Google Analytics is a powerful tool. However, it can seem overwhelming for beginners – it provides a wide range of functions and tools and many of them seem unfamiliar. Initially at least, it’s difficult to work out exactly what it’s for and also to understand how the data it provides can be used to improve your website.
So which data is important and helpful? This article explains which data is of the most benefit to you and where you can find it inside Google Analytics. We also offer pointers on how you can use this data to make your website more user friendly, and therefore a more compelling and successful user experience.
- More about Google Analytics
- Where to find useful data in Google Analytics
- How to use Google Analytics to understand your audience
Optimise Your Content
Content attracts visitors to your site. Google Analytics helps you understand which content on your site is particularly popular, and what isn’t working so well. To view the page views for each subpage of your website,click on Behavior > Websitecontent > All Pages. There, you’ll find a table with statistics describing the behaviour of visitors to your website.
The Pageviews column shows the total page views for a set period. This is an important figure – it shows you how popular your content is. Popular posts will give you clues for new topics. Can you write more articles in the same vein for your target audience?
Look at Website Content > Destination Pages for an overview of the pages which attract visitors to your website. These are termed ‘target pages’, ‘entrance pages’ or ‘landing pages’. Popular pages in this section may differ from those which rank as your most popular pages overall, but the landing pages with the most visitors should be seen as ‘entrance doors’ to your website.
The flipside of target pages are exit pages. These are the posts and pages where visitors leave your website. The exit pages are displayed under Behavior > Website Content > Exit pages. It’s useful to look at the numbers of pageviews and page exits for a certain subpage in relation to each other.
If the two figures are very close together, you should act – analyse the exit pages more closely and ask yourself why someone decides to leave the website at this point. Once you’ve identified these weak spots, you can correct them: perhaps by adding links to related or more popular content, which might do a better job of keeping the attention of visitors to the page.
Remember, of course, that If the exit page contains Affiliate Links, such as a Test Report page, then the visitor’s exit shouldn’t be seen as negative – after all, your aim is to earn money with your site, and to do so, visitors need to click on your partner links and leave the website.
Analyse And Improve User Behavior
User behavior is becoming more and more important for good rankings in search engines, as Google’s recent updates show. Google is also increasingly aware of the importance of not only optimising page rankings in its search engine, but is also increasingly aware of how visitors behave and the quality of their user experience. Improving the user experience of your site will therefore directly help to increase the number of visitors to your website.
Length Of Stay
The length of stay for individual pages and contributions can be found in the Average Visit Time On Page column, under Behavior > Website Content > All Pages. If visitors stay for a long time on a subpage, it confirms the content is good, and that your visitors have found the information they’ve been looking for.
On the other hand, if a subpage has a relatively large number of calls, but a conspicuously short dwell time, this can indicate problems. First, check whether there are plausible reasons for the short dwell time. This can again be due to the presence of tempting Affiliate Links, but may also be due to the presence of internal links. If the page has neither of these types of links, though, the content is almost certainly not what visitors are expecting to find.
So rework the content: query again the search intention of the keyword or the topic. What are your visitors’ expectations: what are they looking for when they’ve researched the topic and have looked for a keyword? Can you further expand the topic of your page to meet these expectations? Use pages which have particualy long dwell times as an example of how to structure and present your content.
The time on site is calculated based on the time the user arrived on a subpage and when he opened another subpage. The difference between those times are the “Average Visit Time On Page”. If the user bounces (visiting only one subpage per visit) the Average Visit Time on Page will be zero seconds.
The bounce rates for individual subpages are displayed in the table under Behavior > Website Content > All pages, in the Bounce Rate column. Here, you’ll find a percentage value which shows how many visitors have left your website after visiting only one subpage.
If you’re looking at a subpage with a particularly high value, this is a clear indication that the topic or the content isn’t suited to your target group. An exception might be so called one pager websites where the entire content is on one page. The user simply cannot visit a second subpage and therefore is counted as a bounce.
Question the content critically and find weaknesses you can fix. Is there any compelling content on the website you’ve not provided internal links to? If so, add these links to lower your bounce rate. If you find subpages with particularly low bounce rates, this is a good sign. You can expand these topics with new content and provide internal links to this successful content.
Especially important are the bounce rates of target pages. Since the target pages are like the entrance doors to your website, you should optimise these to ensure you keep new visitors. Again, however, if there’s a good reason for visitors leaving, such as clicking on an Affiliate Link, for example, there’s no need for action.
The loading time of a website and its subpages has a great influence on the user experience of your visitors. Rapidly loading websites are clearly an advantage, because no one likes to wait for a website. Jump-off rates are much lower for fast-loading websites. Under Behavior > Website Speed > Overview, you’ll find the average loading times for your entire website.
In the table Browser you will find the load times sorted by each browser. If a browser has noticeably high loading times, you should look into ways to solve this. Is there an update for your WordPress Theme? Does your web hosting service have an explanation? The loading times for individual pages can be found under Behavior > Website Speed > Page Timings.
If some subpages are particularly slow, you should first understand why, then carry out an optimisation. A common reason for long loading times is overly large image filesizes. Reduce the filesize of your images and you’ll greatly improve page-loading times.
Analyse Your Target Group And Identify Potential
Audiences Visitors to your website are more than just numbers and Google Analytics offers data about the people you’ve created your website or blog for. While it’s important to acquire new visitors, you should never neglect your existing audience. Google Analytics helps you evaluate demographic data under Target Group > Demographic Characteristics. This provides information on the age and gender of your visitors: it may be general information, but it can help you draw valuable conclusions nonetheless.
Organise Content By Age And Gender
In the Age subgroup, you’ill be shown the age of visitors to your website, which can help you refine and focus your new content. Relatively young visitors under 40, for example, are likely to be interested in different topics than visitors over 40. So you can either focus more on your existing target group, or instead, deliberately focus on addressing age groups other than those who normally visit your site. Also, do you find more women or more men among your visitors? This may also be a factor that you decide should influence your content.
Interests Of Your Target Group
Which topics do your visitors prefer? This question is answered by Google Analytics under Target Group > Interests.
Under Affinity Categories, you’ll find an evaluation of certain interest groups and how strongly these are represented on your own website. This data should be taken into account when planning new content
Under Target group > Technology > Browser And Operating System, you’ill find an evaluation of the jump rate, the number of visited pages and the average session time for each browser. You should look at these numbers at regular intervals to see if your site is experiencing problems with certain browsers. You can then act quickly and eliminate any problems, before they have further negative effects.
Recognise Potential Sources Of Visitors
As well as understanding your existing visitors with Google Analytics, it’s also possible to discover the source of potential visitors, too. Under Acquisition > Channels, you’ll find the distribution of your average visitor sources. In most cases, Organic Search will form a big part of this. Under Acquisition > Source / Medium, you’ll be given more detailed information on which website the visitors have come from. If, for example, you discover Facebook is a strong visitor source, then it stands to reason you should share content at Facebook, and so on.