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How to Use Google Analytics

Knowing how many people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from and what they do when they’re there is one of the key elements to running a successful website. If you don’t have this information, it will be impossible to optimise your site in any meaningful way and enable it to generate revenue. In order to access this information, you need to set up a Google Analytics account and integrate it into your website. The information that follows will guide you through the basics of how to use Google Analytics, and the sort of data you can gather once you’ve set it up.

The best part about Google Analytics is that it’s a free service, yet it provides a wealth of detailed and accurate statistics relating to your website’s usage. You can not only use it to get data on visits to your site and find out which pages are the most popular, but also – if you have an ecommerce site – to track conversions and measure how much money your site is making you.

How it works

After you’ve created your Google Analytics account you’ll be able to access a tracking code that needs to be copied and pasted before the tag on every page of your website. This code is unique to your site and is activated when anyone lands on it, sending information about your site’s usage back to your Google Analytics control panel. All this information is then processed into graphs which will visualise all your site’s vital stats like number of visitors, where they’ve come from and how much time they spend on your site. If VU built your site, we would have added Analytics at the time of launch.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ll see after logging in to Google Analytics is the main dashboard and your audience overview. On the left there’s a navigation panel where you can drill down into all the different dashboards, the most important ones being Audience, Acquisition, and Behaviour. These views will allow you to find out more about your audience, how they found you, and what they looked at while they were on your site.

The wealth of information on offer from Google Analytics can be overwhelming at first, and initially it’s best to focus on understanding a few key stats and what they mean to your website and the success of your business. Below are four essential things to look at when you’re starting out.

Referrals

To access the analytics about your referrals, click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. The Referrals report is all about traffic that has come to your site through other websites. The more traffic you get from quality referral sites the better as this will send signals to Google that your site has value, i.e. that it’s worth linking to.

Organic Search

The other key source of traffic you’ll want to investigate using Google Analytics is Organic Search. Like referrals, this can be accessed through the Acquisition dashboard. In this view you’ll be able to see what people searched for in Google to get to your site, and which pages they landed on. Although the search term for most traffic will be listed as ‘not provided’ as a result of changes Google made to protect users’ privacy in 2011, if you have enough traffic you’ll still be able to gather useful information about how people are finding your site in Google Search.

For the search terms you can see, you’ll be able to tell whether people are finding you through the keywords you want to be ranking for, and how engaged they are by what they find on your site. If the keywords listed aren’t relevant to your site or business goals then it might be time to think about optimising your site for more relevant keywords. If people are finding you for the right search terms but don’t hang around for very long, you may want to look at improving your content.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is an important measurement of how engaged people are with your website. A high bounce rate basically means that most of your visitors arrive on your website and then leave quickly with clicking on anything. Although it will change depending on your website and your industry, a healthy Bounce Rate should be around 40%, with 70% being the point where you should seriously start looking at how to improve it.

Visitors

Looking at Referrals and Bounce Rate stats will give you a good indication of how popular and engaging your site is, you’ll need to drill down into the audience overview menu to get an insight into who is actually visiting your site. Key things to look at in this view are the physical location of your audience, their behaviour, and the technology they’re using to view your site.

If location is important to your business you can look at where your visitors are coming from by clicking on Audience > Geo > Location. You’ll be presented with a world map indicating where people are visiting your site from. Click on an individual country to find out more about visits in that region, and select Users > City from the drop down menu to pinpoint where visitors are located.

In the Behaviour view of the Audience menu, you can see how many people visiting your site are new, and how many are returning visitors. One of the first pie charts you will see when logging into Analytics is New vs Returning users, and while this on its own isn’t very useful, by looking at this information for each separate channel you’ll be able to see which channels are better for attracting new visitors and which are better for increasing visitor loyalty.

Adding a segment, by clicking on the “+” icon at the top of dashboard, for new and returning visitors will allow you to see where to focus your efforts whether you’re looking for new, old, or returning customers.

Every site Vu builds is integrated with Google Analytics so we can monitor exactly how well your site is doing and work out what needs to be improved to maximise your return on investment. The key features listed above just scratch the surface of what’s on offer, making it one of the most powerful tools available to analyse website visitors. If you have any questions about how to set it up, or use it to market your business, get in touch with one of Vu’s SEO experts today.

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