Very often I get the question, what is working on my website? My typical response is, “let’s check Google Analytics”. Google Analytics is a book, it will uncover everything that is working and not working on your website. In this blog we will go over the top 3 stats included within Google Analytics to determine how your website is working.

  1. Audience Overview

When you first log in to Google Analytics, you land on the Audience Overview section. This is the overall traffic and breakdown of traffic throughout your website.  Each section has a distinct purpose. The top chart is a day-by-day breakdown that will tell you how many sessions came to your website for the corresponding day.

Below that section you will find the overview breakdown. This section breaks down the total sessions for the corresponding time period (usually 30 days). It also goes over the users, page views, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate, and percent of new sessions.

  • Sessions– Sessions is the number of times your website was loaded in any type of browser.
    Example: One person has visited your website five times from their laptop, that is five sessions
  • Users– The number of devices (people) that have come to your website.

Example: One person came to your website from their phone and their laptop, which counts as two users.

  • Page Views: This is the total of number of pages that were viewed throughout the given period.
    Example: One person visited your site from the laptop and viewed 5 pages the first time, then they came back to your website for a second time and viewed another 5 pages, that is a total of 10 page views.
  • Pages / Session: This is the average number of page views each session accounts for.
    Example:  If you have 10 sessions and 50 pages views, the Pages/Sessions ration is 5.0.
  • Average Sessions Duration: This is the average time a user spends on your website.

One thing to note: It is active time meaning they are continually engaging on your site. If a user leaves your website on their browser overnight it will not affect your average time on site.

  • Bounce Rate: This is the ratios of people using your website that leave without viewing multiple pages. The bounce rate is measured from the number of people who looked at a single page on your website then left. They might have clicked the browser’s back button or closed their browser window.
    Your goal should be to get this number lower than 50%.
  • % Of New Sessions: This refers to the number of computers that have never before visited your website. Notice that I said that the new sessions report the computers that have never before been to your site, but this does not refer to people.
    Example: I have 3 smartphones, 3 computers, and 2 tablets at my disposal and although I primarily use 1 of each, I might use any one of them to visit a site. The first time I use each of those devices it would count as a new session.
  1. Acquisition

How are people finding my website? The Acquisition Overview section of Google Analytics is where you’ll be able to answer this.  Broken into six different sections, the Acquisition section has sections regarding Overview, All Traffic, AdWords, Search Engine Optimization, Social, and Campaigns.  This is a key section when determining which online marketing tactics are bringing the most visitors to your website.

  • Overview Section: This section provides an overview of all of your website traffic. These traffic reports include Organic Search, Referral Traffic, Direct Traffic, Social, and Paid. This quick view explains the top channels sending visitors to your website as well as associated acquisition, behavior and conversion details for each channel.
    • Organic Search- These are users that come to your website after completing a search through a search engine.
    • Paid Search– These users have visited your website via AdWords or other paid search campaigns such as Bing ads.
    • Direct- These are visitors that have come directly to your website from typing your URL into their address bar or using a bookmark on the browser.
    • Referral – These are visitors that have come to your website via another website. Note: this section is where spamming links are most popular. Check out this video on How To Remove Spammy Referral Traffic.
    • Social: These are users that have come to your website from social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. These users may have clicked an ad, status or come from your profile.
    • Other: If you are using UTM parameters or custom campaign tracking, the traffic linked to those campaigns will be listed here.
      • Custom Campaigns: Custom campaigns track visitors from specific traffic sources. Campaigns are set up using UTM parameters appended to the end of a URL a visitor would click on
    • All Traffic: The all traffic section provides the top traffic sources for all channels combined.  Rather than separating search engines from social media, this section lists the specific source such as Google (organic) or Stumbleupon.com (referral).  This allows you to understand what specific location these people are coming from.
      For example, you may know 2,000 people came from organic search, but did they come from Google or Bing?
    • AdWords: The AdWords section breaks down all of the traffic and success your Google AdWords are producing for your website. This section includes other sections such as campaigns, treemaps, bid adjustments, keywords, search queries, hour of the day, destination URLs, display targeting, video campaigns and shopping campaigns.
      • Campaigns: This section goes over all campaigns that have been run throughout a given time. The chart on the top of pages provides a daily breakdown of traffic from all campaigns. Campaign analytics including clicks, cost, CPC, sessions, bounce rate, pages/sessions, conversion rate, total conversions and conversion value.
      • Treemapping: Treemapping, in the ever-updating words of Wikipedia, is “a method for displaying hierarchical data by using nested rectangles.” In regards to Google Analytics, treemapping takes the data that is already provided to you and allows you to use it to tell a story. It basically skips to the good parts of the AdWords analytics.
      • Bid Adjustments: This section was introduced to help optimize your bids. This section allows you to analyze performance for each of your bids across devices, locations, and time of day.  Bid Adjustments allows you to take advantage of the full range of visitor metrics available in Google Analytics
        • Example: You run a hardwood floor company and you have a Time bid adjustment for +25% on Saturday and Sunday after looking through your bid adjustment  to see they provide a better ROI.  Taking this information provided, you can see you conversion rate is high on Sundays and bid accordingly.
      • Keywords: The keyword section of the AdWords report in Google Analytics helps provide an understanding of the performance of each keyword and ad headline in your AdWords account.
        • Things to consider are bounce rate or low revenue. Just because a keyword is providing a lot of clicks doesn’t mean it is producing on the a ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)
      • Search Queries: The Search Queries section within Google Analytics provides you with actual search queries that resulted in a display of your ads.  The insight provided in this section show how users are searching for your type of product or service. This gives you the opportunity to refine you keywords to research a broader audience and display your ads more effectively.
      • Hour of Day: This section provides performance for ads based on the time of the day, and day of the week.  If you’re selling a service or product within a particular region or country, it may be advantageous to target your ads to specific hours of the day and/or to specific days of the week. If you’re selling worldwide, targeting specific times may be less of a concern because it’s always noon or as the song goes, five o’clock somewhere.
      • Destination URL: This section helps provide insight into the performance of specific landing pages.  This section also includes the campaign tagging of the URLs, so you have a clear understanding what landing pages are working for each campaign.
      • Display Targeting: The AdWords display targeting report allows you to analyze the performance of your campaigns that target the Google Display Network (GDN).  This includes both the display network only and search network with display selected.  The campaign targeting breakdowns include Display Keywords, Placements, Topics, Interest and Remarketing, Age, and Gender.
        • TheAdWords Display Targeting report utilizes each targeting option as a Primary Dimension. For all but the Placements dimension, the report also includes the Campaign and Ad Group
        • From the primary position you can examine the acquisition, behavior and conversion metrics for traffic that is targeted through that particular option.
        • The report lets you understand the extent to which users engage with your site after they click your ads, and how they ultimately lead to conversions.
      • Campaigns: The Campaigns feature tracks visitors who come from campaigns you or a third-party application have set up. Campaigns, as mentioned above, use UTM parameters appended to the end of a URL as visitor would click on.
        • UTM parameters include three things to track in Google Analytics, the campaign name (utm_campaign), the campaign/traffic source (utm_source), and campaign medium (utm_medium).
        • UTM names will appear under the “campaign” section on the left column.
        • When you click on the “campaign name” you will see the source and medium referred to in the URLs UTM Parameters.
        • When you use campaigns, you have a detailed record of visitors who have come to your website from just about anywhere, including an email marketing campaign.
          • For example Constant Contact may provide you with how many people clicked each link in your email. This allows you to utilize Google Analytics for almost all stats needed.
        • Search Engine Optimization: The SEO Report in Analytics uses four different metrics regarding traffic from Google organic search. The SEO metrics include Impressions, Clicks, Average Position, and Click-Through-Rate (CTR).   Along with those metrics the Search Engine Optimize Report includes a Queries report, Landing Page report, and SEO Geographical Summary report.
          • SEO Metrics Information
            • Impressions: Impressions is the number of times your website URL has appeared in google SERPs. This number does not include google paid advertisements (AdWords).
            • Clicks: This is the number of times your website has been clicked from Google Search Results. (This number also does not include AdWords traffic.)
            • Average Positions: This is the average ranking in the Google SERP for all queries.  For example, if your site URL appeared at position 3 for one query and position 7 for another query, the average position would be 5 ((3+7)/2).
            • Clickthrough Rate (CTR) – The CTR is the ratio of clicks to impressions.
              (Clicks / Impressions *100)
          • Queries Report
            • The queries report shows the keywords that generated the most impressions for your website URLs. This report allows you to sort by each of its columns (impressions, clicks, average position, and CTR).
          • Landing Page
            • The landing page report gives a breakdown of which of your website URLs appears the most in the SERP (search engine results page). The URL breakdown illustrates which of your pages appear the most, but does not tell you what keyword the pages represent.
          • SEO Geographical Summary Report
            • This section provides a general view of impressions, clicks and CTR by the country. By clicking the Google Property section as a primary dimension you will see information on search activity regarding web search, mobile search, video search and image search.
  • Social Analytics: The Social Analytics reports allow you to analyze all of the social media traffic to your website.
    • Overview: The overview section of the social analytic report gives you a breakdown of total sessions via social referral, conversion, contributed social conversions and last interaction social conversions. The overview section also breaks down each social media network, the amount of traffic based on each network and % of sessions each network accounted for. Besides all of this information, the overview section also breaks down the shared URLs that brought in the most traffic. The shared URL section provides the number of sessions each accounts for and the % of sessions. The social source section includes a measure of on-site user engagement.
    • Network Referrals: This section is where you can discover where your social traffic originates. It identifies the networks and communities where people engage with your content. This section provides the number of sessions, page views each network provided, average session duration and pages/session.  There are also great graphs that represent a day-by-day breakdown of all sessions in comparison to sessions related to social referrals.
    • Data Hub Partners: The data hub partners’ section of the social acquisition report is related to the people that engage with, share, and discuss your content on sites other than your own. These networks include Disqus, Google Groups, Reddit, Meetup and more.
    • Landing Pages: Landing pages breaks down which page on your website received the most traffic from social media. The landing page section provides you with the shared URL, Sessions, Page views, Average Session Duration, Data Hub Activities, and Pages/Session. This section allows you to analyze which page to share the most on social media. For example, if you see a high bounce rate on a certain page you may not want to share that page on social media. In comparison, you may see that when someone comes to a blog on your website they are staying 200% longer. The stats don’t lie here; you should listen to the results and be sharing your blog more often.
    • Trackbacks: The Trackbacks report shows you which sites are linking to your content, and in which context. This can help you replicate successful content and build relationships with those users who frequently link to your site. In this report, you can see each endorsing URL’s page title and publication date, as well as the number of sessions that it sends to your site. Use the “more” drop-down in each row to view the originating site or your own page that was shared. Use the Filter Pages field to filter by your page URL.
    • Conversions: The conversion section measures the success and impact of your social campaigns by aligning them with your on-site goals, conversion and ecommerce transactions. This report goes through which social platform converted the most, as well as the conversion value for each network.
  • Plugins: If you have Google “+1” and Facebook “Like” buttons on your site, it’s important to know which buttons are being clicked and for which content. For example, if you publish articles on your site, you’ll want to know which articles are most commonly “liked” or shared, and from which social networks they’re being shared (for example, Google+ or Facebook). You can use this information to create more of the type of content that’s popular with your audience. Also, if you find that some buttons are rarely used, you may wish to remove them to reduce clutter.
  • Visitors Flow: The Social Visitors Flow shows the initial paths that users from social networks took through your site. For example, if you run campaigns that promote specific products, you can see whether users from each social network entered your site through these product pages and whether they continued on to other parts of the site, or whether they exited. Hover over a source (Google+, for example) on the chart and select “view only this segment” to focus on traffic from that source.
  1. Conversions:

In Analytics, a conversion is the completion of an activity that is important to the success of your business, such as a completed sign up for your email newsletter (a Goal conversion) or a purchase (a Transaction, sometimes called an Ecommerce conversion).  Conversions are often referred to as Goals in google analytics, goals can be applied to specific pages or screens your users visit, how many pages/screens they view in a session, how long they stay on your site or app, and the events they trigger while they are there. Every Goal can have a monetary value, so you can see how much that conversion is worth to your business. Using values for Goals lets you focus on the highest value conversions, such as transactions with a minimum purchase amount. There are 4 different types of Goals, which are all listed in the table below:

  • Overview: The overview section of the goal section within Google Analytics has a great deal of information regarding goal completions on your website. The page starts with a day-by-day breakdown of Goal Completions. This section is great to see where the spike of goal completions transpired. Below that graph includes information regarding total goal completions, goal values, goal conversion rate, total abandonment rate, and a breakdown of each goal you have set up on your website. Also within the section is the goal completion location, which provides the landing page that the goal happened on, as well as the total of goal completions for the page and the % of the goals that were completed on that specific page. This section also includes a source/medium for the goals, breaks down the source/medium (i.e. Referrer, Google CPC, and Google Organic), and provides a goal completions list from each source, and the % of goals completed from the medium.
    • Goal URLs: One of the best ways to find out if your online marketing efforts are leading to results is to create goals in Google Analytics. Goals will tell you about a visitor’s behavior prior to completing a conversion on your website. The easiest goal type to use is the URL destination goal – it tells Google that when a visitor arrives on a specific page, a goal has been completed. Using Google Analytics goals can help you identify the most valuable traffic you receive to your website in terms of sales, lead generation, and email list building. The URL destination goal type is one of the easiest to use. All you need is a page to redirect users to once they complete a goal and you are ready to learn more about the best referral traffic, content on your site, and more for your business!
    • Reverse Goal Path: “How do I know what way people filled out a form?” This is the question answered by the reverse goal path. Like all goal reports you can view all goal completions or a specific goal that was completed. The reverse goal path is easy, it gives you a goal completion URL and the URL of each of the 3 pages that came immediately before the user competed the goal (if applicable).
    • Funnel Visualization: The funnel visualization shows one session to each step in the funnel, so if a user sees the same step twice- either by navigation back to it from another step or refreshing the page/screen – the second session shows as an exit to that step’s page/screen.   The Funnel Visualization report backfills any skipped steps between the steps at which the user entered the funnel and the step at which the user exited the funnel.
    • Goal Flow: The goal flow is very similar to the Funnel Visualization report, however this shows the path your traffic traveled through the funnel towards a goal completion. This report helps show if the user experience is similar to what you expected.
  • Ecommerce: This section provides ecommerce tracking to allow you to better understand the value of your online business. The reports include segmented information that allows you to analyze your report and discover relationships between your marketing and sales.
    • Overview: The overview section provides a summary of revenue, ecommerce conversion rate, total transactions, and average order value.  Specific marketing campaigns success can be viewed here as it allows you to see the specific stats per marketing campaign. It also allows you to access the order coupon code, the number of times that code was implemented, total revenue, and average order value. If you are running an affiliate campaign this section also provides those details. The overview section includes a breakdown of the products that were sold, the product revenue, and % of product revenue.
    • Shopping Behavior Analysis: This report analyzes the number of sessions that were included in each stage of your purchase funnel. This includes how many sessions continued from one step to the next and how many abandoned the funnel at each stage. The funnel indicates abandonment with a red arrow at the bottom of each step.  This segment indicates users that re-enter the funnel at any stage with a blue bar at the top of a step. (For example, if a user added something to the cart during one session, and then came back to complete the purchase in a subsequent session, the funnel visualization would count the user as reentering at the Checkout step).
    • Checkout Behavior Analysis: The Checkout Behavior Analysis report lets you see how successfully your users moved through your checkout process. The checkout-funnel visualization illustrates how many users moved on from one step to the next, and how many abandoned the process at each step. This section helps breakdown the new users versus a returning visitor.
    • Product Performance: The product performance section is an in-depth look at each product’s performance within the give date range. The in-depth analytics includes the product revenue, unique purchases, quantity, average price, average QTY (average number of products sold per transaction), product refund amount, cart-to-detail rate (product adds divided by views of product details), and buy-to-detail rate (unique purchases divided by views of product detail page).
    • Sales Performance- The sales performance report lets you evaluate sales by two primary dimensions transaction (date, time and ID) as well as date (cumulative transaction data by date). The sales performance section also includes information regarding revenue, tax, shipping, refund amount and quantity.
    • Product List Performance- This represents a logical grouping of products on your site, based on your tagging. These can be represented as catalog pages, cross-sell blocks, up-sell blocks, related-products blocks, and search results pages. The graph within this page allows you to compare two of the ecommerce metrics across the specified date range. The product list performance also lets you see how the product lists on your site performance regarding:
      • The Product List Views- number of times users viewed products when they appeared in the product list.
      • Product List Clicks- the amount that a user clicked the products when they appeared in the product list.
      • Product List CTR- the rate at which users clicked the product list to view products (number of clicks divided by the number of times the list appeared).
    • Marketing: The marketing section of the website includes internal promotion, order coupons, product coupons and affiliate codes.
      • Internal Promotions: include promotions such as banners that advertise one section of your website within another section of the website. The stats included within this are views, clicks, and CTR.
      • Order Coupon: The order coupon report lets you see how your order-level coupons performed in terms of revenue, transactions, and average value.
      • Product Coupon: This report lets you see how your product-level coupons performed in terms of revenue, unique purchases, and product revenue per purchase.
      • Affiliate Code: This affiliate code section within your Google Analytics Conversion Marketing section allows you to see how your affiliate sites contributed to your ecommerce performance in terms of revenue, transactions, and average order value.
    • Multi-Channel Funnels: How much time passed between the users initial interest and his or her purchase? This is the question answered in multi-channel funnels. This section is important because many people may make a purchase on your site after searching for your brand on Google. However, they may have been introduced to your brand via a blog or while searching for specific products and services. The Multi-Channel Funnels reports show how previous referrals and searches contributed to your sales.
      • Assisted Conversions: This report shows the roles and contribution of each channel and the role it plays with a conversion path. This report goes into the breakdown assisted conversions, assisted conversion value, last click or direct conversions, last click or direct conversion value, or assisted/last click on direct conversion.
        • The channel can play one of three roles:
          • Last Interaction: the interaction that immediately precedes the conversions.
          • Assist Interaction: any interaction that is on the conversion path but is not the last interaction.
          • First Interaction: the first interaction on the conversion path; it’s a find of assist interaction.
        • Top Conversion Path: This report shows all of the unique conversion paths (i.e., sequences of channel interactions) that led the conversion, as well as the number of conversions from each path, and the value of those conversions. This allows you to see how the channels perform along your conversion path.
        • Time Lag: TheTime Lag report shows how many conversions resulted from conversion paths that were 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12+ days long. This can give you insight into the length of your online sales cycle.
        • The Path Length: ThePath Length report shows how many conversions resulted from conversion paths that contained 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12+ channel interactions.
      • The Model Comparisons Tool: Allows you to compare how different attribution models impact the valuation of your marketing channels. This section allows you to use the MCF Channel Grouping, Source/ Medium, Source, Medium, other and channel groupings.
        • With the primary dimensions you’re able to see the spend, last interaction conversion, last interaction CPA, last interaction conversion value, and last interaction ROAS.

In conclusion the audience overview, acquisition, and conclusion section are what I believe to be the most important sections of Google Analytics. These sections provide the vital information on who your website visitors are, where they came from, where they like to go within your website, what marketing efforts are working, and more. With all of those questions answered, I believe any marketing expert will be able to tell what sentiments are worth spending time on.   These sections also allow you to see where you can improve and what marketing efforts you should not be spending time on when it comes to the website. Understanding the ROAS (return on ad spend) whether that is organic or paid media, allows for a holistic overview of where you should be spending your money.

If you have any other questions, comments or concerns regarding this information please do not hesitate to contact us!

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