If you’re just beginning to explore your new Google Analytics account, the dashboard can feel confusing and even overwhelming. Do you feel like you need Google Analytics help right off the bat? A good way to start your journey with Analytics is to take a free Analytics Academy course. Google Analytics for Beginners will help you find metrics, segment information, and set up goals. But if you ask any of the Content Managers at Oneupweb, they’ll all agree: the best way to learn about Analytics is to dive in and work with the data.
Google collects a tremendous amount of information about your website and the people who visit it. How do you decide which Google Analytics metrics to track? Here are seven data points that provide critical information for just about any kind of website.
The total number of Sessions tells you how many users actively engaged with your website within a selected time frame. In other words, each Session represents an opportunity to convert a visitor into a customer. Compare Sessions to the previous period, month, or year to get an idea of whether your website’s traffic is trending upward or downward.
2. Goal Completions.
What do you want people to do on your website? Should they fill out contact forms? Download a whitepaper? Purchase products? You can track all these actions and more with Google Analytics goals. Setting up goals in your Google Analytics account is one of the best ways to customize the metrics you track on your website.
3. New vs. Returning Visitors.
This metric shows the percentage of users who are new to your site compared to those who are returning after a previous visit. You can examine which landing pages each segment visits most often, and on which pages conversions are more likely to occur so you can optimize your content for more engagement and goal completions.
4. Session Duration.
Which pages keep your audience engaged the longest? Check the Session Duration metric for your landing pages to find out. Publish content that is engaging and useful to naturally increase Session Duration for that page. To address low Session Duration, take a close look at the landing pages with the shortest Session Duration and develop a strategy to make those pages more informative and interesting for your audience. Once your on-page content is optimized, you can design user paths to ensure visitors stay on the site after they read that first page.
5. Channel and Source/Medium.
The Channel screen shows you how many users came to your website via the various Default Channel Groupings, such as organic traffic, social media, or email. The Source/Medium screen breaks those buckets down into more specific segments. For example, the Channel screen can tell you how many sessions occurred on your website last week via social media channels; the Source/Medium screen will break those social sessions down by social media platform. Keep an eye on these metrics to identify which sources are bringing in the most sessions and generating the most goal completions. Then you can focus your resources on your strongest traffic sources, or beef up your weaker ones.
6. Landing Pages.
It’s important to understand that users may visit many pages during one session, but their landing page is the page through which they first entered your website – or “landed” on your site. The most popular landing pages on your website provide the majority of your visitors with their first impression of your business. Make sure those pages convey your intended message clearly and effectively. Create explicit and easy to find calls-to-action on these pages.
7. Page Timings.
Almost half of consumers want web pages to load within two seconds. The Page Timings feature in Google Analytics shows you simple bar graphs that pinpoint your slowest pages. Then you can click down to Speed Suggestions to create a forward strategy for speeding up all those slow pages. It’s worth noting that one of the most common causes of slow page load times is large image files.
Are Other Google Analytics Metrics Important?
There are tons of other metrics you can track in Analytics. For example, we haven’t even mentioned ecommerce. If you sell products or services on your website, you will want to keep track online sales via ecommerce. We also recommend enabling the user demographic function. Once enabled, Analytics will show you helpful graphs that illustrate your audience’s age, gender, location – and it will even tell you what browser they used to view your website.
Need More Google Analytics Help?
If keeping up with your content marketing, website maintenance, and monthly reporting is getting out of hand, Oneupweb can help. One of the benefits our content marketing clients enjoy is monthly Google Analytics reporting. We tailor each clients’ reports to their specific needs, including only the Google Analytics metrics that matter to them. Reach out to the experts at Oneupweb to discuss how we can help.