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#1 Google Analytics - Key Website Visitor Stats to Understand and Monitor

#1 Google Analytics - Key Website Visitor Stats to Understand and Monitor

Author -  Vaughan Reed - Managing Director & Web Strategist

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a great saying to introduce this series of four articles.

They are a culmination of my last 6+ years using Google Analytics – a specific tool for managing and measuring the effectiveness of your website. The articles also provide in-depth instructions for the techniques discussed within my Webinar - Read your Google Analytics like a pro!

As a website design and online strategy company, the team at Labyrinth Solutions firmly believe that having a successful website is a direct result from your on-going management and marketing of your website together with direction and support you receive from your website provider. Launching a great website in todays’ crowded online space without a clear plan for on-going management and marketing is unlikely to achieve desirable results for your business.

I hope to empower you with the tools and knowledge you need to monitor your website effectively so you can achieve website success, so let’s get started.

 

Audience

Upon logging into Google Analytics the Audience Overview is where I focus my attention, looking at key measurements (as highlighted), ‘magic numbers’ and assess website stickability!

GooglePro1-1.png

Visits – some specialists put more importance on Unique Visits but my preference is Visits. I don’t mind if Unique Visitors is low in comparison to Visits, because this indicates that you have a good number of returning visitors. Most people don’t make a (buying) decision on their first visit; it generally takes a few visits before they’ve made up their mind.
Therefore a good number of returning visitors indicates a user friendly website with relevant content.

Low website traffic volume is the No. 1 priority to fix, so make sure; 

  1. Your website content matches what your target market is searching for
  2. Your content is structured well enough to rank highly in search engines
  3. You have the appropriate and adequate marketing avenues to attract visitors

Page / Visit, Avg Visit Duration & Bounce Rate – Assessing these three figures will define your website “stickability” - a term which implies your website relevancy and ability to retain your audience interest. I like to refer to them as magic numbers. If one of these magic numbers is out then your website stickability is unbalanced and attaining website success will be beyond your grasp.

The magic numbers you are looking for are:

  1. For general websites (promoting a company’s product or service) – your Magic Number = 3. You want to see both “Pages / Visit” at 3 and the “Avg. Visit Duration” sitting around 3 minutes
  2. For Ecommerce and Information websites (i.e. blogs) your Magic Number = 6.

    The higher these numbers are the better, as they measure your website stickability.
  3. For Bounce Rate, your Magic number = 30% (or ideally lower) and is independent of the type of website. Don’t be too alarmed if your bounce rate is about 40%, however if it’s over 40% you would want to dig further to find out what the contributing factors are and fix them.

    Important Note: the Bounce Rate is the percentage of people going to your site and viewing a single page before exiting. The Bounce Rate does not factor in the visitors time on the page so this figure on its own is not a good indicator of poor quality traffic. It should be viewed in context with Page / Visit and Avg Visit Duration.

Mobile Visitors – Whilst still in the Audience section, have a look at your mobile visitor stats

Click on Audience > Mobile > Overview

GooglePro1-2.png

As you can see with our example, roughly 30% of the traffic is coming from mobile devices so there is a proven need to update this website to display and operate effectively when viewed on a mobile phone or tablet.

Important Note: these Mobile stats include traffic from Tablets. The majority of websites will look and function adequately on a tablet, so what we really want to know about is ‘mobile phone’ traffic. You could go to the Devices section and add up all the individual numbers for mobile devices traffic but this is time consuming and limited in the detail you achieve, so here’s a better way…

The following steps will create a custom Advance Segment that will allow you to view your stats for Mobile Phone usage only.

  1. Log into Google Analytics prior to selecting the link
  2. Click on the following link to install
    https://www.google.com/analytics/web/permalink?type=advanced_segment&uid=Y3ee_juwRNi2VkhX2k7LbA
  3. Select the profile where you would like to add the custom segment. (refer to step 3 to make the custom segment available for all your profiles)
  4. Click the ‘Create’ button
  5. If you would like to make the custom segment available across all your profiles, select ‘More Options’ near the bottom of the page and select the ‘Any Profile’ radio button
  6. Click ‘Save Segment’ to complete the process

To enable the custom Advance Segment, do the following:

GooglePro1-3.png

  1. Click on the Advance Segments button just under the section heading
  2. Tick “Mobile Visitors (Operating System)” within Custom Segments
  3. Click on the ‘Apply’ button

If you go back to Audience > Overview with the Advanced Segment enabled, you’ll see a summary of how effective the website is for Mobile Phone visitors.

GooglePro1-4.png

In the example above you can see that this website receives just over 10% (total visits where 4860) of their traffic via mobile phone devices. Also, two key values (Page / Visit, Avg Visit Duration) are within range for the Magic Number of 3 and our bounce rate is within the 30% range – all of which tells us that this website is effective in retaining mobile visitors.

The major reason why this example website is effective for mobile visitors is because it has been specifically designed to display effectively when viewed via; Desktop, Tablet and Mobile devices as you can see in the screenshot:

Archgola.jpg

 

Traffic Sources

The next thing to check is where traffic is originating from. Remember to remove the filter for Mobile Visitors. Click the X next to the Advance Segment...

GooglePro1-6.png

Click on Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic

Here you’re looking at where your main source of traffic is coming from and how relevant (or sticky) the traffic is for each source.

Look at the Number of Visits in context with Pages / Visit, Avg Visit Duration & Bounce Rate.

Note any abnormal values; these can indicate both good quality and poor quality. If you are receiving poor quality traffic from a specific source then stop or reduce your spend for that particular marketing source. If you are receiving good quality traffic from a particular source then conversely, think about increasing your marketing spend to get more traffic.

Important Note: If you had a high average bounce rate, this section would show you if there’s an issue due to a specific source of traffic.

 

Search Engine Optimization

Click on Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries

The Search Engine Optimization section is relatively new but it’s very useful! This section provides great information about rankings in Google and the Click Through Rate (CTR) for specific keywords.

To enable this feature you have to link your Analytics account with your Google Webmaster Tools. Refer to the following Google Webmaster Tools setup guide to enable the Search Engine Optimization feature: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1308621?hl=en&ref_topic=1308589

 Within the Search Engine Optimization section you should monitor your rankings and CTR for the primary keywords that describe your business. If your website is not getting a good CTR but you are ranking well then you need to look at the description Meta tag for the landing page to make sure it is persuasive enough. I think the example site shown does a great sales job to cover many bases.

GooglePro1-7.png

Important Note: I have found that ranking isn’t totally accurate for New Zealand listings due to international traffic skewing the results even when filtering by New Zealand only traffic. The clicks should be accurate but I recommend using the stats for ‘impressions’, ‘rankings’ and ‘CTR’ as a guide only.

 

Site Content

Click on Content > Site Content > All Pages

Next I look at the top ranked pages.

Obviously, the aim here is to know which pages are being viewed the most by your website audience. However, more importantly, you’ll want to look at the stickability of your top pages too. Remember, this is how effective these (top ranked) pages are at retaining your visitor’s interest.

Look at your Pageviews, Avg Time on Page and Bounce Rate to gauge the “stickability” of each of your top pages.

If any of your top level pages have poor stickability, take a look at the page and see what could be causing the issue. Generally, the problems are due to minimal content, poor content or no clear call to actions.

Important Note: If you had a high average bounce rate, this section would show you if the issue is due to a specific page.

 

Site Search

While in Site Content, it’s also worth checking the Site Search stats. If you have internal searching on your website (this is searching within your website, not an external search engine), this section will tell you what search terms people are using within your website to find information.

For Site Search to work on your own website, you’ll need to do some ‘configuring’ first so please refer to the following setup guide: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=en

You can use Site Search to monitor your top internal search terms. To test the results that you see, I suggest that you perform the search yourself to make sure the appropriate results are being returned. Knowing your top internal search terms is very important to help you fine-tune meta-data and writing content.

 

Conclusion

The key statistics that I have highlighted in this article are ones that I like to monitor on a monthly basis for our clients. Of course there are a lot of others that you can monitor but my selection will give you a good gauge of your overall website performance.

 

More in this series - Read your Google Analytics like a pro!

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