Traffic, traffic, traffic. The word is everywhere where you read things related to your site, because it is one of the most important parameters of your site. It is the amount of people’s interaction with your site. Google knows it and gives us a tool named Google Analytics. Google Analytics basically is a web-based tool that allows you to see your website’s performance. You can see many things that will be useful to improve your site; you can know how many people visit your site, where they come from, how they found your site, and which pages are viewed the most. However, most people who are not tech-savvy get confused to work the tool (like me, for example) for the first time, and it may be overwhelming. So, here’s my version of Google Analytics basic guide!
Getting Google Analytics Account
The first thing to do is to create your Google Analytics account. Go to Google Analytics page, click ‘Sign In’ on the top-right of the page, then choose ‘Google Analytics’. You can set it up with your Google account or creating a new one. After that, click ‘Sign Up’ button on the left. Fill the information needed, then click the ‘Get Tracking ID’ button. A Google Analytics terms and conditions pop up will appear, which you have to agree to, then you will get your tracking ID along with tracking code. You can input the tracking code into your website manually or simply use a plugin such as Google Analytics by MonsterInsights if you have WordPress-based site. You can also find it later through Admin menu. On the Property section, choose Tracking Info > Tracking Code.
You need to wait for about 24 hours after installing Google Analytics on your website to be able to get and view your data.
Reading The Analytics
Once your account has been fully set up, you can start getting your data. When you log in to your account, you will be directed to the Home page. Click ‘All Web Site Data’, then you will be directed to the Reporting page that automatically display the ‘Audience Overview’. This is the basic report of your website’s traffic. First, you can set up the data based on specific period of time you want from the top-right of the page. You can also compare your data from one date range to another by checking the Compare box.
Now you have to get to know how to read the information on the Audience Overview.
Sessions: the total number of how many times your site is visited. Means if I visit your website then open many pages from there, it is still counted as one session. By default, the session duration is set to 30 minutes. If I leave your website opened for 30 minutes (no activity) then return, it’s counted as a new session. You can also see the number of session per date on the line chart.
Users: the total number of people who visited your site. Note that when someone visit your page more than once, he/she will be counted like the visiting times. For example, I visited your website yesterday, then I visit it again today, I will be counted as two users.
Pageviews: the number of times people view page on your site. When I visit your site, I will see your home page, which will be count as one pageview. When I move from your home to your article page, then I have done two pageviews. If I return to the home page, then I have done three pageviews, but if I refresh your article page, it is counted as an additional pageview.
Pages/Session: the average number of pages viewed when someone visit your website. If someone viewed two pages in a session and another person viewed one page in a session, then the Pages/Session would be 2+1/2= 1,5.
Avg. Session Duration: the average length of time that each visitor spends on your site.
Bounce Rate: the percentage of people who bounce from your site. When I landed on a page of your website then I left immediately without browsing further, I have bounced from your site. If there are 100 people visit a page on your site, then 80 of them immediately close the page or hit back button to the previous page, your bounce rate is 80%. Many factors can be the cause of your bounce rate. Some cases can be that people have found what they need in a single page, your navigation website isn’t clear enough, and the load speed is slow.
% New Sessions: the percentage of people who visit your site for the first time. Through the pie chart on the right, you can see the percentage of new and returning visitor.
From the Audience Overview you can also see some data of people who visit your page. You can know which country they are from, the browser app they use, even the service provider they use. You can explore more about your site’s visitor from the Audience tab on the left side menu.
From this section, you can get the information about where people found your website (still in the specified date range you choose). Click the ‘Acquisition’ on the left side menu, then you may choose ‘Overview’. The pie chart on the ‘Top Channel’ shows you the percentage of each traffic source that have lead people to your site.
Referral: the number of people who visit your website by clicking the link of your site on other sites. For instance, I read a review on someone’s site then I click a link to your site that appears on the article. It means I visit your site through the referral site.
Direct: the number of people who visit your website by directly typing your website address on the address bar on the browser.
Social: the number of people who visit your website by clicking a link on the social media.
Organic Search: the number of people who visit your website through a search engine like Google. It can be when people search for keywords related to your site.
You can click the each source to gain further information. For instance, you will see which social media site that lead people to your site if you click the ‘Social’ link. Please be aware that you may get a spam on the list of the referral sites (the name of the sites may be strange or ridiculous, e.g. 7makemoneyonline.com).
In the Behavior report, you can see what visitor do on your site, pages that is visited, and what actions they take on those pages. You can also know which content in your site viewed the most. This report section basically is about the page on your site. In the Behavior Overview, you can see the list of top 10 page in your site that gain the most visit. Usually the number one viewed page is listed as ‘/’, referring to your website home page.
Additional Tips to Improve Your Website
Google Analytics is really useful to help on making your website better. You can try these basic shortcuts to know what you can do.
- Go to Audience > Geo > Location if you need to know where your audience are come from. Right below the map, you can click ‘City’ if you want to know their cities instead of countries. This can be helpful you if you’re doing local marketing and want to know how well your marketing efforts are doing.
- Go to Audience > Mobile > Overview to know what device people use to open your site. Do they mostly use desktops, mobiles, or tablets? Responsive design of your theme determines this report. People nowadays are likely to use their mobiles more than desktops, that’s why we always design mobile-friendly theme to improve the visiting experience.
- Besides clicking the link on the Overview page, you can find out the specific sites that send you traffic by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. This is where you also should be aware of the spam websites.
- Navigate to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages if you want to know the pages that people first landed on when they visited your website. If the top landing page is home page with a very high bounce rate, you might want to reconsider changing the layout or adding extra information so that visitors could have better understanding about your site.
- To know the last pages that people visit before leaving your website, you can go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. It can give you some insights on keeping visitors on your website longer.
- You can learn how fast your website loads from Behavior > Site Speed > Overview. If you need suggestions from Google to make your website faster, go to Behavior > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions.
- If needed, you can share your data with other people by going to Admin menu. Under the Account section, click ‘User Management, then add email address of anyone you would like to view your data. Don’t forget to choose the permission you give them for the data.
That’s it. After learning this basic guide, you can explore more of Google Analytics benefits to make your website better and gain more audience! If you have any question or opinion, feel free to drop it on the comment.