Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics tool in the world, with an estimated market share of 55%, and it exists for one sole purpose: to “turn insights into action.” More than just the official slogan for Google Analytics (GA), this describes exactly what GA does. It enables you to see insights into what your customers are doing on your website and help inform your action plan to improve performance.
Yet very few webmasters ever dig into the vast amounts of features GA has to offer, and we at Skyline often find clients are completely surprised when we show them a few neat tricks and tips. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 5 incredibly useful ways you can start using Google Analytics right now to learn more about your customers and better plan the content and products you sell and promote on your website.
- Analyse your website’s audience
HOW: Left Hand Navigation Menu > Audience > Demographics / Interests / Geo
Google relies on smartly targeting adverts with the right audience, and through Google Analytics it shares some of this information with you. It is actually possible to see breakdowns of your website’s Google-cookie audience by demographics (age and gender), interests (including in-market / career segments) and location.
Reports like “In-Market Segments” (above, with an Organic Traffic filter) tell you what your audience does or is interested in.
In our experience, these reports are an accurate and smart way to plan the growth and development of your website and even the company as a whole around your customers. For example, if you are a company operating in say London and Birmingham, but you see very little traffic to your website comes from Birmingham, you may decide to do marketing activity in the area to improve this. The reports will then track changes in customer behaviour as a result of this activity, which is just one of the thousands of potential applications for the data.
- See exactly how popular specific pages on your website are
HOW: Left Hand Navigation Menu > Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages
By default, this invaluable report will show you what the 10 most popular pages on your website are, including the exact number of Pageviews, how long people are spending on these pages, and which pages helped contribute to the buying process of any e-commerce sales (if you have this set up). You can also see which pages cause your audience to leave your website under the % Exit column!
Through the search bar, you can type in specific URLs or keywords, and see how specific pages or categories of pages are doing with your audience. This is essential to know when planning new content to your website, as you can identify exactly what content works for your audience and what doesn’t.
If Article 1 gets 1,000 Pageviews and visitors spent 2 minutes reading it, but Article 2 only gets 100 Pageviews and visitors spending 10 seconds reading it, then you know your audience is reaching and engaging better with Article 1. You may then decide to write more articles like Article 1 or change how you approach Article 2’s topic in future.
- See where your best quality traffic comes from
HOW: Left Hand Navigation Menu > Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
This report has one sole purpose, to tell you where your website traffic comes from. The most useful columns here are Sessions and Avg. Session Duration, which respectfully tells you how many site visits there were per traffic source and how long they spent on your site. The higher the number, the better, indicating where your best quality traffic comes from.
Quick tip “Organic Search” refers to traffic that comes through search engines and includes any SEO work you are doing to your site. Comparing this traffic source’s month-on-month figures will give you an indication if SEO is improving the visibility of your website.
- See if and how your traffic sources work together to convert your traffic
HOW: Left Hand Navigation Menu > Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview / Assisted Conversions / Top Conversion Paths
One of the more recent additions to GA is Multi-Channel Funnels, which are reports that allow you to see how different traffic sources work together to hook your customers in. For example, you may have a website visitor that first clicks on your website through a Facebook link, then leaves your website. Two months later he then comes back to your website through Google Search and then converts by filling out a callback form. Multi-Channel Funnels allows you to see this customer’s buying process, and after a few weeks of data collecting, the Top Conversion Paths report will tell you what channels result in the best conversions.
Multi-channel reports help you work out exactly which channels bring your SMALL business, and which don’t, helping you better plan your marketing time and budget.
- Anonymously see how your website stacks up against your competitors
HOW: Left Hand Navigation Menu > Audience > Benchmarking > Channel
Last but not least is this fun and insightful report that (if enabled, which we recommend) tells you in numbers how your website and various traffic sources benchmark against your industry’s average scores. You, unfortunately, don’t get to see specific competitors, but this tool gives you a good idea whether your online marketing activity is above or below average. Any figures that have a red arrow indicate you are performing below average, so invest time or budget into improving these!