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The 6 Google analytics metrics you need to know about

by Michelle Alexander
on 11 May, 2017

“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” – Gordon Gekko


Google Analytics is one of the most sophisticated analytics tools to grace the digital age. And the best part is, it’s free! When it comes to understanding your visitors, reviewing your campaign effectiveness, or benchmarking your performance over time, it’s the platform of choice. But with a mountain of data at your fingertips, knowing how to crunch the numbers and draw insights that can transform your business is very, very important.

Now I know crunching numbers isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but, when it comes to improving your businesses ability to generate more ROI from your website, the numbers are vital. cIf you’re new to Google Analytics, knowing how to use it and what to track can be a little overwhelming. This is why I’ve created this quick guide to help you progress from a fresh beginner to an analytics pro.


Setting up your Google Analytics account

In order to collect the data, you need to first set up a Google Analytics account. Google has a handy guide that walks you through the correct setup process. Note: You will need to have at least 1 month’s worth of data before you can start analysing and reporting to get an accurate picture of how you are performing online.

Once you have set up your account, it’s time to create a calendar reminder to track and evaluate monthly. The process of constantly reviewing your data will enable you to evaluate your tactics, improve your results and perform better online.


The data you will find at your fingertips

When diving into Google analytics, you will see just how much data is collected just by installing the tracking code. To get started, here is a quick explanation of the 5 main tracking categories in the left-hand-side of the analytics menu:


  • Real time: This is where you can view your website’s or app’s performance live with each visit recorded within seconds. This is most useful for one-day promotions and monitoring the immediate effects of freshly publishing a blog or social media post.
  • Audience: This is where useful data about the demographics, behaviours and interest of your visitors is collected by Google. There are a further 8 sub-tabs under audience that all help to inform you more about the type of visitors coming to your website.
  • Acquisition: You can measure and gain insights about your Adwords campaigns performance here. This information will be vital to ensure you monitor and optimise your ad spend.
  • Behaviour: The most important metric you’ll find here is the landing pages. Not everyone arrives through your homepage- this tells you which pages on your site are bringing the traffic. Data here can help you discover what landing page content keeps users engaged and sounds the alarm where content issues may exist.
  • Conversions: This tab can be used to measure and benchmark conversion goals. By setting up goals such as purchases or opt-ins, you will be able to establish the funnel of where your customers are converting.


Expert advice: If you’re purely interested in local traffic, make sure you filter your Google Analytics report to only show traffic from your country. This will help reveal more accurate data on how your website is performing in it’s operating country.


The 6 key metrics to track

Keeping track of your online performance is essential to ensure that your website is fulfilling its purpose. Running a monthly report is the best way to identify trends, set benchmarks and improve your site. Below I share how to find, track and interpret 6 important metrics using your own Google Analytics account.


Metric 1: Number of visits

You’ve invested both time and money into your website so it’s important to measure if people are finding it. This is where you’ll be able to quantify the traffic coming to your website.


Where to find it:
Audience > Overview > Sessions


How to use it:
Focus on keeping this statistic growing. This is one of the factors search engines will take into account when ranking your website. If it’s getting attention, Google will take note and you will be ranked higher organically.

If your website is receiving low traffic, you’ll need to reassess the strategies you’re using to drive traffic to your website and make sure you are optimising your SEO and SEM.


Learn more about SEO: Google has a simple SEO starter guide to help you get started.


Metric 2: User Demographic

Understanding who your target audience is vital to ensure you are producing relevant content that attracts them. User Demographics will paint the picture of the users your content is attracting. There’s a lot of data at your hands in this section and it’s really up to you how to use it. Looking at this tool you can narrow down the age and gender group and even get personal and uncover interests, relationship status and education levels.


Where to find it:
Select Audience > Demographic


How to use it:
Your website is a powerful marketing tool and it needs to be continuously fine-tuned to stay that way. Are you attracting the traffic you are trying to target? If not it might be time to employ a strong content marketing strategy to ensure your website has relevant content, remains consistent and hits the mark with your desired target market.


Metric 3: Landing pages

Landing pages are a great tool for driving inbound marketing and capturing new leads. Analysing which landing pages are bringing users to your site and what content is attracting them can help inform what your audience is interested in and how your campaigns are performing.


Where to find it:
Behaviour > Landing pages


How to use it:
Monitoring each individual landing page’s performance is essential to ensure it is fulfilling its purpose. If your pages are generating less traffic than you had hoped, it’s time to put some marketing solutions in place to power your landing page to generate a gravitational pull to your intended audience. If audience conversion is the issue, try some A/B testing to see what call to actions and content combinations are working best.


Metric 4: Network referrers

Network referrers is where you’ll gather which channels are directing users to your website. It shows where your traffic comes from and splits out organic, direct, referral and social. Having the ability to drill down and see how all marketing efforts are driving traffic will help identify which tactics are working and where you can explore options to increase your traffic referral from that channel.


Where to find it:
Acquisition> All Traffic> Channels


How to use it:
Find out which channels are having an impact on your website traffic and identify which ones have an opportunity to refer more. For example, if you have low organic traffic, SEO improvements and a content strategy can help improve your traffic. If social media is having low referrals, perhaps consider how frequently your posting and how you could make your content more effective.


Note: a powerful marketing strategy should have both social media and content marketing embedded. Measure what material/ themes are most popular on the web and what channels your audience are coming from. Push out more of the most popular information to your audience to entice them to click on you and find out more.


Achieve more with SEO: How to optimise your site for user intent


Metric 5: Page bounce rate

Your bounce rate is one of the key indicators of your website’s performance. While measuring your website’s average bounce rate is important, it’s equally as important to know individual page bounce rates. These can be your landing pages or other important pages your traffic is being referred to. Which pages are performing well and which ones might need some help?


Where to find it:
Select Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Set primary dimension to Landing Pages > Review the bounce rate column


How to use it:
It’s important to note that a bounce rate isn’t always bad. It’s possible they found what they wanted, especially if it was your contact details. If your website aim is to generate calls then a bounce rate doesn’t always mean disaster. Also, items such as popups can affect your bounce too.

It can, however, indicate your website’s issues. Remember first impressions count, if your content isn’t making an impression or your page is poorly designed your analytics will show it with the numbers.

A rule of thumb, if your bounce rate is above 40.5%, there is some room for improvement. Things to evaluate may be:

  • Your value proposition: is it a clear statement on what you do and for who?
  • Your website’s content: Have you optimised for search intent and is your on-page SEO aligned to attract the right audience?.
  • Your site load speed may be lagging
  • Your brand is not resonating with your audience
  • Your website is not responsive and user-friendly for mobile users.


Metric 6: Conversion rate

Your site conversion rate is more or less any marketing/ sales goal you want a customer to fulfil on your website. For example, subscribing to your blog, buying a product or downloading your free ebook.

Learn how to set up your conversion goals here.


Where to find it:
Select Conversions > Overview > select Source > View Report


How to use it:
Following this metric helps identify your very own winning formula that will result in more conversions. Discover what activities are resulting in conversions and which ones are not. If your conversions are low, it’s time to consider some powerful ways to boost your online conversions.


Ready for action?

Continuous improvement is a commitment all businesses should make to stay relevant and ahead of their competition. This motto remains true for your digital presence. Your website is an important investment and valuable touch point for your customers. This is why it’s important to make sure it’s in it’s best shape and excelling at its job.

If you need help evaluating your businesses performance, our team at Thirst Creative can help to spot the numbers, give expert recommendations and improve your online performance.

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