Making Sense of Data – A Google Analytics Overview
For the purpose of this article, we are using Google’s Demo Google Analytics Dashboard to represent data in the below screenshots. These examples therefore do not depict true or correct data.
Google Analytics is a powerful and robust tool used for tracking user activity on your website. Not only does it give you a good understanding of how many visits your website is receiving, it also provides a range of actionable data that can be used in conjunction with your broader marketing efforts. Unfortunately, despite Google’s regular enhancements and updates, Analytics can be a bit of a beast when it comes to breaking down the data.
If there’s anything we’ve learned here at Amergin, it’s not to get overwhelmed with the amount of data available; it’s to focus on the data that provides value to you and your business. We’ve compiled a basic overview below for you to start understanding your own Google Analytics Dashboard and begin navigating through the information.
The Google Analytics Overview
Before we start, it’s important to mention that the date range can be changed at any time, and the associated data will be reflected accordingly. By default, your dashboard will display data from the Last 7 Days. You can however change this to hone in on specific timeframes in which you would like to analyze further. There are additional presets ranging from Today through to the Last 30 days or alternatively, you can set the Date Range manually using the calendar. This is particularly handy if a marketing campaign has been launched and you want to view data corresponding to the campaign dates.
Now to start digging…
1. Audience Overview
This is the best place to start for anyone wanting to get a basic understanding of the traffic landing on their website. Here, you can view the following data:
- Sessions – Total amount of visits to your website, including repeat visits.
- Users – Total amount of unique visitors to your website.
- Pageviews – The total number of pages viewed in the set timeframe, including repeat visits to a single page.
- Pages / Session – Average number of pages viewed during a session.
- Average Session Duration – The average length of a session.
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. ie The user navigated away from your website.
- % New Sessions – An estimate of the percentage of first time visits.
Digging a little deeper in the Audience category, you can also discover basic Demographic information of your users, the technology they are using to visit your website and even what platform they viewed the website on (ie. Desktop, Tablet, Mobile Phone).
Simply put, the Acquisition Overview outlines how visitors reach your website. This is split into a variety of channels, with five of the biggest listed below:
- Paid Search – Visitors landing on your website from paid advertising (Google Adwords).
- Organic Search – Visitors reaching your site from organic search results based on particular keywords entered into Google.
- Direct – Visitors landing on your website by entering your URL directly into their browser.
- Social – Visitors landing on your website from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Referral – Other websites that have sent traffic to your website.
You can continue to uncover further insights from each of these channels by clicking through on each category and analysing the data. For example, clicking through on the Organic Search channel will reveal the keywords visitors typed into Google in order to reach your website. Likewise, clicking through to Social will provide you with an understanding of which social channel is generating the most website visits.
Finally, and in our opinion most importantly, comes user behaviour. Some of this data will look similar to what’s available to you in the Audience Overview, however you can now see exactly where on the website your visitors are looking. The Pages metric provides the top 10 page URL’s on your site that are receiving the most visits, and allows you to break down the page data by Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Average time on Page, Bounce Rate and more. Cool, huh?
For those more visually inclined, Google have also included a Behaviour Flow tab that visually represents this information in an interactive flow chart. Need a quick, visual understanding of how visitors are moving through your website? This is a great place to start!
So there you have it – Google Analytics 101. This is very much a quick introductory overview of the platform, however as Google Analytics has much, much more to offer, we highly recommend you start exploring your Google Analytics dashboard regularly. For a free tool, it provides extremely valuable insights to help you measure and track your online performance.