I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the days of a “set it and forget it” website are long gone. Not only should you be updating and adding to your website regularly, but you should also know a little bit about the people that are visiting your website. That’s where Google Analytics comes in.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free and extremely powerful service that gives you insights into your website’s traffic. The amount of information that is tracked is amazing, but don’t worry, this post will just cover the basics
What You’ll Learn
- The difference between the Visitors and Visits statistics.
- What Bounce Rate means.
- Understanding where your traffic is coming from and why.
- A quick overview of the Goal Tracking feature.
After you have Google Analytics set up and running for a few days (so that you have some data to look at) visit your website’s dashboard and you’ll see something like the image below.
By default, you’re viewing traffic for the last 30 days, not including today (because today’s traffic hasn’t finished collecting).
Under that pretty blue graph, you’ll see 6 statistics under Site Usage. Here’s a breakdown of what those stats mean:
- Visits – How many times your website was visited in the time frame set above.
- Pageviews – How many pages were viewed.
- Pages/Visit – The average number of pages viewed per visit.
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of visits that left your website without viewing any pages (other than the one they entered on).
- Avg. Time on Site – The average amount of time spent on your website per visit.
- % New Visits – The percentage of how many visits had never been to your website before.
The next area is labeled Visitor Overview. The is the number of individual people that visited your website in the given time frame. You’ll also a map of where your visitors are coming from.
The final two areas on your Google Analytics dashboard are Traffic Sources Overview and Content Overview.
Traffic Sources Overview shows you how your visitors got to your website. There are three types of traffic sources:
- Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc)
- Direct Traffic (Either they typed your website’s address into their browser or they clicked a link from something other than a web page, like your email signature)
- Referring Sites (Another website that has linked to your website)
Content Overview is just that, an overview of your content. Here you’ll see the most viewed pages on your website and the percentage of total page views that makes up.
Visitors vs. Visits
So the easiest way to explain the difference between Visitors (sometimes called Absolute Unique Visitors) and Visits is to think of it in terms of customers walking into your business. When a customer walks into your store for the first time, they have become a visitor. Now let’s say they leave and return 2 weeks later. They have now visited you twice, but they are still just one visitor. So the Visitors stat is actually the physical number of people (or computers) that have been to your website. The Visit stat is how many times those visitors were on your website. Clear as mud? Great.
Inside every area on your dashboard, you’ll notice a “view report” link. Click it to receive more detailed information about each report.
The real power of Google Analytics lies in its goal tracking capabilities. What it allows you to do is define certain steps that users must do to complete a task. For example, a common goal to create is for your contact form. When someone fills out your contact form properly, they are usually taken to a “Success” page informing that their request has been received. By setting up a goal for this we can see exactly how much business is created from our website.
For another example, let’s say that you just incorporated a blog into your website. You could create a goal that tracked how many visitors that viewed your home page and then noticed your blog and read a blog post. The feedback you get from goals is extremely valuable. It gives you direct insight into how difficult or easy it is for your users to use your website and allows you to adjust accordingly.
Google Analytics is an extremely powerful service. This post is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve you’d like to learn more about Google Analytics or would like a Google Analytics account set up for your website, please feel free to give me a call at 208-743-5797 or use my contact form.