The most common thing I hear from clients is “We don’t know how to interpret our Google Analytics”. The good thing is you’re not alone and we have a passion for helping you interpret them in order to make smart design and branding decisions.
Our team reviews Google Analytics for a single purpose. How are people engaging your brand? Here are the top three things I look at when performing a website assessment before providing direction on a new website design.
The Channel’s report is a great way to see what types of traffic sources are delivering the most people and most quality of traffic to your website. It informs us how well certain channels are performing and where to focus marketing efforts. Think of channels as paths to your site, which can be organized by type. There are 6 main default channels types, but you can also add new channels in the admin section of your account if necessary. So…what are these “paths”?
The screenshot above displays the 6 most popular channels. Organic search is always at the top followed by direct and paid search (depending on if you are running or have run a paid search campaign)
- Direct – This refers to the traffic from people who go directly to your domain. This means people either bookmark your website or type the domain directly into their browser.
- Organic Search – This refers to the traffic from people who find your website through a search engine. They’ve gone to Google, Yahoo, or Bing, searched for a word or question and found your organization.
- Social – This refers to social media traffic. Straightforward. This traffic can be from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other social platforms that your visitors might be using.
- Email – Another straightforward one. This channel pulls in any traffic that comes from your email newsletter, or from people who share your site in an email and campaign tag the link.
- Referral – Refers to traffic from other websites. Look at this channel closely. You’ll be able to see which sites are linking to you (i.e. Are your partners linking back?). Discover opportunities with other organizations that are linking to you.
- Paid Search – This refers to any traffic from digital ads. This channel also encompasses Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, Google Display ads, YouTube ads, and the like.
2. Site Content
The Site Content reporting provides multiple content focused views showing how users interact with your site content. There are four categories to review here:
- All Pages – The All Pages report provides a view of each page on your website with metrics including page views, time on page, entrances, exit and page value (estimated value of the page).
- Content Drill Down – The Content Drilldown report rolls all your pages up into the sub-directory to which they belong and provides statistics on those specific sub-directories. For example, if all your Service pages start with “/service/” in the URL, this report will combine all products into one folder called /service/. This helps you get a high-level view of different website sections and how users interact. Clicking on any path allows you to drill-down for more detail.
- Landing Pages – The Landing Pages report analyzes pages from the view of how often they are landed on (first page viewed during the user’s session) and examines metrics including bounce rates, conversions, etc. This report is great for identifying which pages have particularly high or low bounce rates, are good at driving conversions, etc.
- Exit Pages – The Exit Pages report shows a view of pages in which people exit the website most often. This report is helpful in calling attention to pages which shouldn’t be left often in order to drive improvements for those pages. It’s good to note that some pages should be left often (order confirmation page, goal confirmation page, high traffic pages, etc.).
3. New vs Returning
There is a lot we can cover on this topic. To save time, I’ll just provide you the high-level of why we look at this data. We believe the breakdown of New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors is a key audience demographic on your Google Analytics report. New visitors are people who are coming to your site for the first time on a browser or device. Returning visitors have come back to your site after previously visiting on the same browser or device (assuming they haven’t removed their cookies). The ratio of new visitors to returning visitors can be very revealing. It can show the effectiveness of your inbound digital marketing tactics. Deep diving into this category and looking at the behavioral data for these two groups provides valuable insights about your website content, structure, and design, and it can reveal new opportunities for providing value to your audience.