Aaron Mandelbaum

Published: Sep 18, 2019 12:34:56 AM

Author: Aaron Mandelbaum

Utilizing Google Analytics For Website Metrics And Traffic

Your website provides you with a treasure trove of data that can be used to greatly improve your web traffic, content, conversions, and your understanding of your target audience. It’s one of the reasons why businesses of all sizes leverage Google Analytics in order to analyze their data and to track a variety of useful metrics, including website traffic metrics.

Finding Metrics That Are Important

One of the biggest challenges of monitoring website metrics is that there is an abundance of data available for you to analyze--to the point where there are hundreds of potential metrics that you could track. Following hundreds of random metrics is generally not a good use of your time, especially if you don’t understand how you can leverage those metrics to improve your website or marketing strategy. The following is an overview of the metrics that you should follow and why.

Important Metrics For Your Website

If you have a website that you are using to market your business, the following are some of the metrics that you should be sure to track using Google Analytics in order to monitor the performance of your site:

1. Website Traffic

Website traffic is one of the metrics that people obsess over the most. Monitoring how many people visit your site over time will give you an idea of how successful some of your inbound marketing strategies, such as your SEO strategy and your content marketing strategy, are. If traffic is steadily increasing month by month, then this is a good sign. If your web traffic remains static -- or even worse, declining -- then it indicates that there is an issue with either your website or your marketing efforts.

The website traffic metric can also be broken down into unique visits and repeat visits, both of which provide valuable insight. The number of unique visitors tells you how many new people are visiting your site. Unique visitors indicate that your efforts of increasing brand awareness and attracting new potential leads are working. However, repeat visitors is arguably a more important metric. This is because people who visit your site more than once are displaying an interest in your brand and are more likely to convert.

It’s worth noting that while website traffic is an important metric to follow -- and that both unique visits and repeat visit metrics are extremely useful -- it doesn’t provide you with in depth information. It will only give you a general idea of how your website and marketing strategies are performing, which means that it won’t be as helpful when it comes to identifying specific issues that need to be addressed.

2. Traffic Sources

Knowing how much traffic you’re getting is helpful, but knowing where that traffic is coming from is arguably more useful. The traffic sources metric provides actionable information by breaking down your traffic sources into four categories:

  • Organic Traffic - Organic traffic is that which comes via search engine queries. You obtain it by optimizing your site for SEO and writing high-quality content. Search engines like Google will then rank your pages based on a variety of factors and list them according to that ranking on their SERP (search engine results page). Your listing will then pop up on their SERP whenever users perform search queries using the keywords you’ve used to optimize your pages.

  • Referral Traffic - Referral traffic is traffic generated by external links to your site that are posted by other websites. It means that your brand is getting exposure to new audiences through other companies or influencers within your industry and reflects positively on your brand image and authority.

  • Direct Traffic - Direct traffic refers to visitors who come to your site by typing your site’s URL directly into their browser. People who do this are already familiar with your brand, which means that either they are existing customers or repeat visitors. It’s also a good way to measure how strong your brand recognition is.

  • Social Traffic - Social media provides access to an enormous audience. If you don’t have a social media presence, then you’re missing out on a potentially substantial amount of traffic. By setting up social media pages on a variety of channels, you can direct traffic to your website through links and content. Content that you post can be shared by followers, thereby potentially bringing in even more traffic as a result.

3. Bounce Rate

The bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that are leaving your website right after they arrive. A low bounce rate indicates that your visitors are happy with the page that they’ve arrived on and are spending some time engaging with your site (such as by staying on the page for a while, clicking on the links, or engaging in other ways).

A high bounce rate is bad news, and unfortunately, won’t tell you why visitors are leaving right away, but it will indicate that there is a problem that is causing them to abandon your site quickly. It could be because of a technical issue (your page isn’t loading or it’s loading too slowly), because the content is poor, or because the page isn’t what they were looking for (in which case, you may not have used keywords that were relevant to the page).

4. Top Pages

The top pages metric essentially lists the pages on your site that are performing the best in terms of traffic volume. This metric provides the number of views of each page and how those views look as a percentage of the total page views across your entire website. Identifying your top pages gives you an idea of what kind of content your audience responds to best, which can help to improve your existing and future content marketing campaigns.

5. Conversion Rate

All of the effort you put into driving traffic to your site isn’t going to make much of a difference if you’re not converting visitors. Your conversion rate tells you how effective you are at getting visitors to perform the actions you want them to perform, whether it’s signing up to an email list, registering for a free trial, or making a purchase. The conversion rate is calculated as the number of unique visitors divided by the number of conversions. Using Google Analytics, you can also track your conversion rates over time.

If you have a low conversion rate this could be the result of a number of issues. For example, you may not be attracting the right website visitors, which indicates a problem with your SEO efforts. It could also indicate that your calls-to-action are poor or that your landing pages (point of conversion) aren’t executed properly.

6. Conversion By Traffic Source

Although the traffic sources metric provides valuable information on where your traffic comes from, not all traffic is equal. You may be getting significantly more organic traffic than referral traffic; however, if you’re only converting a small percentage of your organic traffic while converting a large percentage of your referral traffic, you could draw the conclusion that your referral traffic is worth more. This is why you’ll want to make sure to track the conversion by traffic source metric as well.

Additionally, if you’re getting a significant amount of traffic from one source but have a low conversion rate for that source, then odds are you need to adjust your strategy. For example, if you’re getting tons of organic traffic but have low conversions for that traffic source, then maybe you’re targeting the wrong keywords, or your conversion points don’t align well with the content you are creating.

Metrics That Will Improve Your Sales Conversion

In addition to website performance, you’ll also want to monitor how effective your site is at impacting sales. The following are a few helpful metrics that can provide you with valuable insight into how effective your site is at converting sales and how you can improve:

Page Views

Page views is different from web traffic as web traffic refers to the number of people visiting your website in general, and page views refers to the number of views the webpages of your site are getting. This means that when a single visitor visits your website and views multiple pages, each page they view counts as a page view. In other words, 1 website visitor could also equal 5 page views.

Page views are a good metric to track because they let you identify the pages that are doing well (obtaining many views) and pages that are doing poorly. A page that is not receiving many page views is obviously not contributing much in the way of converting sales. Comparing pages with low page views to those that have high page views can tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

Time On Site

Good content is the key to converting unidentified visitors to leads and leads to sales qualified opportunities. It allows you to engage with leads and to nurture them, thereby building trust in your brand. However, one of the challenges of creating content is figuring out whether it is having a good impact on visitors or not. This is a challenge that search engines like Google share. They have no way of knowing if your content is good or not, which is why they consider the time on site metric. Time on site refers to how long a visitor spends on your website and on individual pages. If a visitor spends more than a few minutes on a page, it means that they are reading or viewing your content. Google assumes that if they are taking the time to do this, then it is likely to be high quality content.

You can track the time on site of your visitors as well to figure out how long visitors are spending on your site as a whole, as well as on individual pages. If the time on site for certain pages is low, odds are the content isn’t engaging your visitors -- and if your content isn’t engaging your visitors, then it’s hurting your ability to convert them. The longer they spend on your site, the more of a chance you have of converting them.

Traffic Sources

By being able to track your traffic sources, you can make adjustments to improve conversions. The following are a couple of examples of how you can use traffic source information to potentially improve your sales:

  • Low organic search traffic - If your organic search traffic is low, it means people aren’t finding you through Google. You’ll want to improve your SEO strategy to increase your page rankings, thereby providing your site with more exposure on search engines. This should help you to boost your organic traffic and increase the number of new leads that convert on your site.

  • Low referral traffic - External links help bring visitors that are likely to be a part of your target audience but who may not be familiar with your brand yet. As such, you’ll want to improve your referral traffic to bring in more potential customers. One way to do this is by writing guest blogs on other websites within your industry that may share the same target audience as you.

  • Low direct traffic - If there’s one thing better than a customer, it’s a repeat customer. Companies often make the mistake of assuming that once they’ve closed a sale, they can move on to the next lead. However, existing customers are a great source of additional sales. Low direct traffic means you’re not doing enough to nurture existing customers and that you need to put more effort into retaining the customers you’ve already made.

Exit Pages

Exit pages refer to the web pages that visitors are on last before they leave your website. By tracking which pages your visitors are leaving from the most, you can spot potential issues. For example, the page that visitors are leaving from most often may not have any links or guidance as to where to go next, leaving visitors confused as to what to do. If a landing page, or point of conversion, is acting as an exit page for many, then there’s a good chance the page is either not giving the visitor what they expected or the process to convert is more than they’re willing to commit to at that time. Whatever the case may be, pages that have high exit rates are hurting your ability to convert leads unidentified website visitors to identified marketing qualified leads.

The Value Of Google Analytics

When it comes to analytics, there are many tools that are available but Google Analytics remains the most popular of them all and many reasons why.

First of all, Google is by far the most used search engine in the world. As such, most businesses are concerned with how their websites rank on Google, which means that it’s only logical to use their own analytics tool to track various web traffic-related metrics.

Secondly, Google Analytics has a user-friendly interface. No coding is required to track the metrics that are most pertinent to you. The tool also offers hundreds of different metrics that you can monitor and act upon. This is, in part, because Google has an enormous cloud infrastructure that lets them go through extremely large sets of data at a rapid pace.

Finally, the standard version of Google Analytics is free -- although you can pay for a more comprehensive version as well.

The Free Version of Google Analytics

The free version of Google Analytics will suffice for most businesses. You can track all of the metrics that you want to track and the only limit is that your data volume capacity will be capped at 10 million hits per month and you will only have up to 50,000 rows per export. Other than that, you will have access to custom reporting, advanced segmentation, real-time data, flow visualization, and analytics alerts.

Paid Google Analytics 360 Accounts

If you’re a larger company with a larger website, then you might need to pay for Google Analytics 360, which allows up to 20 billion hits per month (and 0.5 billion for first pricing tier). Max data rows for 360 is also 3,000,000 rows per export. Additionally, data refreshes in less than an hour as opposed to every 24 hours for the free version. Last, but not least, the paid version comes with extensive support, such as emergency support, implementation support, a dedicated account manager, and more. If you use the free version, you’ll have to implement and run Google Analytics on your own.

Google Analytics Metrics That Will Help Boost Your Traffic

The information that Google Analytics can analyze and break down for you can be utilized to improve your website so that you can bring in more traffic (and with more traffic comes more potential leads). The following are some of the metrics you can track using Google Analytics that can give you insight into how you can boost your web traffic:

  • New Visitor Conversion - Being able to monitor how many new leads you’re converting can provide you with a lot of information about your traffic. For example, if you’re bringing in a significant amount of new leads but your conversion rate is surprisingly low, it could be because you’re bringing in low quality traffic. This could mean that you’re either targeting the wrong audience or using the wrong keywords. Making the necessary adjustments can help bring in higher quality traffic.

  • Sources For Incoming Traffic - Tracking your traffic sources lets you know exactly where your website visitors are coming from. Essentially, this lets you judge the performance of your marketing efforts to see which ones are working to bring in more traffic and which ones need improvements.

  • Interactions Per Visit (Pages / Sessions) - Interactions per visit will show you what actions visitors are taking during their session, such as whether they’re visiting multiple pages, how much time they’re spending looking at a single piece of content, clicking on external links, or commenting on blog posts. These interactions give you more insight into the behavior of your visitors and allows you to determine how you can leverage certain interactions to boost traffic as well as increase your conversion rate in the future.

  • Value Per Visit - Determining what the value of each visit is can be difficult. This is because value isn’t just defined by a sale or by a conversion. Certain interactions have value as well as they can lead to future conversions. As such, the value of each visit is linked to the interactions per visit. When it comes down to it, the value per visit metric is determined by dividing the total number of visits to a page by the total value that was created (whatever actions you consider to have value).

  • Lead Generation Costs - Lead generation costs is an important metric because it basically refers to the value per visit. It is also sometimes referred to as cost per conversion. If your lead generation costs are too high, it won’t matter if you have a high conversion rate -- your website will no longer be cost effective. It’s important to keep lead generation costs in mind when attempting to increase your conversion rates as a result. If your lead generation costs are too high, you may need to perform a budget audit on your website and online marketing efforts to see how your resources are being invested.

  • Page Views - Pages with more page views are obviously performing better. By comparing all of the pages that are doing well with those that aren’t, you can learn what kind of content brings in the most amount of traffic.

  • Average Session Duration - The average session duration refers to how long the average visitor spends on your website without leaving. The longer the average session time is, the more relevant your website’s content is to your visitors. If the average session time is low, it may mean that a lot of your traffic may consist of people that aren’t a part of your target audience. If your average session duration is high, it means that there’s a better chance of conversion.

  • Don’t Hold Back, Start Using Google Analytics More Today

Using Google Analytics can help you track how your website and many of your online marketing efforts are performing as well as pinpoint where you need to make adjustments. The insight that Google Analytics provides allows you to make adjustments to your website as needed, thereby ensuring that you’re not wasting resources on pages, content, and other website elements that simply aren’t working.

Although collecting and analyzing the massive amounts of data your website can provide can be extremely daunting, Google Analytics makes it much easier to do. While there are hundreds of metrics that you can track, the previously listed ones are some of the main metrics that you should pay attention to. As you become more comfortable using Google Analytics, you may uncover other metrics that will be helpful to your specific needs.

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