Google Analytics is estimated to be used by more than 56% of websites worldwide. It’s essential that you have a solid understanding of the platform in order to really compete with your competitors and optimise your website and marketing strategy. So, which Google analytics reports are really vital for you to understand?
There are so many useful reports on Google Analytics we could write several blogs on this topic alone! To help you out, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you get to grips with the most important Google Analytics metrics and dimensions to keep track of. To keep things simple, we’ve grouped them under the four main types of report – audience, acquisition, behaviour and conversions.
Audience reports show you who is visiting your website, so it could be said that this one of the most vital of all the Google Analytics reports. This report will show you whether visitors are new or returning, their location, demographic, and even which devices/browsers they are using. These details, plus many more, will enable you to gain a strong understanding of your website visitors.
The user metric shows the number of people that visit your website. This can be broken down into new and returning users. New visitors can indicate growth, while returning users can indicate that visitors are taking enough of an interest in your offering that they return to the website.
A session is when a user is active on your website within a certain time frame (the default is 30 minutes). If the user is inactive for 30 minutes, but then returns to the website a new session begins. This means that one user can have multiple sessions on the website.
A related statistic is the average session duration. This is the average amount of time a user spends on the website in a single session. Studies show that a good average session duration is between 2-3 minutes.
The third key figure related to sessions is pages per session. The importance of this metric hinges on your overall marketing objectives. If you are running a campaign where the main goal is to get people to make a purchase as quickly as possible, you may actually want to limit the amount of website navigation needed to reach the checkout page. However, for a lot of businesses, a high average pages per session is a good sign as it shows that users are interested and are engaging with content throughout your website.
The bounce rate is the percentage of users who land on your website and then immediately click off the site without interacting with it. If your website bounce rate is high, or has increased month on month, think about what could be causing this. Investigate possible slow page loading speed, website errors and user experience issues. It may even be that the content is not engaging enough, or the call to action is unclear.
You can also find the bounce rate for specific web pages in the behaviour section of Google Analytics. So, it’s a good idea to investigate each web page that has a high bounce rate.
One of the most important Google Analytics reports, Channels, provides you with an in depth insight into where your website traffic is coming from. This is split into organic search, paid search, direct (when someone types the website name directly into the browser), referral (e.g. a link from another website), social, email and other.
You can then compare the number of users, sessions, bounce rate and other metrics for the traffic that came from each of these channels, giving you a good idea of which channel is bringing in the highest quality traffic.
Medium is the broader category that the traffic falls under (such as organic search), while Source shows the specific origin of the traffic, e.g. Google or a website domain that has linked to your site.
A landing page is the first page that the user arrives on when visiting your website. This report can help you to understand which landing pages receive the most traffic. From here, you can take a look at page content, user experience and existing marketing campaigns to find out why these pages are doing so well, and use this information to improve on other pages on your website.
The exit page is the last page a user visits before leaving your website. By looking at the exit page report you should be able to see which pages are losing users. Of course, if there are high numbers of people reaching goal completion pages such as the ‘thank you’ page on an eCommerce website, this is a good sign. The report can also flag other pages that are losing a lot of users, giving you an opportunity to address any content or user experience issues with the page.
The behaviour flow report gives you an excellent visual insight into the visitor’s journey through your website, which pages they visit and where they drop off. It shows you how they interact with and navigate the site, which links they are most likely to click on, as well as where potential customers might be losing interest.
This can give you an idea of where there might be user experience issues. For example if users are regularly hitting the basket or checkout page and dropping off then there might be a problem with the checkout process that needs to be addressed.
The goal completions metric indicates the number of times visitors complete a predefined goal on your website. These are manually set up depending on what you define a goal to be (this could be anything from signing up to a newsletter, completing a purchase or visiting a specific URL).
The conversion rate tracks the percentage of users who have completed a goal on your website. This is calculated as the number of goal sessions divided by the number of sessions multiplied by 100. A good conversion rate is typically at least 2.35%.
Of course, there are many other important things worth looking at on Google Analytics – we haven’t even touched on things like Site Speed, Google Ads and Search Console, but hopefully this article has given you a good idea of where to start. One thing to remember is to compare these reports month on month, as well as year on year to get a realistic idea of how your marketing campaigns are performing.
If you would like any advice on which Google Analytics reports are vital for you or any other aspect of your website, get in touch and see how we can help.