Google Analytics is a great analytics tools that’s not only free but also pretty complete. If you want to understand more about what is happening on your website then I definitely encourage you to get it installed.
So what does it tell you?
Google Analytics provides on an overview of your website (and other platforms like mobile Apps if you connect them) rather than a focus on individual and identified users.
There have been conversations in marketing circles about how valuable this anonymous view can be but there’s definitely value in the data if you maintain perspective about the relevant context of that data. So let’s get in to the meat of it – what metrics and tools does it have that add value?
At the high level it gives a view of traffic including number of pageviews, unique users, a geo-split so you can see which country your visitors are coming from and other useful metrics like bounce rate. A lower Bounce Rate is generally better as it means visitors are viewing more than one page when they visit your site however – sometimes a high bounce rate can be OK if you know what else is happening in your marketing world.
Here’s an example – you use Social Media to promote your team or event content and host a giveaway on your website. Your Bounce Rate may naturally be higher as you’ve been able to drive people to your website from social, they’ve entered the giveaway and then moved on. The high Bounce Rate may not look good but the context is that you’ve been able to successfully drive traffic from social. You’ve also been able to capture individual user data from those visitors who entered the giveaway.
Referrals (found under the Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals menu) provides a good view of where some of your traffic is coming from. The websites that are linking to yours and have sent users to you will be listed in this section of Google Analytics. The details of how many sessions (not the same as people!) , the bounce rate, how many of those sessions are from new users will be displayed.
The key thing here is being able to look at a time period – Google Analytics enables you to change the time period you are viewing. It also enables you to focus on a single referral source so you can plot over time whether one referral source is sending more or less traffic.
Campaigns (in the Acquisitions > Campaigns menu) is another useful part of google analytics in that you can track specific links and activities that are driving traffic to your website. For example – I can use URL builder to tell google analytics the source of the visitor or the nature of the link the visitor clicked. This helps me work out which links and sources of traffic are performing the best.
An example would be the giveaway mentioned above. I can post on both Facebook and Twitter with links that are being tracked differently thanks to URL Builder. Google Analytics will be able to understand them as different links pointing to the same page on your website. Through the Campaign section of Google Analytics I would be able to see which performed better – Facebook or Twitter.
The screenshot above gives a view of the “name” of the campaign included in the link. The screenshot below shows the “source” of where the traffic has come from.
There is a lot more to Google Analytics than the 3 sections previewed here. You have the ability to focus on conversions, do event tracking and set Goals for your web visitors to complete. For example – one Goal could be “register a new account” – the “thanks for registering” page would be your completion step and you can start to see where people drop out of this process.
To finish this “Getting Started” post I want to also povide 1 big tip for team managers and marketing people and it is this – in the settings of Google Analytics you can exclude IP addresses from your results. This is huge for giving you a more accurate view of what is happening. You should exclude all the IP addresses of your staff so they don’t cloud your analysis.