Google Analytics is a powerful tool for measuring traffic to and within your website, but it can also appear overwhelming at first glance. There’s such a wealth of information available through Google Analytics but unless you know what you’re looking for and how to access that data, you won’t get much out of implementing an analytics package like Google Analytics.
Last week Google debuted an upgraded version of Google Analytics (v5), and anyone with a Google Analytics account can now view the old version or the new version. In order to access the new Google Analytics, simply click on new version next to your email address on the top right corner of the page. While Google is still in the process of pulling all the old features over to the new version of GA, the new version seems to be working just fine and there are even a few new features to go along with the redesign and reorganization.
You could spend months learning all the ins and outs of Google Analytics, but here are some of the most important things to look for when you’re tracking visitors on your website using Google Analytics.
When you first log into Google Analytics you’ll see the Visitors Overview that includes stats like Visitors, Pageviews, Time on Site and Bounce Rate. The Visitors and Unique Visitors numbers are important because it lets you know how many people have come to your site during the time frame you’re looking at and you then know approximately how many of those visitors have been to your site before. Pages per Visit lets you know the average number of pages each visitor goes to while on your site. Don’t think that just because you have a high Pages per Visit number it means your visitors are happy with your site and they’re getting what they wanted from your site. I’ve seen instances where a campaign caused Pages per Visit and Time on Site to drop, but have dramatically increased conversion rates. As much information as Google Analytics provides you, it still requires old fashioned individual user research or surveys to find out users sentiments.
The term Bounce Rate can be confusing. A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website that only view one page (the page they landed on first) and then exit your blog. In general, you want as low a bounce rate as possible, but much like the Pages per Visit and Time on Site metrics, a bounced visitor isn’t necessarily an unsatisfied visitor. If your website is more informational in general (many Local, State and Federal Agencies have more informational than sales or conversion goals), a higher bounce rate might not be a bad thing. But for most organizations the goal of your website is likely to sell a product, ticket, room night, service or something along those lines. If you notice high bounce rates for pages where you’re specifically selling an item or asking the user to take an action (sign up for an email newsletter or download a whitepaper), you should make some modifications to the page that could help lower the bounce rate.