data, getting started |

Getting Started with Google Analytics

Here at Luna Lab Co., we’re very data-driven. We love to crunch numbers and make strategic decisions based on facts. Our weapon of choice when it comes to collecting information on website visitor behavior is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a powerful (and FREE) tool that can provide amazing insights into how your customers (and potential customers) browse your website.

Analytics can tell us tons of useful information about users’ experiences. We’ll take an in depth look at each of the following in this post:

1. Visitor count

At a very basic level, you can see how many users visited your site over a given period of time. For example, “How many people have visited my website in the past seven days?” or “How many people visited my website last Tuesday?”

2. Behavior

You can get detailed information about how users interact with your site: what page they entered on, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, and what page they exited from. These figures help you understand visitor trends — both positive and negative. This can help determine what kind of content will keep users coming back, staying on your site longer, or browsing other sections of your site to engage with other content.

3. Referrals

Knowing where your users come from (for example: a Google search, from a Facebook post, or directly from our URL) can help determine where you may want to focus your marketing efforts and budget. Referrals tell you where a user was before they landed on your site.

4. Device statistics

Worldwide, mobile devices are king right now, but do you know how many of your visitors use a mobile phone versus those that use a desktop computer or tablet? Knowing what kind of device your typical customers browse with can help determine the features and functionality you should have on your site. (Hint: responsive websites are a must!)

5. Popular content

By understanding which content (pages, blog posts, articles, etc) are popular with your users, you can build future content around similar topics to boost traffic and user loyalty.

There’s plenty more data that Google Analytics provides, but this is a great starting point. Pull up your own website’s Google Analytics (analytics.google.com) and follow along! (Not set up with Google Analytics? Read the instructions here.)

Visitor Info — counts and devices statistics

Right away, you can see some valuable information on the Google Analytics homepage — how many users you’ve had in the past seven days, what times of day they visit, and how many visitors are active on your site right now. Dig a little deeper by clicking the “audience overview” link.

Google Analytics Audience Overview

Here, we dive a little deeper into visitor behavior. You can select a wider date range (perhaps the past 30 days), and compare to a previous time period to see your trends. By default, the line graph shows total “users.” If you’d like, you can add another metric to compare to, such as “new users.” In the example above, we see an audience overview from last month, and we can see that on April 28, 2018, we had a total of 816 visitors, 654 of which were first-time vistors to the site.

Below the chart, we see totals for the time period, including:

  • Users. The total unique number of visitors to your site.
  • New users. The total number of visitors to your site that have never visited in the past.
  • Sessions. The number of times your users returned.
  • Number of sessions per user. The average number of times a user has returned.
  • Pageviews. The total number of individual pages all of your users visited.
  • Average session duration. The average length of time a user spends on any part of your site before leaving.
  • Bounce rate. The percentage of visitors that enter and leave on the same page.

Check out all of the numbers and options below the chart. Depending on your goals, some of these other statistics may or may not be interesting or important to you.

Device Statistics Another useful metric about your users is what kind of device they’re using to view your website (mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer).

Referrals — see how your customers found your website

Keeping an eye on referral traffic is a great way to see what other sites are talking about you. Did your blog post get shared by another organization? Is your Facebook out performing your other social media channels? In the left-hand navigation, click “Acquisition” > “Overview” to start to getting a sense of your top referrers.

Google Analytics Acquisition Overview

With the example above, we can immediately see that the bulk of the traffic is “social.” If you set up a goal, you can track your progress compared to your goal over time. (More on Goals in Google Analytics coming in a future blog post!)

Scrolling down, we can see more metrics on our top referrers. Depending on how you promote your website (social media promotions on Facebook, paid advertising with Google Adwords, influencer marketing, etc.) you can get a sense of how well your marketing dollars are working for you. By setting up goals or tracking conversions, you can get a sense of your return-on-investment as it pertains to your online advertising budget.

Popular Content — build your content around what your customers want to see!

It can be very useful to understand which content best resonates with your visitors. If you write articles or blog posts, you can determine what people like and craft future content around what your users are most likely to engage with and share. In the left-hand navigation, click on “Behavior” > “Site Content” > “All Pages.” The table displayed is sorted by total number of pageviews in your selected date range.

Google Analytics Visitor Behavior

Take a look at your top performing pages and see if you can identify a trend — content topic, author, method you shared it, etc. — to try and figure out what made it popular. If you see an obvious trend, keep that in mind as you craft and share future content. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sort the list by lowest number of pageviews by clicking on the “Pageviews” header. If you see any outliers here, maybe that content doesn’t resonate with users in the way you expected — time to iterate and try again!

There’s plenty more!

This was a very high-level overview of the basics of Google Analytics. There are plenty of other features and statistics available inside this very powerful tool — goals, event tracking, conversion tracking, campaign tracking, and more — Poke around and see what other kinds of information you can uncover! If you would like us to review the numbers with you and explain what they tell us about your business, get in touch!

Can you see the power in having all of this information (and more) at your fingertips? We install Google Analytics on all of our clients’ websites (because we love the data), but with a few steps and a small bit of code, you can install Google Analytics on any website that you own. Need help? We’re only a phone call or email away!

About the author

Nick VanMeter is the Co-founder and Digital Director of Luna Lab Company. He specializes in growing brands online through web design and development, search engine optimization, and social media management. Get in touch by emailing nick@lunalabco.com or calling 970.673.4472.

You may also like...