How to use Google Analytics to identify oportunities on your website.

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 9:57:39 AM EST by

If you're in charge of a website, Google Analytics is a wonderful tool that can help you. It gives you details on how visitors to your website interact with your website.

However, many webmasters struggle to work out how to translate this valuable information into actionable tasks. If you are a novice when it comes to Google Analytics, you're not alone. If you're in this category, this article is for you! Read on for pointers on starting to get some benefit from Google Analytics.

Business Intelligence the Easy Way!

You probably receive an email every week with a report from Google Analytics. Sure the graphs look pretty, and hopefully the numbers look good. But what are you actually supposed to do with this information?

Firstly, I'd recommend actually getting into the habit of logging into your Google Analytics account. This way you can interact with the data, something you can't do from a PDF report.

Next, you need to identify what particular areas you want to monitor and track. If you're new to Google Analytics, you might want to consider these simple metrics:

  1. Where do your visitors come from?
  2. Where on your site are they arriving?
  3. What keywords are people using to find your website?

Let's look at how you can track these, and also why you want to.

1. Where do your visitors come from?

To view this data in your own Google Analytics account, log in (www.google.com/analytics) and select Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic (refer to image below).

googleanalyticsnavmenu  

This will give you a detailed view on where your visitors find you. See the screenshot below - yours should be similar.

googleanalyticstrafficsources

(If your screenshot looks slightly different, you may want to try the new version - there will be a link at the top the page giving you this choice)

This screenshot shows that the top source of visitor traffic in this instance, comes from Google. Furthermore, it shows that specifically this is organic traffic, which means it wasn't driven by paid ads. The second highest source is direct traffic, which is visitors typing in the website address directly into their browser. Some of the other sources show where traffic is coming from 3rd party websites that contain a link back to the website we're tracking.

How is this useful?

There are a few ways in which this data is useful. Firstly, as a business owner, you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. For example, the image above shows a really large percentage of visitors are coming from Google Search. While this is great, relying on any source too heavily can backfire if it ever dries up. While I don't expect Google search to dry up anytime soon, Google does change their algorithims on a frequent basis, and you may find your search rankings drop unexpectedly.

The screenshot above demonstrates the need to diversify the sources of incoming traffic. The best way to do this is getting more links from other sources. Although you'll find not many links will compete with the volume Google search provides, collectively many links can reduce the reliance on Google. Ironically, gaining extra links often aids your search rankings, but that is another post for another time.

This also give you an idea of how well various paid directory links are working for you. In the screenshot above, one of the sources is from a website for a well known telephone directory. Often, these listings are paid for, so tracking the number of visitors from this listing can aid in making an informed decision when it comes time to renew the listing.

2. Where on your site are they arriving?

Knowing what pages people are arriving at is really useful information. If you assume that everyone lands on your home page first, you'd be mistaken.

To find out what pages vistiors are landing on, go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages (refer to the image below).

landingpagesnavmenu You might be surprised what pages on your site visitors are seeing first. Sure, you're home page might look fantastic, but more than likely a significant portion of your traffic arrives at other pages. What first impression are you giving these visitors?

To demonstrate, here is a screenshot of our top ten landing pages according to Google Analytics.

sitezerolandingpages 

Sure, the bulk of the visitors arrive via the home page, but in total 25% of our traffic arrives from other pages. Often, the figure is much higher.

So ask yourself, what pages are people landing on that need improvement? What pages are people landing on that I don't want them arriving at first? Using the intelligence from this section of Google Analytics allows you to implement necessary changes to improve the experience of visitors and to improve the results you get from your website.

3. What keywords are people using to find your website?


organickeywords

Identifying and using keywords that are relevant to your business is good practice. When done properly, this helps you to focus your web content in a way that makes it easier for both visitors and the search engines to use your website.

There are a few different methods to do keyword research, but one often overlooked method is using Google Analytics to see what keywords are already being used by visitors to find your site in the search engines.

You can get this information from your Google Analytics by going to Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic (see the image to the left).

A few questions to ask yourself about the results you get are:

  • Are the keywords relevant to my business and the goods or services I provide?
  • Do I have a page on my website for each relevant keyword that specifically discusses the subject?
  • Are there any good keywords that I'm not getting traffic from?

Depending on how you answer these questions depends on what tasks you need to take up. Obviously, the goal is to ensure you are focusing on keywords that are relevant to your business. Over time, you can actually measure the effectiveness of various keywords, to determine which keywords tend to be more profitable.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool. Although it is fairly easy to use, it can be intimidating to the novice user. This is just scratching the surface of what business intelligence you can glean from Google Analytics. But it is a start, and something you can action. Keep an eye out for future articles outling some other usefuls things you can do with Google Analytics.

Please feel free to leave any comments below, or contact SiteZero for more information today.


Stephen Hamilton is a Search Engine Marketing Consultant at SiteZero.

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Comments

Comment by: Stephen Hamilton
Dec 5, 2011 at 8:36 AM
Thanks Liane! I'm glad it was helpful. We encourage all business owners to regularly use their web analytics to identify areas they can work on to improve the performance of their website.
Comment by: Liane Rothwell
Nov 7, 2011 at 2:17 PM
Thanks for this blog - I found it really helpful, as I definitely haven't been making the most of the weekly reports I have been receiving.
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