Have you set up your website? Are you running an advertising campaign? Does your email campaign link to a landing page on your website? There is one question that I always ask myself when I set up a website or when I run a digital campaign – Is it working? This is where Google Analytics comes in. It’s a tool that plays a massive role in answering this question.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google which tracks and offers data on how the traffic interacts with your website. For example, the most basic information you can expect is to know how many people visited your website, where are they coming from, and for how long they were on your site.
Google Analytics also offers advanced tracking and enables you to collect data on the numbers of conversions and sales.
Why is Google Analytics Important?
I best answer this with an example. Let’s say that you’re running an ad campaign on Facebook. You are spending money for your ad to be shown to a specific audience. They click on the boosted link and go to your website. What happens after that?
- Do they stay on your website?
- Do they register on your lead form?
- Do they view the rest of your website?
- Do they visit your website again?
- How many visitors does your website get?
Google Analytics provides all of this information. Why is this information critical? By being aware of this data, you can decide whether your ad campaign is successful or not. For example, through Google Analytics, you become aware that out of the 100 visitors on your website, only 10 stay beyond 5 seconds. You are now aware that there is something wrong with your digital campaign. I’ll get deeper into how to interpret analytical metrics a bit later.
How to Install Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is not a software that you have to install on your computer system or server. Instead, Google Analytics gives you a tracking code which needs to be inserted on your website. Let me break it down step-by-step.
1: Visit Google Analytics
2: Sign in using your Google Account.
3: Click on the Admin tab
4: Select the right account
Under the Property section, click on Tracking Info.
Under Tracking Info, click on Tracking Code. You will find a website tracking code.
5: Copy this code. This code needs to be added to your website code.
Next, under Admin>Property>Property, you will find your tracking ID.
The tracking ID showcases that Google Analytics is tracking your website.
How do you Read Google Analytics?
To read Google Analytics, you first have to be aware of the basic metrics.
|Visitors||, Each user that visits your website is called a visitor. You can gauge the number of visitors coming to your website through this number.|
|Unique Visitors||A unique visitor is a user who has never come to your website before. This metric tells you how many new potential customers are aware of your brand.|
|Page Views||Page views are the number of times users have seen the website. A single user could visit your website 5 times.|
|Bounce Rate||Bounce rate tells you the number of users who opened your website, but immediately left the site.|
|Average Session Duration||This metric provides information on the average length of time a user remains on your website.|
|Device Category||You become aware of which devices your users are visiting your website through, such as mobile or desktop device.|
|Traffic Channels||This metric tells you whether you are getting visitors through organic search, advertisement, or direct.|
The more you use Google Analytics, the more you become aware of the metrics. The ones I’ve listed above are just some of the basic ones you should be aware of. Each metric tells you how visitors are interacting with your website. For example, a high average session is an indication that the visitors like your website, while a high bounce rate would tell you that your visitors don’t like your website. Traffic channels will indicate how visitors learned about your brand and visit your website. Individually, each metric gives you a small idea of how users are interacting with your website. However, when you piece each of them together, you form a story how users are interacting with your website and you learn whether your ad campaign is successful or not.
How do you Interpret the Google Analytics Data?
The Landing Page
Going back to a previous example – you need to assess whether your Facebook Campaign is successful or not. Ideally, when a user clicks on the ad, he’s taken to a landing page.
Google Analytics allows you to see the metrics on every page. So, if you take a look at the metrics specifically on your landing page, you get a fair idea of how visitors are interacting with your website. Here’s what you should be seeing if your ad campaign is doing well.
- High traffic rate
- High page views
- High average session rate
- High conversion rate
- Low bounce rate
The end result – your ad campaign has generated a lot of leads. HOWEVER, if your ad campaign is not generating leads, you have to take a step back and assess what could be going wrong.
- Is your website getting the right demographic?
- Is your website presenting the right information to the users?
- Is your website design visually appealing for the users?
- Does your website have a strong call to action?
When you start asking questions like these, you can look at the analytical data and build a story.
- Traffic Source: You want to confirm that people visiting your landing page come from the Facebook ad.
- Audience: Audience will tell you that the right people are seeing your ad and visiting your website. You view data on the age, gender, and country of your visitors. For example, your audience are males between the age of 15 and 20, but your landing page is getting visitors over 35, you know that your ad is targeting the wrong audience.
- Page Interaction: Page views, bounce rate, average session and such metrics will together tell you whether your audience found the landing page to be helpful or not. If you have a high bounce rate and a low average session, it indicates that your landing page isn’t helpful. This could be because you are getting the wrong audience, irrelevant information is presented, or the design is terrible.
And so the metrics come together to tell a story of how users are interacting with your website.
The Big Picture
In my above point, I specifically spoke about the landing page. The reason I did that was to keep things simple. However, if you zoom out from the landing page, you immediately enter the bigger picture of users interacting with your website.
Use traffic source, audience, and page interaction metrics to find out how all the visitors are interacting with your website and not just your landing page. One of the most insightful details provided by Google Analytics is the Behavior Flow.
It reveals how users interact with your website. They start from Page A, move on to Page B, and then Page C before exiting your website. If you find that there are an unusually high number of visitors exiting Page C, then you can conclude that it’s a problem page. If you run an e-commerce site, you may discover that 90% of your traffic exits your site on the Checkout Page. This is a major problem because customers fail to take the final step of conversion on your site.
How do you Fix your Website?
Google Analytics provides the data. It is your job to interpret it and make changes to your website. You want to make the website more visitor-friendly and increase the conversation rate. While Google Analytics provides insightful data, it does not provide assessments. The data will not tell you that visitors find the information to be irrelevant or that they find they dislike the website design.
It is only through testing that you will be able to conclude what was wrong with your website in the first place. Take for example, if your landing page has high traffic, high average session, low bounce rate – but poor conversion rate. You can assess through the metrics of high traffic, high average session, and low bounce rate that you provide information the reader is interested in. So, why aren’t visitors converting? You run an A/B test.
You can now conclude that your call to action button wasn’t very visible.
So, how do you fix your website? You conduct A/B testing. A/B testing essentially enables you to launch two version of your web page and see which one does better. Here are some quick steps to conduct an A/B test.
- Identify that there is something wrong with your website. For example: high bounce rate.
- Make an assessment on why the problem is occurring. For example: you have a high bounce rate because your page title doesn’t communicate what the page is about clearly.
- Run an A/B test. Variation A will have the original web page, while Variation B contains the modified web page to prove your assessment. For Example: Variation A Page title: Google Analytics 101; Variation B Page Title: Google Analytics 101: All you need to know about using Google Analytics.
- Review the results and decided whether your assessment holds true or not.
A/B Testing is a very complicated matter. I suggest you read up on an Ultimate A/B Testing guide to learn more.
At the end of the day, you cannot ask each and every visitors what they did and did not like about your website. It’s not physically possible. Google Analytics is able to give your insight into such an answer.
Furthermore, even though I have primarily used a Facebook ad campaign as an example, you should frequently view Google Analytics regardless of whether you’re running a campaign or not. At the end of the day, Google Analytics can help you improve the web experience you offer customers. You have spent time and money to build and launch your website. And, you want to ensure that it is creating brand awareness and boosting your sales. If you’re providing a poor website experience to your users, then you need to be aware of it.
So use Google Analytics, identify the scope of improvement, and use A/B testing to give your users an enhanced web experience. There is a treasure trove of information just waiting to be tapped. At first, it might look and seem complicated, but the more you use this tool, the better you will understand it.