Posted on 18 December, 2019  |  5 min

Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics provide an in-depth view of your business’ online footprint and effectiveness. They allow you to drill down into various areas of your website or app and provide insights that give you a complete picture of performance – including identifying any gaps

Google Analytics is one of the most commonly-used online analytics tools, used to track your website data and distil it into useful metrics to evaluate success. Google Analytics metrics cover visitor behaviour – including where people enter your website, where they exit and after how long – and demographics, traffic sources and goal conversions, amongst other things.

Now, while Google Analytics makes this information easily accessible, it’s not always simple to translate it into meaningful insights to grow your business. For this, we review some key metrics, looking at what they are and how you can best use them.

The Basics

Session

A session is the time a user is active on your website or app. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity, users that leave the site and return within 30 minutes are counted as part of the original session.

Page views

This is a measure of the number of times a web page is viewed. It’s a cumulative number and records every visit – so, if a visitor refreshes the web page, or leaves the page and returns later, these are counted as additional page views.

Page views helps you to understand how visitors interact with your website, for example, which content or product pages are receiving the most hits. You can use this information to shape your website to attract and engage with potential and existing customers.

Unique page views

Unique page views are the number of sessions during which a page was viewed. This metric counts the number of times a page is viewed by a visitor in one session as a single event (or a unique page view).

Users

This metric records the number of visitors to your website who have had at least one session within the selected date range; it includes new and returning users.

Tracking monthly users helps you to understand if your website’s audience is increasing, decreasing or remains unchanged.

User Behaviour

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter and then leave your website without viewing other pages. It’s presented as a percentage and doesn’t factor in how a visitor landed on that page or how long they were there.

This metric can be used to identify which pages users find engaging, as well as those that could be improved to support more positive customer actions.

Exit rate

Exit rate is the percentage of visitors to a page on your website that exit the website from that page (to another site). With this information, you can begin to understand which website pages engage your users. The number of exits correlates with the performance of your website and signifies whether it's user-friendly.

Average Time on Page

This metric shows you how much time on average is spent by visitors on a page, measuring the effectiveness of that page.

The time a visitor spends on a page suggests whether they have connected with your content. More visitors spending less time on a page can be a matter of concern, indicating the page/content needs to be re-evaluated.

Website Traffic

Traffic sources: Direct vs Referral

Traffic sources tell you exactly how visitors got to your website – be that via a search engine, social media, digital marketing campaigns, or other. Google Analytics splits this into direct – a visitor types your URL into their browser – and referral traffic – where a visitor lands on your page by clicking a link.

Knowing the source of your website traffic can help you to better target potential and existing customers, focus on the channels that work best for you and identify any gaps.

Search Traffic: Organic vs Paid

If you’re looking for a more granular view of traffic coming from search engines, Google Analytics has the data. Not only can you see the percentage of traffic coming from search engines, but this is also broken down into organic and paid search.

Organic search shows those who entered your site by clicking organic (unpaid) links on the search engine results page. While the paid search results show users who clicked on one of your paid search engine adverts – for example, Google Ads.

This data can be used to assess how well your website is performing in search engine results (and the strength of your SEO) and how well any paid campaigns you’re running are performing.

Tailored Insights

Goals

Google Analytics allows you to set goals to monitor the conversion rate of activities such as users completing a contact form or an online transaction, or spending a defined period engaging with your site. You can also assign a monetary value to each goal completion. This helps you to estimate the return on investment on these activities.

Summary

Given the data that you get from web analytics tools, the potential is endless. Tools such as Google Analytics can uncover valuable data about your audience – the more that you know, the more informed decisions that you can make.

Of course, the metrics that matter most to your business will depend on what your goals are.

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