How to Use Google Analytics – Part II
In the How to Use Google Analytics – Part I post, I went through several of the main sections in the Audience part of Google Analytics as well as the new social stats available. The next step is to understand how those visitors are finding you and where they are going once they are on your site.
The Traffic Sources information can help you determine what parts of your marketing are working, because it shows how people came to your site (direct, referrals, or search). You can measure the effectiveness of your marketing by watching for increases in direct traffic related to sales calls or increases in referrals for online link building or media relations campaigns. You can also see how well your website is doing in the search engines.
Traffic Sources: Referrals
This section shows what sites are referring traffic your way. Getting referral links and traffic from other websites is extremely important when it comes to search engine optimization because it shows that your site has good information. Keep an eye on this section as it will often reveal online articles, blog posts, etc. where your site is referenced. Plus, if you are doing an online banner ads, you can watch your referral traffic here to make sure that the visitors you are receiving during the campaign are staying on the site long enough to justify the cost of the ads.
Tip: See a referring site you are curious about? There is a small box next to the urls that will attempt to take you to the referring site. You will find this link after clicking on a referring site name on the main Referrals page.
Traffic Sources: Search: Organic & Paid
Ever wondered how people found your website when doing a Google search? Well, this section will tell you just that. You can look at the organic keywords used in addition to the keywords you are using for your Google AdWords campaign. It shows what people typed into the search engine before finding your site. At the top of the list will generally be variations of your company name, but you also want to see industry terms. For us at Red Sage, we hope to see things like “Decatur Marketing Firm,” “Huntsville Web Design,” or “Alabama Marketing Company”.
For those of you curious what the line for (Not Provided) means, here’s the explanation. Google has opted to not share the keywords that their signed-in users are using. For those of us trying to optimize content, this can be quite frustrating because we don’t know fully how well our content is doing. For most of our customers though, the information that Google does provide is enough to get the general idea of how their site is performing in the search engines.
Tip: If you ever choose to do a paid Google AdWords campaign, connect your AdWords account with your Google Analytics account. AdWords shows you your impression and click-thru rates, but Analytics will show you your bounce rate, average visit duration, and visitor path. That will allow you to evaluate the success of the campaign much better.
Content: Site Content: All Pages
I primarily use the All Pages report within the content section. This report will let you see what pages on your site are receiving the most traffic and retaining the most visitors (higher avg. visitor duration vs. high bounce rates). You can use the secondary dimension drop down option on this page to see how customers came to the page, what keywords they used to get to the page, and where visitors on a certain page are located in the world. This report is especially useful when introducing new content to the website or when evaluating changes to existing content. It is also a great way to evaluate the popularity of blog posts and white papers.
Tip: There is a way to track PDF downloads in Google Analytics. Google provides the instructions in this article about how to track PDF downloads in Google Analytics.
Beyond the Basics
Everything we’ve discussed so far will give you a good start on using Google Analytics. There are so many more things available to you though, so I strongly encourage you to explore and experiment with the other tools and features available through Google Analytics. Google offers a lot of videos and articles in the Google Analytics help center to help you tackle more complicated things such as setting up goals and conversions, creating custom reports, and setting up experiments. Don’t forget that you can link ConstantContact campaigns, AdWords, and other tools to your Google Analytics account to increase your ability to track the effectiveness of those areas of your marketing as well.