I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Google Analytics is NOT the easiest tool to use. And this is from someone whose holds a GAIQ!
There were plenty of times when I used it over the years before I got certified, and this was my ritual: Confident that I could figure it out, because I had figured out plenty of apps before, went in, mumbled a few curses, exhaled sharply, threw my hands up, walked away and came back even more confused than before.
Like you, I’ve been overwhelmed and confused by GA, because it’s not intuitive and does require some guidance to get the basics down and done. But don’t worry, I’ll help you use it anyway. Here’s where you start:
Look at Your Analytics Like An Executive
When you’re trying to get your bearings, it’s good to focus on the basics. The thing with Google Analytics, the thing that makes it so intimidating to many, is that you need to approach it with a question.
You don’t and you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, and mumbling four-letter words. Here’s are four basic questions any site owner needs to know:
How many visitors do I have a day?
This is one of the basic questions, because it does make you feel like it’s not all for nothing when someone else, other than you, checks out your site. The quickest way to find this with the Audience >> Overview report
Where are visitors coming from?
To find out where your visitors are coming from, you’ll need to check out the Acquisition >> Overview report
If you’re running an AdWords campaign and have your AdWords account connected to Analytics, expect to see Paid as part of this pie chart. Otherwise, you have direct, which means someone probably typed in your URL; Social, from a social network; Referral, meaning another site had your URL and someone clicked; and Organic, meaning your listing came up in a regular search and someone clicked.
Where are visitors landing?
Once they’re showing up on your site, you’ll need to understand on which page did they enter. You can use the
Behavior >> Site Content >>Landing Pages report
If you’ve put money behind promoting a specific page, you’ll see this page getting a majority of the landings in many cases. You’ll want to pay attention to the other pages people may land as they could provide other promotion opportunities. Also, look at the number of pages per session as well as the average session duration. This will help you understand how people are responding (or not) to your content .
What device are they using?
Desktop, Mobile, or Tablet? Check the Audience >>Mobile >> Overview report
Everyone is focused on mobile, as they should, because in 2018, the forecast is for more than 52% of web traffic to come from mobile. It would be stupid to ignore that, but let’s not ignore desktop. People still have home machines that they use robustly, as not all sites are mobile friendly. Yet.
The idea is that once you get used to these basics, more questions will start to crop up in your mind, and you’ll become more adventurous in your curiosity. One question you may want to know at some point is…When are visitors most engaged?
This can help you decide if you want to focus your advertising on a certain time of the day or perhaps adjust your bid to be more aggressive. You find this out by going to Audience >>Behavior>>New vs Returning and then adding a secondary dimension of Day of the Week Name.
What you’ll get is a horizontal bar chart of strongest days for new visitors and returning visitors. Maybe on the days you have strongest traffic, you can run a sale or offer visitors some special PDF download, white paper, you name it.
One of the benefits of Google Analytics is when you break it down and start from a top-level point of view, it’s less scary. Check it out and let me know what other questions are coming up for you.