When you have gone through the process of setting up Google Analytics, it can feel like the hard work is behind you. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case – in fact, it could be argued that the work is just beginning.
As wonderful as Google Analytics is, it’s not without its problems; it’s extremely data-heavy and can seem impossible to interpret when you first begin to use it. However, learning how to read Google Analytics is essential for your future online success, so here’s a few tips for using Analytics, minimising confusion, and interpreting the vast amount of data the software provides.
Get into the habit of seeing colours, not numbers
The first thing you see when you sign in should be your Audience Overview. This gives you all the information you need on who is coming to your site, when, how long they are staying, and so on.
If your figures are trending upwards, you’ll have a lot of numbers in green on this page. If they’re instead tumbling, you’ll see more red. This means you should be able to see, at a glance, how your site is performing right from the moment you open your Analytics account.
Change date ranges to ascertain the success of recent site changes
Analytics allows you to compare how your site has performed week-to-week, month-to-month, and how it is performing now compared to the same point last year. This is hugely useful in and of itself but is particularly beneficial if you have recently made significant changes to your site – for example, if you have recently changed your design, or are now publishing a different type of content. By switching the dates, you can see exactly how successful this new process has been. If your stats are better than they were six months ago, great! If not, then it may be best to revisit your approach, or even consider reversing the changes.
Focus on the Acquisition section to assess your link-building methods
In Google Analytics, Acquisition simply means how people found your site – for example, through a Google search, a Tweet, a link on another site, and so on.
This information is incredibly important when assessing your link building methods. If you’re receiving plenty of traffic via social media, you could double-down on social media marketing tactics. On the flip side, if you notice you have relatively few visitors via search engines, you may want to examine your on-page SEO in more depth.
Pay close attention to the “device” section
The Audience Overview provides a huge amount of data, but there’s one area in particular that deserves special focus: the devices used to access your site.
Why is this so important? Simply put, it’s to take account of the changing times. With mobile browsing becoming more and more important seemingly by the day, you need your stats to confirm that your site can keep up. If you notice a high bounce rate for mobile views, this suggests that there is a problem with how your site displays on mobile devices – an issue you’ll want to fix as soon as possible if you’re going to keep pace with the way people browse.
Assess your content by checking your most popular pages – plural
Analytics will tell you which pages are being read, for how long, when, and a lot more besides, as we already know. However, how you put this information together is important. It almost goes without saying that your most visited page is your home page, because that’s usually where a link will bring the vast majority of visitors, but it’s also worth checking what your next most popular pages are. If a page is popular, it’s doing something right – and you can then seek to do more of the same in future.
Set and monitor your goals
When first implementing Analytics, you’ll have been presented with the option to set goals – but many people skip this option in preference of getting the software up and running as quickly as possible. If you skipped this step, go back and include it; goals provide a simple, easily-checked metric that allows you to judge your current course, particularly in terms of conversions, and make any adjustments if necessary.
Avoid using one Analytics account for multiple companies
To make a long story short, site owners have a habit of collecting different sites – their business site and their personal, or Business 1 and Business 2. Initially, it is easier to follow and is considered fairly harmless to have more than one companies sites attached to your Analytics account.
However, you should be running separate accounts for separate companies and a separate one for your personal projects, as soon as you are comfortable doing so. It brings clarity, which makes everything easier to read, and if you need to take investors, colleagues, or anyone else through your data in weeks and months to come, you’ll be glad you don’t have to sift through one account to pull out data from among two, three, or more sites.
While Google Analytics features are incredibly useful, they can be rather overwhelming when you first begin to use the service. However, keep the above points in mind, and you’ll soon feel more comfortable reading the data Analytics is able to provide – which means you should be on course for success in future.