As previously said in the digital world, almost everything can be tracked. To see the data and interpret it, you need to use web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics etc. With around 54% of all websites using Google Analytics, this solution is undoubtedly the most popular and known tool for web analytics. So, by using a web tool analytics you gain access to a wide range of data. But how do you interpret it? Let’s take a look at how to do so through the most popular tool, Google Analytics.
Google Analytics uses a system known as ABC. The acronym stands for “Acquisition”, “Behaviour”, and “Conversions”. Basically, this means that Google tracks the way the audience reaches a website, the way they behave on it, and the actions the take whilst on it.This is a lot of data, that may confuse you, but all of it is useful as it is a piece of a bigger puzzle. Let’s see how to look and interpret the data every step of the way.
First things first, Google looks at how people reach your website and divides them into categories:
- Organic search - these results represent the people who’ve found your website by typing different keywords. This way they’ve come across your website in a manner that spurs out of their needs or interest. This metric can also indicate you how good is your current SEO strategy.
- Direct - this metric represents the number of people who’ve accessed your website by typing directly your address, as well as those who’ve entered your site via a bookmark. These people have a clear knowledge of your website prior to accessing it.
- Paid Searches - the number here is the result of an Ad campaign such as those made through Google Adwords.
- Social - this represents all the people who accessed your website pages from Social Media.
Another thing to look at is the “Referrals”, as they show which websites have links to your own website. Basically, this metric indicates which websites drive traffic to yours. You can analyze them and see if you can establish partnerships that will benefit your company’s communication strategy.
All of these metrics will give you a clear picture as to from where the traffic to your website comes, as well as which is the most important channel for your website. With this info, you can improve your SEO strategy as well as your advertising efforts.
People access different websites with a purpose. This means that every website has a certain goal. By precisely knowing what your goal is (to buy something, read some info, etc) you can monitor how people react on your website, or if they do the things you want them to do on it. At this stage, for every page as well as for the overall website you can see the:
- Page views: the number of times your website has been accessed (including multiple page views by the same visitor) in a chosen period of time
- Unique page views: as the names tell, this metric indicates the unique number of page views, counting multiple page views by the same visitor in a session as 1.
- Average time on the page: This number shows you the roughly how much a user spends on the website during a specific time frame.
- Bounce rate: This one shows the percentage of people who left your website after only accessing one page.
- Exit: The exit rate shows you the percentage of which a page was the last one accessed by the visitor before leaving your website.
These pieces of information are extremely valuable but to be interpreted accurately, they have to be put in context. For example, you can find out that a page has a big bounce rate, and instantly think that it is a negative thing, but that may not be the case. Look at how much time are they spending on that page, what’s the content about. You can discover that the visitors actually got what they were looking for, and left your website satisfied. If you want them to visit your website more, or spend more time there, maybe it’s high time to introduce a call to action (CTA). Another example is the exit metric. By analyzing which one is the most likely to be the last page your visitor access before leaving, you can adjust it to make sure that your desired message is delivered on that page.
As previously stated you have to know what the purpose of your site is to monitor things in an effective way. If in the earlier stages, we’ve discussed how Google tracks how people arrive on your website and how they behave on it, now it’s time to talk see if your website reaches its purpose. These goals are also grouped into categories:
- Goals revolving around visitors reaching a certain page/section of your website
- Goals revolving around how much time the visitors spend on the website in general or on a certain page
- Goals revolving around visitors accessing a specific number of pages of your website
- Goals revolving around an action - visitors downloading a brochure/ watch a video etc.
Clearly knowing your goal you can see if your website or a specific web page meets your goals and how it performs to reach it.
Knowing how to interpret all of this data and put it together is a great way to finding out what can be improved to your website. A thing that you have to remember though is the fact that the website analytics is just one part of the much larger digital communication field. This means that all the insights you’ve obtained from website analytics have to be paired with social media insights as well as SEO insights, in order to have an integrated communication flow. To make sure you don’t misinterpret or mess one piece of the digital communication puzzle, it’s best to work with people or communication agencies that have the right expertise, experience, and knowledge.
Read part 2 here.