How to use Google Analytics for measuring and interpreting your website traffic
Google offers many different courses to teach you everything you need to know about the platform.
BY ELIZABETH BREEDLOVE
Google Analytics may be the best way to track, measure and analyze information about your digital audience. The free platform logs valuable data that you can use to make decisions about how you choose to market your business online.
You can track these metrics, among many others:
- How many people visit your site;
- How many people have recently visited your site for the first time;
- What pages site visitors look at;
- How site visitors get to your site and what websites send traffic to your site;
- Which of your social media channels drive traffic to your site;
- How many of your site visitors “convert,” or perform the action you’d like them to do;
- How many visitors you get from desktop or mobile devices;
- What content your site’s visitors like the most;
- How effective your marketing campaigns are and what marketing tactics drive the most traffic to your site.
6-step setup process
Setting up your account isn’t too difficult, but it is a fairly technical process. You can find great step-by-step guides online with screenshots through a simple Google search. A high-level overview of what the process entails:
- Set up a Google Analytics account. If you already have a primary Google account that you use for gmail or other services, you can use this to set up your Analytics account.
- Once you have a Google account, visit analytics.google.com, where you’ll be prompted to click “sign up” to get started.
- You’ll then enter some basic information about what site you would like to track. To start, set up your Analytics accounts, properties and views. Think of this like a hierarchy. For example, if you have two products you’ve invented and are selling under the same parent company but you have a website for each, your account would be for your business and your properties would be your two websites. Then, you can set up views for each site; you could have the default “all data” view, and then another view that filters out traffic coming from your office’s IP address.
- Now you’re ready to install tracking on your site. How you do this depends on how your site is set up, but generally speaking you’ll either place a tracking code on every page of your site or in your site’s header, use a plug-in to set up tracking, or use a native feature within your CMS.
- Set up goal tracking so you can monitor when someone performs a desired action on your site—such as visiting a certain page, filling out a form, signing up for emails or purchasing something. As you’re setting up goal tracking within Google Analytics, make sure you are also setting your own personal goals and benchmarks for your site’s performance.
- Once you have all this set up, click around and explore within Google Analytics.
For a more in-depth look at how to set up and use Google Analytics, visit analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/. Google offers many different courses to teach you everything you need to know about the platform and even offers a Google Analytics certification if you are interested in becoming a true expert.
Improving your social media
Now that you have Analytics set up, what data should you consider when setting up your social media strategy for 2021?
Audience demographics and Interests: Under the Audience tab, you can find data such as your audience’s age and gender (for example, 61 percent of Inventors Digest’s online audience in the past month was male), their interests, where they are located, what kind of devices they use to visit your site, and more. If you’re a more visual person, the Users Flow section will give you a visual map of your customers’ journeys so you can see how they navigate through your site and where they drop off or leave your site. You can use this data as you write posts for your social media channel to ensure that what you post will resonate with your audience.
Acquisitions: This tab provides data about how users get to your website. Most notable in this case is the Social drop-down, which offers a deep dive into all traffic coming from social media sites. You’ll find information about which social networks drive the most visitors to your site, what pages they send traffic to, and how that traffic converts. You can also see where this traffic drops off. Analyzing and visualizing his data will help you see what’s working so you can do more of it, and help you see what isn’t working so you can fix it.
Goal tracking and conversions: Under the Conversions tab, you’ll find everything you need to know about how users end up performing the actions you want them to take on your site. You can find data about how many goal completions you’ve hit over a specified period, what pages users visited before completing your goal, which pages on your site are most valuable, how the traffic that converts is coming to your site in the first place, and much more. This will help you analyze your overall marketing tactics to figure out what works and what doesn’t. When you know what referral sources drive the most converting traffic to your site, and what pages users tend to visit before they convert, you’ll have a clearer picture of where to focus your social media marketing efforts and what types of content to post or link to.
There is no time like the new year for a fresh start. Taking a closer look at your site’s overall performance using Google Analytics is a great place to begin!