Understanding how well your website is performing is critical to your success online. Luckily, Google Analytics can help you to get valuable insights into your site’s health and how your customers are using your website. This powerful (and free) tool gives you access to a plethora of data, which can be intimidating, especially if you’re just getting started online.
In this post we’ll boil it down to four metrics that every site owner needs to check on a regular basis.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to collect visitor data from your website. By analysing this data you can get important information into how visitors are using your website.
To use it you need to sign up for a Google Analytics account and then add a simple code to every page on your site. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to access all sorts of useful data. Here’s how it looks:
Once you get a bit acquainted with the dashboard, here are the four Google Analytics metrics we believe are critical to watch.
4 essential Google Analytics metrics to monitor
1. Visits, unique visitors and page views
It’s essential to know how many visits your site is getting on average per week or per month, or how this number is changing compared to a previous week or month. The number of visits, unique visitors and page views can give you insights into how many people are visiting your site and how many pages they’re viewing.
Here’s the low-down on these numbers:
- Visits refers to the number of times a website was visited
- Page views are the total number of pages that visitors looked at on a site
- Unique visitors represent the number of people who visited our site
- If you visit domainmonster.com tomorrow and look at our ‘home’ page, our ‘about’ page, and our ‘contact’ page, that would count as 1 visit and 3 page views.
- If you return to domainmonster.com in one week and look at the same pages again, that will count as 1 more visit and 3 more page views. However, it will only count as 1 visitorsince it’s the same person visiting twice.
Why are these metrics important? First off, any site owner needs to know how many people are visiting their site. Secondly, you also need to determine whether your important pages are getting enough views. Are enough people going to your Contact page or filling out a form to get in touch or to book a consultation? If you have an online shop, are people going to the checkout page and how does this compare to the number of completed purchases? Also, are lots of people visiting a page that you thought is not very important such as an About Us page?
If some of your pages are getting a lot of page views, make sure you review them to ensure they include useful information that people might be searching for. If you’ve getting few page views, you might want to re-work that page and add a bit more interesting content to make it as sticky as possible.
2. Bounce rate
A “bounce” occurs when a visitors leaves your site after viewing only one page. They usually click the back button or close the browser tab. An increase in bounce rate can be a clue that the user didn’t find what they were looking for on your site, which is why they decided to leave. This is just like when someone walks into a store, takes a quick look around and immediately walks back out.
If you go to Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages you will be able to see the bounce rate for your top pages.
Obviously you can’t reduce your bounce rate to zero but it’s important to get it as low as possible. Every lost visitor is a lost opportunity so you’ll want to investigate and find out why people are leaving and what you can do to keep them around for longer.
Some issues that can use a higher bounce rate are: irrelevant content, incorrect keyword targeting, poor design and user experience and slow page load speed. So look at these things when you try to identify the cause and then make adjustments accordingly.
3. Traffic sources
Keeping track of where your visitors are coming from is extremely important if you want to grow your website. Finding out if a big chunk of your traffic is coming from search engines or from specific websites will tell you a lot about where you need to focus your marketing efforts, or if you need to diversify your traffic sources.
To find out where your traffic is coming from go to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source/ Medium.
If you get a lot of search engine traffic it means that people are genuinely interested in your website’s content. Traffic from other sources, such as social traffic or traffic from different websites can be equally good at pulling people in. However, you’ll need to monitor this and keep updating your social profiles to attract even more visitors to your site.
4. Conversion rate
This is an important metric to monitor as it tells you if visitors find your content convincing enough to take an action or if your website looks trustworthy so they feel comfortable enough to buy from you.
A low conversion rate can mean different things. It’s possible that you’re not keeping people on your site long enough for them to complete an action. Or there are too many steps that they have to complete to purchase a product so they get frustrated and leave before finalising the order. Putting fewer steps between the time a visitor lands on your site and the time they complete an action can help boost your conversion rate.
Read this short guide to learn how to set up and track conversion rates in Google Analytics.
These metrics will give you a better understanding of what works on your site and what doesn’t, what attracts your visitors, what makes them want to visit more pages or what discourages them from buying from you. It will also give you ideas of what you need to improve in order to increase traffic and conversions.
What other Google Analytics metrics are you monitoring and how do you use the data to improve your site?