paste Google Analytics code into all of the pages in your website for which you want to monitor traffic or visitor behavior.
- The ability to spot whether the existing content serves the right visitors. This can be easily interpreted by using % Bounce rate as shown in the dashboard.
Advanced techniques require not just looking at those data, but deriving actual information about it. This tutorial will teach you how to get the most out of Google Analytics to help you gain the benefits I’ve listed below. (Note that, although not all advanced techniques are covered here, I will discuss them in future tutorials):
- Maximizing traffic to your website.
- Targeting the correct visitors to your website.
- Maximizing sales for your website.
- Knowing if you are targeting the right country, or whether your targeted country is getting you some substantial traffic to drive sales.
- Using the advanced analytics data to determine whether there are some problems or browser incompatibilities affecting the user’s experience of your website.
- Accurately determine if your website’s overall content is good or convincing enough for users.
- Setting up basic conversions
Okay, let’s tackle the most important components first.
There are several tools available on the Internet that promise to increase traffic. Be warned; a lot of those tools end up causing your web site to be penalized in the search engines because some of them do not use the approved or acceptable methods of increasing traffic.
If you like to maximize traffic and you have a Google Analytics account for your website, the first thing you should check is this pie chart in the Dashboard:
Do not get bored with the numbers; you need to interpret the chart beyond that. It is a fact that if your website is not getting 60% to 90% of website traffic from search engines, then you are missing a lot of high traffic opportunities that could easily translate to sales or conversion at your website.
Why? It is because the search engines are massive sources of traffic. And even if you asked why they are massive sources of traffic, it is simply because a lot of people use them to find information. It is being taught even in primary schools that if you need to find information on the Internet, you just need to use search engines. This is basic.
Other important things that you need to know are the top three significant search engines, so that you can prioritize:
- Google (www.google.com): 82% market share.
- Yahoo (www.yahoo.com): 9.39% market share
- MSN/Live/Bing (www.bing.com): 5.43% market share
Therefore, if you see your stats and the percentage of total search engine traffic is below 60, you need to implement search engine optimization strategies on your website. Search engine optimization is a method of driving traffic to your website from the search engines by improving your site’s position in the search engine rankings for your targeted keyword.
A word of caution: there are a lot of SEO companies today. Select those you can trust and with an entirely clean history in handling customer accounts (you can call their previous or ongoing clients to check).
You’ve wasted a lot of traffic if you do not target correct visitors to your website. Bear in mind that getting a high amount of traffic is not always the correct search engine marketing strategy; you need to determine if your content matches exactly with what your visitors are searching for.
How can you do this? Closely observe your site’s % bounce rate and the average amount of time your visitors spend on your site. Without getting into technical formulations, all you need to learn is that a high % bounce rate is not desirable.
To translate this into concrete terms, say you have a bounce rate of 90 percent. This means that 90% of your site visitors will immediately bounce back to another domain instead of looking or digging further on your website to read content. This is sad news for your website. It means two very important things:
- The information they were immediately looking for was not there when they landed on your page (they may be coming from search engines such as Google or referral websites).
- You have a confusing navigational structure and page-specific information such as titles, or images, which may look immediately misleading to any visitor.
If the average time on site is less than a minute, it says that every visitor will not stay longer than one minute in your website.
Fortunately, there is a solution. Using the data under Content –> Top Landing pages and Traffic sources –> Keywords, start asking these questions:
- Is the content on my top landing pages exactly relevant or matched to the top keywords under "Traffic sources –> Keywords"? If not, any visitors that land on those pages will find content that does not match their query, thus increasing the chances of their clicking away (and increasing your site’s bounce rate).
- Am I providing enough useful content? If you have a web page that can serve around 500 to 1000 words of content, it is enough to match the reader’s attention span, thus encouraging them to stay longer on the site.
This is often the least familiar use of Google Analytics. It’s a more advanced technique. Using this method, you will be able to spot problems with your website that result in a poor user experience. Let’s get started…
Check to see if you have some serious browser incompatibilities.
Go to "Visitors" –> "Browser Capabilities" –> "Browsers." Click each major browser used by your visitors and compare the bounce rate and average time on site. If, for example, the bounce rate of your visitors using Internet Explorer is around 80% while for those using Firefox it is only 30%, that’s a clue that something is wrong. It’s especially true when visitors using Firefox stay longer on your site.
Try to open your website using Internet Explorer to see what’s wrong with it. Most likely you will see some browser incompatibility issues.
Check to see if your site loads very slowly.
All you need to do is to navigate to "Visitors" –> "Network Properties" –> "Connection speeds," and again compare the bounce rate among those standard Internet connection speeds.
If your site loads very fast, you can see a lower bounce rate even for visitors that are using dial-up connections. Be happy with it. But if you see the bounce rate for visitors using dial-up to be substantially higher than those using DSL, then try to make sure your pages load faster, even with a dial-up connection. No one likes to wait very long; most visitors are very impatient with it comes to loading times.
Determine if your visitors are coming exactly from the country you are targeting.
Under "Visitors" –> "Overview" you can see the traffic trend chart. Click "Map Overlay" Geo-location Visualization
See sample screen shot below:
You can then see the traffic coming to your site from several nations. In this case, if your targeted country is not at the top in the list, it means you have to do some kind of geo-targeting as part of your existing search engine optimization campaign.