Most of my clients come to me wanting to improve their search results presence and overall website traffic. You don’t have to be Google Analytics Certified to find actionable data that will help you make better SEO decisions. It certainly helps to have advanced knowledge of Google Analytics if managing SEO campaigns with specific goal and conversion strategies. For me, it is an indispensable tool.
Before we dive into the metrics let’s discuss a couple of important housekeeping items. I see a lot of clients who have previously worked with someone (either a hired consultant, former employee, previous business partner or in one case ex-spouse) who setup Google Analytics in a private account. This is a really bad idea and almost always ends up being a mess. All of your Google assets should be associated with a business account like firstname.lastname@example.org or some official email account controlled by the business. Retrieving and accessing accounts from former spouses or employees can prove to be difficult. Treat this like an important business document that you would safely store.
The other advice I will offer is make sure you properly link your Google Analytics account to your Search Console. If you are not sure how to do that, here is a link to Google Support on that topic.
Here are 5 tips on how to scrape high level metrics that can help you better understand who is visiting your website, what devices they are using and how they engage with your content.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you have the date range set as you want it before diving into the details. In the upper right hand corner you will see a dropdown so you can adjust the date for the time period you want to analyze. Reviewing the last 30 days is usually a good place to start.
This is the main dashboard view when you login to your account. It is a great high level visual impression of website activity with information about user engagement while on the site.
Users: the total number of times your website has been visited.
New Users: the number of people who have visited your website (excludes duplicate visits from the same person using the same device).
Sessions: the total number of times a page on your website has been viewed.
Number of sessions per user: How many sessions occurred during a specific user visit.
Pageviews: An instance of a page being loaded or re-loaded in a browser.
Pages/Sessions: the average number of pages a person looked at on their visit to your website.
Avg. session duration: the average length of time people spend on your website. If this is very short (e.g. under 1 minute), your website might not be engaging people enough.
Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who leave your website after seeing only one page. A high bounce rate (e.g. above 40%) can either indicate design / usability issues with your website, or people might have found everything they needed on that one page and therefore had no need to visit other pages.
Where are your visitors located?
Have you ever wanted to know where your website visitors are located? There is a very useful report built into analytics that allows you to see exactly where your visitors are located when they come to your website. From the left hand navigation go to Audience > Geo > Location. Scroll down and you will see a list of the top 10 countries your visitors are located. From there you can drill down into a specific country – if the United States you can drill down another layer and see the list of States. Click on a state and you will see a list of the cities that traffic is coming from. If you were running a paid advertising campaign, this could be very useful for targeting an audience in a specific region. Or, it can be used to tailor content for different areas of the country or world. The possible uses are endless.
What devices are your visitors using to find your site?
Does it really matter what devices your website visitors are using to find and navigate your site? After all, they found you and are perusing what you have to offer, right? Wrong! Knowing what device (desktop or mobile) your visitors use can help you understand how to create and deliver content, particularly for local business SEO. Imagine someone new to the area using their mobile phone looking for a local barber, coffee shop, pizza place or the type of retail store you own. Knowing that the rise in “near me” or “close by” searches is up 44% over last year, isn’t it useful to
How are they getting to your website?
When you are trying to decide on how to allocate your marketing resources it might be useful to know how many referrals are coming from social media or how a specific email campaign performed. It can also be helpful to know which source is providing the majority of your organic traffic. To see these metrics you can navigate to Acquisition > Channels. To view the Source column click on Secondary dimension above the table of data, scroll down to Acquisition and select Source.
Which pages are they visiting?
Knowing which pages of content are performing well can help you make decisions about future content. To see the top performing pages on your site, navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. To see the page they exited from select Secondary dimension above the graph and scroll down to behavior. Select Exit Page from the list.
Google Analytics offers a treasure trove of useful, actionable information. Spend some time each month reviewing the data and you will become a better SEO strategist.