Google Analytics is a free tool that Google provides. They give you a small piece of code that you can copy and paste into your website. Once the code is installed, Google will provide you with reports that summarize all of the important aspects of your website. Google Analytics will help you track data points like the keywords people are typing to find your website; the state, county or city they were logged in from, the time of day and more. There are dozens of data points that can be tracked using this tool and all of it provides useful information. Use this information to build better marketing programs and learn more about your customers.
Google Analytics has several layers of reporting. Some areas to pay attention to are unique visitors, bounce rate, referring websites, most visited pages and most exited pages as well as the keywords people are using to find your website. You can get much more complex in your analysis but in my experience, these data points provide a nice snapshot of your website performance. Let's take a look at what each of these things means.
Unique Visitors – This is a metric that tracks how many individual people have actually visited your website. It will not count multiple visits by the same person but will instead track the number of actual individuals that visit your site.
Bounce Rate – This reflects to the number of people that land on your website and bounce-off. This means that they spend less than a few seconds on your website, realized it was not what they wanted and left immediately. Bounce rates are a good indication of how well your website is designed, optimized and laid out. A high bounce rate on a specific page of content can be an indication that something is wrong. You're always going to get bounces from robots and search engine spiders that land on your website, index quickly and then leave; you'll also have bounces from incorrect internet searches or accidental clicks that may get delivered from social media websites. While there are several benchmarks to measure your bounce rate against, the official Google Analytics blog subscribers it to be normal to have up to a 40% bounce rate. Ideally, you've got much less than that, trying to get it as low as you possibly can, but 60 percent is a commonly used metric to measure a typical website bounce rate. There is also evidence to suggest that Google uses data from Google Analytics to rank sites, and sites with lower bounce rates can see their rankings affected positively.
Referring Websites – This is a helpful piece of data as it will tell you which websites, blogs, and social media marketing platforms are referring people to your website. This can help you determine which areas to focus on. For example, if you've noticed a lot of referring visitors coming in from LinkedIn, then it might make sense to spend more time sharing your content there. Of if you've noticed a certain website or blog that linked to you and is now sending you a lot of website traffic, it might make sense to find similar websites or blogs to work with to help you generate even more referrals.
Most Visited Pages – This is pretty self-explanatory and will detail out a list of the most popular pages of your websites. This can help in determining which products, services or information your consumers are most interested in. This can be helpful for a variety of reasons and can even be used to develop other marketing strategies. For example, if you notice particular interest in a specific piece of content, you might want to focus more of your marketing dollars on that specific item.
Most Exited Pages – Also pretty self-explanatory. This will help you discover what pages people view last, right before leaving your website. This can be helpful for discovering areas of your website that need improvement. Or, if the most exited page is your request a quote page then maybe you're doing something right. Either way, the data is helpful in determining what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to the website visitors you attract.
Keywords – Another area to pay attention is the keyword section. This will help you discover what keywords people are searching with and finding you for. This can be helpful in building out specific pages of your website. For example, if you notice that people are describing your products or services in different terminology (an example would be Café vs Coffee Shop) then it might make sense to dedicate a section of your website to focus on that specific keyword. If nothing else, start optimizing your website content to include some of these keywords, leveraging the data in Google Analytics as evidence that people are looking for you using these specific keywords.
Having Google Analytics installed will help you measure the performance of your website and it's been said that what gets measured gets managed. By keeping an eye on your websites performance you'll have a good idea of what is working and what can be improved upon. It will also provide clues and ideas to help you develop additional marketing strategies, products or services to serve your customers with. Google Analytics is a must and is definitely the most affordable (it's free) website analytics program available. We also believe that sharing as much with data with Google as possible is beneficial for website performance and rankings. It helps them track changes and updates that occur within your website and will even provide feedback on which areas can be improved. As long as you're following proper best practices and guidelines, the data and feedback you'll get will be far more helpful than any anecdotal advice or insight you can get from an independent marketing consultant or agency.