If you are a website owner there are numerous tools that you need to use.
One of the most important ones is Google Analytics.
When it comes to traffic and various user engagement data, you simply cannot beat it.
Although traffic data may be misleading you get a much clearer picture when you consider other stats that this tool provides.
In that regard, GA doesn’t only show you how many people visited your website. It also shows you what they think about it.
Because of this (and some other epic functions) Google Analytics should be a part of your daily routine.
Here are some of the most popular functions and data you can get from it.
Data ranges (Audience > Overview)
Before I mention anything else, it is necessary to point out this filter.
Google Analytics has data ranges allowing you to focus on particular periods of time.
For example, you can get stats for previous week or previous months. If you wish, you can also check particular dates in the past.
Filter feature is positioned in the right upper corner of “Audience Overview” tab
By default, GA will show you the data for the last month. You can easily change it up and focus on different dates.
This filter is crucial as it shows you the impact of various projects.
It can show you how much traffic you had during a certain period or point out some other valuable info.
Data range filter is especially important for noticing trends and how your website performed over a longer period of time.
Traffic (Audience > Overview)
This is the basic data you can get in Google Analytics.
Traffic is represented with а blue line described as “Sessions”
But oftentimes it is not the most important one.
Why? Because traffic doesn’t show the actual conversions.
It is mainly used as a way to present your visibility in Google.
Websites that are ranking for numerous keywords will normally have high traffic. That doesn’t necessarily mean that their company will be more profitable than the one with less traffic.
In a nutshell, traffic is a measurement of online visibility and popularity.
As you can see this page also has some general user engagement data such as average session duration and bounce rate.
However, if you wish to understand these numbers better you should visit the following tab.
Site Content (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages)
As I mentioned, pageviews and total visitors is just the initial layer.
In order to comprehend this info better, it is necessary to analyze user engagement data of individual pages.
Site content breaks them down and helps you analyze what is working and what isn’t.
Your homepage (/) will usually generate the majority of views and entrances
These stats show you how long does a person stay on a particular page. Also, whether they leave (bounce) after visitng just one page.
This is measurement of content quality.
There are entrances and exits as well.
They show you how many people entered the website from a particular page and how many of them left it from a particular page.
In a way, this can show you the most popular pages (those with most entrances) and least popular ones (those with most exits).
Have in mind that sometimes the page with most entrances can also be the one with most exits.
Visitors can simply visits one page and leave after reading it, fulfilling their goal.
So, exit data may seem confusing at times.
Keywords (Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages)
Keywords are probably the second most important data in Google Analytics after traffic.
If your SEO is good, the majority of people who reach your site will come from Google.
In that regard, they will have to type a particular keyword that will lead them to it.
This screen shows your keywords and how much traffic you get from each one of them.
With this information you can tweak your content improving pages that aren’t getting enough exposure.
It also tells you what visitors are looking for within your industry.
If a set of related keywords is much more lucrative than another then you should create more content on these topics.
One of the most important jobs of an SEO expert is finding profitable keywords.
If you’re constantly creating content that isn’t being read then you should definitely change your strategy and try some other keywords.
Location (Audience > Geo > Location)
Majority of people who use Google Analytics completely disregard the location factor.
Truth be told, it is an advanced feature and as such, not a focal point of website owners’ analysis.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that this data can be useful for adapting your strategy.
If you have a product or service that is very interesting in certain countries, you can capitalize on this pattern and adapt it to local culture increasing your conversion rate.
At the same time, these tendencies can be useful for determining which other markets you can penetrate.
Location stats can sometimes be misleading.
This is why Google Analytics provides additional data such as e-commerce conversion rate in order to help us understand how profitable it is to stick to that market.
Technology (Audience > Technology > Browser & OS)
When we talk about SEO, we usually focus on Google.
In reality, there are numerous ways to access a website whether we are talking about operating systems or browsers.
This is why you have a technology screen.
Technology screen helps you establish how visitors are accessing your website (from Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, PC or Mac).
Besides “Browser” and “Operating System” you can also see what “Resolution”, “Screen Colours”, “Flash Version” visitors use when accessing your website
Although this doesn’t seem important at the first glance and in theory shouldn’t concern us, there is an interesting reason why you should study this data.
Different technology will show your website in a different way.
For example, you might be losing visitors who access from Safari just because there is some glitch.
Here, you should mainly be concerned about negative trends.
They may indicate that your website isn’t working properly with certain technology.
If such problem persists you can notice it and fix it without losing any visitors in the long run.
This is much better than constantly losing potential customers because something is not working properly on their computer.
Behavior flow (Behavior > Behavior Flow)
Here is one of the most astonishing functions of Google Analytics.
You’ve probably asked yourself where do visitors go after entering yours website.
You’re curious where they land, where they exit. With flow charts you can easily discover that.
“Behavior Flow” shows you where people land, where do they go after that and how many people drops-off during each stage of browsing
There flow charts give you numerous data regarding visitors’ movement.
First, you can see entrance points. After that you can see how they move around.
With it you can establish what the most popular pages on your website are and which pages have the highest bounce rate.
Certainly, this can help you discover patterns allowing you to focus on a particular content, modifying the things that do not work.
Behavior flow is especially important for e-commerce websites as it allows their owners to track users movement and discover why a visitor hasn’t purchased.
Engagement (Audience > Behavior > Engagement)
I already mentioned that user engagement is very important.
Google Analytics provides several tabs from which we can observe user behavior.
One of them is engagement.
It has two main tabs: session duration and page depth.
Session duration breaks down all the sessions on the website and shows how long an average visitor stays.
There are several session duration categories and for each one of them there is “Visits” and “Page Views” columns.
“Sessions” shows the total number of visits while “Page Views” shows the total number of pages that have been visited during these sessions
Page depth is used to show how many pages an average visitor sees during one visit.
It is a stat that presents visitors’ activity and how much they are browsing.
For instance, if the “Page Depth” is 19 and there is only 1 “Session” that means that the total number of “Page Views” will also be 19
Referrals (Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals)
You can get traffic from various sources.
Oftentimes, we are not even aware where this traffic is coming from. This is why we have a referrals tab.
Let’s check out the Sources tab.
Referrals tab shows you the site that are sending traffic towards us. They have a link pointing towards your website.
There are also some additional stats such as visits, pages per visit and average session duration.
Together, this data can show you the quality of traffic that we got from that website.
If the traffic is good, we can contact the website owner and try to get some additional links in order to boost traffic quality and improve our SEO.
The second tab is Landing Page.
“Landing Page” shows you the pages where referral visitors land on
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to your most converting landing pages and try to improve them even more. This can be done by:
- Adding more content to them (making them longer and more in-depth)
- Improving your TF-IDF performance (giving Google the words it wants to see and thus to rank higher in SERPs)
- Adding images and videos and better the user engagement metrics within these pages
Site Speed (Behavior > Site Speed > Overview)
Besides user engagement, responsiveness is another factor that every website owner should take seriously.
Your website needs to have good architecture in order to be fast enough and mobile-friendly.
With the site speed tab you can analyze one of these stats.
“Site Speed” is usually a static component but this can quickly change if you start getting a lot of traffic to your pages
There are several AVERAGE stats you can check on this page such as:
- Page load time
- Redirection time
- Domain lookup time
- Server connection time
- Server response time
- Page download time
Needless to say, all these numbers should be as low as possible.
Site speed is something that has direct impact on user satisfaction.
By itself it doesn’t mean that much.
However, if your visitors are dissatisfied with website speed they will likely leave sooner than they would, resulting in bad user engagement stats.
Of course, this will all impact your SEO at the end.
Social Traffic (Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages)
Nowadays, social data is becoming increasingly important for Google.
The biggest search engine puts a lot of emphasis on users’ feedback.
Links are still very powerful but they do not actually show you whether people like something or not.
Yes, you definitely got a link back from a powerful domain but that content might not sit well with actual readers.
This is why we need to turn to social data and things such as landing pages.
Have in mind that the social traffic tab shows the cumulative traffic from all social network sources
Social landing pages show the pages that get the most traffic from social networks. In a sense, it shows us content that went viral or at least performed well on social platforms.
These pages may have received a lot of links too due to their popularity.
Nevertheless, they also managed to become very popular among the readers stimulating them to read and share.
Social Traffic tab shows you which content sits well with your users.
If a certain type of an article is showing a lot of promise you will naturally continue pursuing the same form of content.
Social Network Referrals (Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals)
While social landing pages show us the page on which people land when coming from social networks, network referrals show us from which social network people tend to link out. For example, it can show us how many links we get from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
By using social network referrals and social traffic we can easily establish the connection. It can save you a lot of time as it tells you which social network is the most effective for your business.
In-depth analysis of social traffic
Social users flow (Acquisition > Social > Users Flow)
Next social option is monitoring users’ flow when entering your website from a social network.
Unlike “Behavior Flow”, “Users Flow” starts with social network instead of landing page
There is a good reason why this flow graph was invented in the first place.
Google constantly places emphasis on social aspects.
According to the company, signals from the social networks will become more and more important for future SEO.
Although this flow is much more simplistic it helps us understand how people interact with the website upon reaching it from a social platform.
Goals (Conversion > Goals > Overview)
Goals tab is one the most important reasons why you should use GA.
Goal conversion tab gives you the percentage of visitors that completed various goals (for example: buying your product, subscribing to newsletter, etc.)
Normally, driving people to certain pages and persuading them to complete goals can have a profound impact on your SEO and profit in general.
As a website owner you would like to lead them and persuade them to buy from you.
Why are they so important?
By setting up goals and monitoring them you can determine where conversion fails. Also, you will be able to focus on the pages that convert the best for you.
If conversion is low on certain pages this means that you need to modify them in order to increase their conversion percentage.
Exit Pages (Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages)
Exit Pages tab helps you analyze the pages from which visitors usually bounce off.
“Exits” refers to the number of times visitors exited your website from a particular page
The main issue with this stat is that exits don’t help us by themselves.
They usually need to be coupled with time spent on website.
We also need to consider the amount of links and shares that a page got.
But even if a page has a high bounce rate, you shouldn’t delete it unless the topic is irrelevant.
Best thing you can do is to modify the content so you don’t lose traffic for that keyword.
Site Search (Behavior > Site Search > Overview)
Nowadays, all websites have a search bar.
Depending on the size of your website and amount of content you have, this bar will be more or less frequently used.
If you like a certain website and is has a lot of diverse content, it might be hard finding just the thing that you need.
This is why you need to use a search bar to find the articles that you’re interested in.
Number of searches isn’t directly connected to the bounce rate.
If your visitors don’t use the search bar that doesn’t necessarily mean they instantly bounce from the website.
However, bigger websites with lots of content will always have more internal searches than the smaller ones.
Analyzing this tab can help you discover what your visitors are searching for within your site.
Of course, if you lack such content and there is a high demand for it, you should definitely create pages around these topics.
Frequency & Recency (Audience > Behavior > Frequency & Recency)
This data is used to determine how often your visitors return to your website.
It has two main tabs: Count of sessions and Days since last session.
Let’s start with count of sessions.
“Count of sessions” shows groups based on the number of sessions a visitor made. If the count is 1, that means that the visitor came to your website only once. “Days Since Last Session” shows you how many days have passed since the visitor had their last session
Days since last sessions shows us the frequency of visits. It tells us how often users visit the website.
This is your loyal audience.
If someone returns to your website multiple times, they must like reading it, right?
Higher numbers indicate that you have a lot of loyal visitors who regularly return.
Devices (Audience > Mobile > Overview)
Mobile traffic is crucial for websites nowadays.
And it’s importance will only be growing.
This is why you have to check the origin of your traffic and how your visitors usually reach your pages.
Devices tab shows you which devices has your website been accessed through.
If you’re getting a lot of traffic from tablets and your site is not optimized for them, you might be missing out on a lot of opportunities.
It also gives detailed user engagement information which sometimes can be an indication of an issue.
Real Time (Real Time > Overview)
Lastly, I would like to mention the real time screen.
On this screen you can see various data such as: “Top Referrals”, “Top Social Traffic”, “Top Active Pages”, “Top Locations”, “Top Keywords” and “Page Views” which happen in real time
Real time shows you website data in the very moment you’re checking it.
A lot of stuff is included, but unfortunately, due to the nature of information, it is a time waster.
Instead of sitting in front of your computer and watching the numbers, do something useful.
You can always go back and analyze them once in a while instead.
Google Analytics is an incredible tool.
No matter what kind of a website you have it will be your best friend for years to come.
A good thing about this program is that it is rather easy to use even with its complex and numerous features.
You can easily find explanation on every page preventing you from wandering too much.
This article will always help you orientating quickly.
With just a little bit of practice and exploring you will get an in-depth knowledge on your website.
How often do you use Google Analytics? What is your favorite GA feature? Share it in the comment section below!