A simple guide to using Google Analytics

13 September 2015

A simple guide to using Google AnalyticsIf you have a website, then you need to be using Google Analytics. There is absolutely no exception. For most [including small businesses], this is something that a web developer will set up as part of the design and build process.

It’s one of the most valuable and free tools available to help you learn about your audience, and how they interact with your website. This can provide some valuable insights

While many business users know what Analytics is and does; they can get lost in how to use the site, not knowing which metrics really matter.

In this post we provide an easy-to-follow guide to using Analytics.

Logging into Google Analytics

You’ll need to know your login and password.

Most of you are familiar with this display of information on the home page.

Now, let’s breakdown what these metrics actually mean:

A simple guide to using Google Analytics 1

Sessions Vs. Users

Some of the wording may be confusing because it has changed.  A visit to your website is called a ‘session’ and unique visitors (that is individual visitors to your website ) are now called ‘Users’.

From the information above we see that there have been 1,954 total visits from 1,613 unique visitors. The difference between the two is the number of times users has returned to your website. No matter how many times a user visits your website, Google identifies them by their individual IP address and will count them just the once.

The Sessions graph shown above allows you to visually track the number of visits across any period you prescribe (can alter using the dropdown in the top right hand corner). Hover over any of the dots/dates and you will see how many sessions occurred.

Page Views Vs. Page Sessions

Page views indicates how many pages on your website have been viewed in total across the month. This is valuable as it allows you to see which of your pages are the most popular. You may also realize that some of the pages on your site don’t receive any traffic and can start asking the question why?

Google allows you to drill down further into this metric. In a follow-up post, we’ll look at how to access this information using a custom dashboard.

So what is the general pattern for your average website user? Page/session provides some insight. This indicates that according to the above analytics, Users access on average 4/5 pages during their visit. Obviously you want to keep visitors engaged with the content and pages you have on your website, so more pages per session is definitely a positive thing.

Session Duration & Bounce Rate

One of the (thankfully) more straightforward metric is Session Duration. It means what it states – yippee – meaning that as shown the average session for a visitor is 2:52. That means that visitors are spending almost 3 minutes at a time on the website, looking at images, reading content and flicking through pages. People are always curious about Bounce Rate. This helps you determine the percentage of people who people land on your website and leave without visiting any other page. More technically it is described as a function of visitor behavior over expectation. You want to try and keep your bounce rate as low as possible. Monitoring this metric can help you identify if you are perhaps attracting the wrong people, perhaps there are some changes to make.

Teach yourself

It is worth investing some extra time to get to know Google Analytics a little better. To get straight to the source you can visit the Analytics Training Centre, which contains a variety of training resources including videos to help you navigate your understanding.

Keep your eyes peeled in coming weeks as MIH shares some more Google Analytics tips and insights including this piece on how to build your Google Analytics custom dashboard – view the most important pieces of data one page.

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