Google Analytics is one of the most commonly-used online analytics tools – used to track website data and distill it into useful metrics to evaluate success. Google Analytics metrics cover visitor behavior – including where people enter your website, where they exit, and after how long – and demographics, traffic sources, goal conversions, and more.
While Google Analytics makes this information easily accessible, it's not always simple to translate it into meaningful insights to grow your business. Here we consider valuable metrics – exploring what they are and how best to use them.
A session is the time a user is active on your website or app. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity. Users that leave the site and return within 30 minutes count as part of the original session.
Pageviews measures the number of times a web page is viewed. It's a cumulative number and records every visit; so, if a visitor refreshes the web page, or leaves the page and returns later, these count as additional page views.
Pageviews help you understand how visitors interact with your website, for example, which content or product pages are receiving the most hits. You can use this information to shape your website to attract and engage with potential and existing customers.
Unique pageviews are the number of sessions during which a page was viewed. This metric counts the number of times a visitor views a page in one session as a single event (or a unique pageview).
This metric records the number of visitors to your website who have had at least one session within the selected date range; it includes new and returning users.
Tracking monthly users helps you understand if your website's audience is increasing, decreasing, or unchanging.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter and then leave your website without viewing other pages. The bounce rate doesn't factor in how visitors arrive at that page or how long they stayed.
Use this metric to identify which pages users find engaging and those that could be improved to support more positive customer actions.
The exit rate is the percentage of visitors to a web page that leave the website from that page (to another site). With this information, you can begin to understand which web pages engage your users.
The number of exits correlates with the performance of your website and signifies whether it's user-friendly.
This metric shows how much time, on average, is spent by visitors on a page, measuring the effectiveness of that page.
The time a visitor spends on a page suggests whether they have connected with your content. More visitors spending less time on a page can be a matter of concern, indicating you need to reevaluate the page/content.
Traffic sources tell you exactly how visitors arrived at your website – via a search engine, social media, digital marketing campaigns, or other.
Google Analytics splits this into direct – a visitor types your URL into their browser – and referral traffic – where a visitor lands on your page by clicking a link.
Knowing the source of your site traffic can help you better target potential and existing customers, focus on the channels that work best for you, and identify gaps.
Google Analytics has all the data you need if you're looking for a more granular view of traffic coming from search engines. View the percentage of traffic coming from search engines and a breakdown of whether it is from organic or paid searches.
Organic search shows those who entered your site by clicking organic (unpaid) links on the search engine results page. Paid search results are users who clicked on one of your paid search engine adverts, such as Google Ads.
Use this data to assess how well your website performs in search engine results (and the strength of your SEO) and evaluate how your paid campaigns are performing.
Google Analytics allows you to set goals to monitor the conversion rate of activities such as users completing a contact form or an online transaction, or spending a defined period engaging with your site. You can assign a monetary value to goal completion to estimate the return on investment for these activities.
Given the data that you get from web analytics tools, the potential is endless. Tools such as Google Analytics can uncover valuable data about your audience – the more that you know, the more informed decisions that you can make.
Of course, the metrics that matter most to your business will depend on what your goals are.
Data analytics is a powerful tool for businesses. By analyzing your data, you can evaluate how your business is performing, identify trends, and answer pressing questions.
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