The relevance of online marketing continues to grow as more brands have experienced groundbreaking growth after committing to different internet advertising strategies. The importance of search engine optimisation has become an essential part of every marketing campaign. But not just that, brands that are all out to increase revenue are engaging in more internet marketing endeavours lsuch as PPC and email advertising.
At the heart of all this, is one powerful tool that helps advertisers track, monitor, evaluate, and improve their website’s performance. Google Analytics has long been a great tool that expert online marketers can’t seem to do without. However, the tool is still underused by many brands. This can be the real reason why such businesses are always trailing their competition.
Google is the largest search engine on earth and your business stands a chance to do better if it’s optimising for Google searchers. This requires engaging in serious SEO and PPC strategies and both involve a lot of tracking, monitoring, and in-depth analyses. All of these are features that you’d find in Google Analytics. If you’re yet to incorporate the use of this tool in your online advertising processes, or simply don’t use it as you should, then this guide is for you.
Google Analytics Explained
Google Analytics is a highly effective tool for bloggers, webmasters, businesses and brands alike. By using this tool, your marketing team can uncover an enormous amount of data about activities that are occurring on your website and that you can utilise to improve your business development and online marketing strategies.
The tool is so powerful that you’ll be able to streamline certain processes to specific audiences which will result in higher conversion rates. Its back end is divided into eight sections including: Dashboard, Intelligence, Shortcuts, Audience, Real time, Conversions, Acquisition, and Behaviour. Almost every section contains a sub-section of its own with tools that can provide a huge amount of data. However, not all sections of the tool are crucial for marketers and advertisers. The most crucial sections are the standard reports which include Acquisition, Real-time, Behaviour, Conversions, and Audiences.
Some terms that you’ll come across in Google Analytics include:
Users: these are web surfers who have visited your website within any date range that you select. It comprises new and returning visitors.
Bounce Rate: this is the percentage that represents the number of people that exited your website from the first page they entered.
Sessions: this is a period of time that a visitor is actively interacting with your website.
Dimensions: these are attributes that describe your data in Analytics. For example, session duration, exit page, and browser are known to be dimensions.
Metrics: these are numerical statistics that measure each dimension’s characteristics.
How to Set Up Google Analytics for Your Website Right Now
If you want to stay on top of what goes on with your website and track data closely in order to better optimise your web pages for higher conversion and sales, then you should set up a Google Analytics account for your website. The steps are straightforward and after that, it’s just learning how you can deploy the full resources of the tool to your advantage.
To set up your account:
- Sign up on Gmail and log into your account
- Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ in your browser
- Navigate and click on the sign up button
- You’ll be guided to provide the following information: your name, the name of your website and its URL, the industry your website is developed for, as well as your time zone, among other details
- At the bottom of the page, click on the button that will fetch your tracking ID
- Accept the terms and conditions
- A code snippet will be generated for you by Google once you complete your sign up process and submit your information. You just have to copy the code to every web page contained in your website.
Google Analytics Reports Explained: How and Why to Use Them
With Google Analytics, you can obtain a range of insightful data like the number of web users that visit your site, how they interact with different web pages on your website, their online behaviors, the performance of your website, as well as the number of conversions your site has achieved.
Google Analytics reports are key sections in the tool that will arm you with these important metrics and more. They are designed to analyse your website based on several specific parameters to give you streamlined records, accounts, and metrics of different aspects of your website as well as your users at a selected period of time.
There are five main reports in Google Analytics that provide these items of information. Understanding them will help you navigate the tool, uncover important metrics about your site to give you a clear insight about your performance, as well as see to it that you can interpret the data uncovered to apply the appropriate adjustments and changes to your website.
Real-Time Reporting in Google Analytics
Real-Time Report in Google Analytics helps you track and monitor what’s taking place on your website as it happens—in real time. Any of your site visitors will be eligible to appear on the Real-Time report if they have initiated a page view or event anytime within the past five minutes to your checking the section in your Analytics. This differs from other forms of reports, where a 30-minute window defines every session.
The report is broken down further into the following subsections:
Overview: this is the report of what’s happening at a glance. It covers data, such as the number of visitors currently on your site; the top places visitors are viewing your page from, top sources of social traffic, top active pages, top sources of referral traffic, and lots more.
Locations: This information page provides more in-depth data concerning the part of the world where your site visitors are viewing your page from. First, you’ll see the country but you can delve deeper into the particular region they’re logging in from.
Traffic Sources: this data shows how your users got into your site. This includes whether they’re coming from a search results page, social media, through email, or directly.
Content/Screens: this shows the particular page that users are currently on. Screens represent the particular screen for mobile apps.
Events: If you have used the Google Analytics’ Events feature to set up custom events on your website, then this tool will help you monitor the top ones as they occur.
Audience Reporting in Google Analytics
The Audience report section of Google Analytics presents you with data related to your site visitors to give you more knowledge about how they react with your site. This section is a vast one as it contains not less than fifteen sub-categories:
Overview: this sub-section shows you a glance of your website’s visitors. It gives information on users, sessions, unique users, bounce rate, Pageviews and many more.
Active users: this page shows you data related to users and how often they interacted with your site. It could be 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, or 1 day.
Lifetime Value: this section was developed in 2016 and rolled out in 2017 for e-commerce operators to monitor the behaviours of their users.
Cohort Analysis: a cohort of site visitors is any group of users grouped based on a date. For instance, you could have a cohort that includes users based on the date of their first session or a category of users who carried out transactions within a set time period.
Audiences: this sub-section allows you define a particular kind of audience you want to track. It will be populated with data when you make your configurations.
User Explorer: this report gives you the option to separate and evaluate individual user behaviour rather than aggregate behaviour.
Demographics: this shows you how your site visitors of different ages and genders behave on your web pages.
Interests: the interests reports are Google’s way of telling you what your site users are interested in.
Geo: this section shows you the location and language of your users.
Behaviour: this will give you insight into how every user interacts with your site. It shows data, such as how often they visit and how long the visit lasts.
Technology: this gives you information concerning which browsers, network providers, or operating systems users are using to access your site.
Mobile: this shows the data of mobile visitors on your site. You can use this to find out which OS platform to create an app.
Custom: this section allows you create a custom audience with your own report preferences.
Benchmarking: this helps you compare the performance and audience of your website with other brands in your industry.
Users Flow: this shows how users navigate your website and where they eventually leave from.
Acquisition Reporting in Google Analytics
The Google Analytics Acquisition Reporting section is another valuable tool as it allows you track and monitor the traffic sources of your websites. This means it shows you how users are streaming into your site and details of their origin. While this happens to be in the sub-section of real-time reporting, this is a more detailed section of its own providing more in-depth data of every site user from 30 minutes ago and up rather than 5 minute intervals.
Here are some of the sub-sections in the Acquisition report:
Overview: this subsection gives you a quick look-in when it comes to the data that represents traffic sources for your website. It gives details of conversion and behaviour for each traffic-generating source. Some of the traffic sources include Direct, Social, Organic Search, Referral, Email, and others.
All Traffic: this gives more information about traffic sources through its subdivisions such as channels, tree maps, source/medium, and referrals.
The channels section provides a graphical representation that’s missing in the overview page. Tree maps offers more information through more visual representations. The source/medium page allows you get deeper information on individual traffic sources. Lastly, you can get all the data you need concerning referral transfers to your site through the referrals section.
AdWords: if you’re involved in Pay Per Click advertising, Google offers you a means to track users that come to your website from ads that you publish through Google Search or Display Networks. You must connect your AdWords account to your Google Analytics by entering your PPC account ID in the ‘admin’ section of Analytics. Once this is done, your user traffic data will begin to appear.
Search Console: this is an important section as it shows you the traffic you’re getting through Google Search. To see this data, you’ll have to ensure that your Google Search Console and Google Analytics are connected. This is especially important for your SEO campaigns.
Social: this is the subsection dedicated to social traffic that will give you particular info concerning visitors coming into your website from social media platforms. While you can see a quick glance on the overview page, this is where you’ll get all the data you need to optimise better for social media.
Campaigns: if there are custom campaigns created by you or third-party software with UTM parameters, the campaign tab in the Acquisition report section will allow you track them. However, keep it in mind that three parameters are needed to adequately track campaigns in Google Analytics. They include:
utm_campaign (the campaign name)
utm_medium (campaign medium)
utm_source (campaign source)
Behavior Reporting in Google Analytics
The Behaviour Report Section is a powerful tool that will help you derive your best performing pages through the actions of the web visitors on your site. The data shows how users move from one event or page to the other, giving you an idea of the pages or events that keep them engaged the most. This report section also has its subsections:
Overview: this page shows a general picture of all that you may need if you don’t want to dig deep. It contains data, such as Pageviews, unique Pageviews (original page a user visits), average time on page, bounce rate, and exit percentage.
Behaviour flow: this a great visual view that chronicles the movement of your site’s visitors across different pages of your website. It shows the first page they got into, all the pages they navigated to – and how they did, as well as the last page they visited before they exited your site.
Site content: the site content presents data according to how users behave on sub-category pages, such as:
- All pages
- Content Drilldown
- Landing pages
- Exit page
The Site Content tab basically gives you a way to find out which of your web pages are performing the best.
Site Speed: this section shows how your web pages perform when it comes to speed. It contains different metrics like average page load time and average redirection time among others. You can dig into other tabs within this section, such as page timings, speed suggestions, and user timings.
Site Search: this is another way to get more information on how your visitors interact with your site’s pages. This section shows the metrics and data pertaining to how your site’s search function is used. Through sub-layers like usage, pages, and search terms, you can find out which keywords were used in the search box, the pages navigated to through search as well as the pages where the search happened and so many others.
Events: this section is used to track and monitor certain user interactions with your site, such as downloading a file, clicking a call-to-action button, or requesting a call. Other subsections in Events are:
- Top events
- Events flow
AdSense: if you run AdSense, then you must connect your AdSense account to Google Analytics to view important metrics like AdSense Revenue per thousand sessions.
Experiments: this allows you run tests on your landing pages, such as A/B tests and enables you closely track results.
Conversion Reporting in Google Analytics
The Conversion report section will arm you with important data concerning the conversions that your website has achieved. If you run an e-commerce website, you’ll also be able to utilise this section to track your transactions and how much you have made from sources such as referral traffic, paid or organic search, and social media among others. There’s also a provision for setting up goals for tracking other conversions like newsletter sign ups and whitepaper downloads.
Why web analytics are so important to marketers and businesses
Growing an online presence for any business is no easy feat. A lot of strategies have to be put in place to draw users in, keep them engaged, and get them to perform certain actions. The art of conversion can be difficult when there’s no means to properly target ideal audiences, know what works and what doesn’t, as well as optimise the right way. With an Analytics tool, however, marketers and businesses can track everything about their websites and web visitors in order to understand how to adjust online marketing strategies across different internet platforms. But there’s more:
To collect data
Data is internet gold when it comes to marketing. There’s a lot that can be put in place and achieved with certain metrics and statistics at the back of your mind. Marketers can derive valuable information from data, such as page impressions, conversion rate, bounce rate, time on site and so many others to further streamline advertising and brand promotion strategies. With tools like Google Analytics, collecting data has never been better. The tool dynamically pulls a tremendous amount of relevant information from websites on how users interact with pages and it also arms businesses with the instrument to get them optimising their web pages for better results. Merely knowing the number of users visiting your site each day is no longer enough. There’s a need to dig deeper to find out what the experiences of these users are.
To understand how your marketing strategy is working
If you have deployed any online marketing strategy, you don’t necessarily have to wait for sales to start showing up on balance sheets to assume that your internet advertising tactics are paying off. You can track and monitor how well the plans you’ve laid are turning out. This is possible with Google Analytics. You can set up goals and see how you’re faring. No matter which front you’re engaged in, be it organic SEO or PPC, you can track your conversion rate to understand if your strategy or campaigns are effective. This is the only way you can set up better plans and policies going forward.
To make actionable, and informed decisions
Bad decisions are never healthy for business. With online advertising, you can easily be building on entirely wrong strategies without an Analytics tool. Google Analytics will serve as a compass to help you evaluate your options and strategies based on facts. For example, if you find out, through Analytics, that you have a lot of visitors streaming into your site with mobile devices and they’re all spending less than five minutes before they jet out, you’ll know you have to optimise your web pages for mobile devices.
Why Digital Marketing Analytics Matter More Than Web Analytics
Web analytics is a great way to measure the performance of a website with metrics like traffic, unique visitors, conversion and bounce rates and so on. There’s no doubt that these are magnificent data that should be closely followed. However, web analytics are only confined to the data that is pulled from the website or app (like in Google Analytics). The concern of marketers goes beyond the website: they cover the whole marketing campaign and sales funnel that cover and extend beyond (and outside) the brand website.
This is where digital marketing Analytics becomes important. With digital marketing analytics, you can gauge the performance of all your marketing efforts, not just the performance of your website. This analytics tool will give you the full picture of your marketing and brand promotion campaigns across different platforms, such as online PR, email advertising, social media and a lot more. You can also use this tool to troubleshoot certain strategies that are not quite living up to expectations. Every marketer would simply like to know how a user ended up after being “converted” and whether they really turned into actual customers.
Top Google Analytics Metrics to Inform Your Digital Strategies
There are certain metrics that online marketers value the most. This is because they provide essential information that affects the core aspects of website optimising strategies. Most of these metrics are centered on the user. They show how the website performs based on the behaviour and actions of site visitors. The importance of understanding general ways with which websites can perform better have never been hidden by marketers. It’s one of the core parts of marketing. This ultimately leads to smartly set-up plans that work. These are the most important metrics that you should use for better results:
When a page on your website is loaded on the browser of your site visitor, a page view is registered. Pageviews is a metric in Google Analytics that refers to the total number of pages that have been viewed by users. This metric is important in the sense that high pageviews show that you’re doing something right to attract visitors while low pagviews, despite your efforts, is an indication that you should re-evaluate your strategies. However, you shouldn’t be entirely satisfied with your pageviews metric if it is high because the numbers could represent a good search ranking or other traffic source but poor content as the number of users streaming into your site may not be getting what they’re looking for.
Pageviews by Source
These are pageviews categorised by the medium which brought the visitors to your website. They could have clicked on a link on another blog, come through a search result, entered through a social media platform, accessed the page from an ad, or typed in the page address directly in a browser. This helps you know how many users you’re getting from where, showing which source to maximise as well as those where you need to up your game.
Pageviews by Title
Page titles are important as Google also crawls the title and description of each web page or blog to determine how to rank them. You can check out which pages are performing well in order to know if you should tweak your page titles. You can include keywords in page titles moderately to drag traffic but this shouldn’t be done too much. What’s more, check if your titles or description have duplicates across your site as this could hurt the ranking position of your webpages.
Referral visits is a metric that shows you all the visitors that are coming into your site through links of web pages on different websites or blogs. Before the boom of social media, this sort of traffic source used to be the next best thing after search. You can easily track referral visits from the Acquisition reporting section in Google Analytics. You’ll get data showing you source sites of users. This way, you get an idea of how your guest posting policy or inbound link building strategies are working so that you can adjust for better results. If you have not utilised certain strategies like blog and forum commenting to broaden your link profile, then this is the best time to put them into your SEO strategies.
This has to do with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and Google+. Tracking metrics concerned with users coming in through any of these platforms will allow you to understand how you’re performing on social media, giving you the opportunity to revamp your strategies if they’re currently not working. Google Analytics comprehensively breaks down the social referral data to the particular social media site and pages these users are accessing your website from. So, you can identify pages and timeline stories that are engaging users the most and employ the same in different places.
Metrics are arranged in certain orders in Google Analytics and by default, columns of data may come in mere numerical order. You can customise this by utilising the Weighted Sort feature. The Weighted Sort allows you arrange columns of data according to importance. For instance, your bounce rates of 100% will appear first even if they’re showing based on a single session or two if you apply the weighted sort option to this metric.
This gives you a complete data of users who are visiting you website. Through demographics, which you can access in the Audience Report section of Google Analytics, you’ll find the data for different ages and genders of visitors who interact with your site and how they do it differently. This is an extremely important section that can potenially inform your marketing strategies and help you target the right audience. If you already have a demography that you’re targeting for your products and services, then you can utilise this tool to track their behaviour on different web pages of your site.
This metric is undervalued and underused by marketers but it packs a lot of info that, when uncovered, can transform any online marketing campaign and website performance. The page value is a metric found in Google Analytics and it helps you identify the pages in your website that users find more valuable. It shows the pages or events that make users complete certain actions more or those pages that are repeatedly visited. With this metric, you can deploy redesigns to pages that are not doing well and enhance the strategies of those doing well to other pages on your site.
Channels are the list of traffic sources for your website. Default marketing channels in Google Analytics include:
- Paid Search
- Organic Search
Through the channel functions (you can find them in the Acquisition and Conversion report sections in Analytics), there are many things that can be achieved. You’ll fully understand how users are responding to the different strategies you have employed throughout these channels.
This metric informs you about the devices that your site visitors are using to access your website. It’s an important metric in that it identifies the device you should be optimising for. You can also find out which browser, as well as operating system users are utilising. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile users, then this is the metric that you should be looking at to find out why you should use it, if the numerous articles you’ve been reading haven’t convinced you yet. The devices metrics can also help you understand which mobile apps you should optimise for your business.
These are visitors who have accessed your site more than once. This metric will give you comprehensive data of visitors who are coming back to your site after their first visit along with details of how they interact with the pages they access. This is a feature that will allow you identify leads that can be converted based on the kind of information they’re interested in on your website. With this, you can enhance for them and improve your targeting.
Location shows the places in the world where your users are visiting your site from. This is particularly important for Local SEO and geo-targeting because it gives you metric information concerning the places you may be targeting or those that you should ideally optimise for depending on your reach. If you’re a local business that wants to drag in local customers to your site and have been optimising for your region, this tool will let you know if your strategies have been paying off or not, as it’ll show you how users from your locale are behaving on your site as well as the actions they’ve been taking.
Ways to Measure Social with Google Analytics
You can measure the success and performance of your marketing efforts on social media platforms through Google Analytics. This can be done by looking at the number of visitors that come to your site through your social media pages and posts. To achieve this, you can simply set up custom reports and goals where certain social media posts like tweets will serve as network referrals in the social media section under the Acquisition reports.
Using Google Analytics to realign your Digital Strategies
You shouldn’t just use Google Analytics to view how your site is performing then sit back and wait for things to get better. The essence of the tool is to help you refocus your strategies when you find out what you currently have in place isn’t yielding the results you set out to achieve. To experience any form of online goal, you have to constantly be on the drawing board and implementing changes as you track the performance of your site.
Understanding content themes with Content Grouping
There’s a Content Grouping feature in Google Analytics that will prove valuable if you’re always publishing quality content on your site. This feature involves grouping your content into different categories and monitoring how they perform according to the Pageviews that will be given to each category in an aggregate format. When you make the necessary content grouping configurations, you can understand the niches that your site visitors are more interested in.
Looking at social interactions with your content
Looking at the number of social interactions being performed on your content is another great way to track the performance of your content and how it’s keeping people engaged. You can find out the content that people like and share by using social sharing platforms to feed this info into your Google Analytics. Once this is done, you’ll get more understanding on how to optimise similar content across different pages on your website to grow your popularity.
Measuring your promotions
It’s common to run your own promotions side by side with your content, like banner ads, calls-to-action incorporated in the content, or a chat function for requesting a call. You can find out which content is driving more promotional sale by using the Google events feature or other similar tools like CMS plugins, Google Tag Manager, or Enhanced Ecommerce.
Aligning your content to goals
It’s important that you create content that works in order to achieve your business goals. Ensure you’re employing content strategies that will engage users and guide them to use your products and/or services in the end. This way, you are writing content that actually drives sales.
Assigning value to your goals
Now that you’ve identified and configured all the appropriate goals of a website, assigning values to these goals is important as it’ll help you track how these actions are being achieved.
Deciding what content you should create next
With the performance of present content tracked through the Analytics tool, you can easily decide on what to produce next depending on what has been driving results and what hasn’t.