Ever hear that line: “What gets measured gets managed?” The principle applies to your website, just like it does to any other key performance indicator in your business. If you can gain insight into the traffic coming to your website, you can better understand the breakdown of your visitor demographics, and better understand how people engage with the content your business is producing.
If you haven’t heard of Google Analytics before, or don’t have it installed on your site at present, you’re in for a big treat! Google Analytics is a robust analysis software which will show you everything from (anonymized and aggregated) data on what operating system, like Google Chrome or Safari, your users are on when they view your site, to the average length of time they spend reading your long form sales page.
If you know how to measure, it will help inform how you manage – so we’re writing up the top 5 metrics to monitor through Google Analytics for your business, nonprofit, or personal website.
1. Uniques Vs. Visits
The moment you open up Google Analytics, Google tells you how many unique visitors have come to your site in the last month, and how many overall visits you have had. These two metrics are different, because if you’re doing your job right, some of those “unique visitors” are returning to your site more than once a month.
Unique Visitors: The number of distinct folks visiting your site. Google Determines this by looking at the IP Address of the different computers coming to your site. So unless there’s a computer program out there viewing your site systematically from many different IPs, you can feel pretty confident that Unique Visitors is really what you want to think about as “traffic to my site.” If you want to be really thorough about it, or you have a large team of people constantly looking at your site for work, you can filter out their IP Address(es) so that you only get the data on people external to your organization.
Visits: Visits is the total number of combined visits to your website. If I visit your website once today, and twice tomorrow, that counts as three separate visits to your site.
2. Demographics Information
Ok, so this one is actually a bunch of different data points, but it’s all in one central location in Google Analytics. When you check out your demographics information in Google Analytics you want to take a peek at the location map. Google Analytics will tell you which country, state/province, and town your visitors are coming from, and even give you a heatmap indicating where the densest volume of traffic is coming from. If you do a big media push in a new country to help with expansion into China, say, then you can expect to see a spike in the traffic coming from China in your demographics location map. Pro tip: sort the data by “longest average visit duration,” because it’s always fun when you learn that one single person in Iceland spent 35 minutes reading 15 pages on your site!
3. Site Content – Page Title
Google Analytics will give you a full breakdown of how many people spend how much time on each page of your site. This is helpful for bloggers who want to learn which of their posts people like reading the most, and for businesses trying to learn how much time people spend on each step of their sales funnel. When you first open up your Google Analytics Site Content tab, it will come up as a bunch of long URLs. Unless you have memorized the unique names of all of your site URLs, or have extremely short and clear URLs, sorting this tab by “page title” will help a lot.
4. Average Visit Duration
When looking at the data on your site, you’ll be able to see a host of ways to sort the data. Number of pageviews, uniques, average visit duration, bounce rate etc. We always look at the content on our clients’ sites sorted by longest average visit duration, because it helps us determine which content people find most valuable or engaging on their site. If we notice that people are spending 30 seconds on a sales page, but 3 minutes on a “learn more” page, we might infer that the sales page needs some serious revision. When you sort by longest average visit duration, you’ll see where people spend the most time on your site, and whether or not that reality lines up with your ideal vision of how people spend their time on your site.
5. Setting Goals
When you get inside of Google Analytics you’ll be able to set goals for your site. You can create filters like “more than three pages visited,” and “spent more than 3 minutes on the site.” If you are trying your best to boost the average number of unique visitors to your site this month, or write content engaging enough that people spend 3+ minutes on your site, Analytics will help you monitor your success, or lack thereof. Check out the Goals functions in Google Analytics and play around with them some. There’s a bit of a learning curve to getting your goals set up, but it does deliver some great intelligence to you, and help you manage web campaigns better.
Google Analytics will help you manage your business better by measuring how your traffic base engages with your website. You wouldn’t want to be spending money to create content if 100% of your visitors leave your homepage within 10 seconds of landing on it. Similarly, you might want to be spending money to tweak and optimize your sales page if you see that people spend 3 minutes reading through it, but never buy anything.
If you’d like any help getting your Google Analytics set up, or would like to learn more about helpful metrics to monitor for improving your business, feel free to drop Anant a line here!
Rahul Singh is the CEO and a Co-Founder of Anant Corporation. For more tips, subscribe to the Anant Corporation newsletter by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/npJmj Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter