Is Google Analytics Killing Your Website’s Effectiveness?

The Answer: No, but you are, if you don’t frequently look at what Google Analytics (or another analytics program) is telling you.

When was the last time you looked at your website analytics? Here at WebWise, we matter-of-factly create an account and add Google Analytics code to the pages of nearly all new and redesigned websites we create. We also urge our clients to create a Google Account (most have them already), which we use to grant them access to their analytics. We give them the access info, and tell them that there is a near plethora of metrics to explore. Actually there are so many, and individually, the information from those metrics range from being a time-sucking curiosity, to extremely useful, to nearly critical to the success in reaching goals (You have goals for your website, don’t you?) set for their website, that it can be a bit overwhelming.

We do tell them the metrics we believe are most useful for websites in general, and their type of site specifically. Obviously, which metrics are most important can vary considerably depending on the type of website and the goals to be measured.

So, here is a short list for our clients who don’t remember which reports are important. It is also for the rest of you out there that are interested in the metrics that will likely give you most of what you need/want to know. Keep the list handy and you won’t have to spend hours of time poking around all of the ready-made reports (there are nearly 30 in the “Visitors” section alone), or creating an infinite number of custom reports. Of course, if you have the time to spend, there is a lot of interesting information in some of those reports as well.

The order in which they are listed is not necessarily indicative of their importance.

Dashboard – Site Usage: At the very least, check this report frequently.

Google Analytics - Overview Site Usage

Visitors Overview: This report gives you a quick view of the important totals for the reporting period. The GA reports default date range is the previous thirty days, and is easily changed to whatever you want. In this area, pay specific attention to:

  • Absolute Unique Visitors
  • Average Pageviews
  • Bounce Rate
    • Explanation of this is too lengthy for this article, but important you understand
Google Analytics - Visitors Overview

Traffic Sources

  • All Traffic Sources
    • It is a good thing to know how traffic is getting to your website
  • Referring Sites
    • It is a better thing to know just who really is sending you traffic

Content

  • Top Content
    • By “Title” if you are unfamiliar with file names, and your webmaster did a good job with your page titles
  • Top Landing Pages
    • Visitors don’t all come through your home page
  • Keywords
    • This metric leads some astray. It is a measurement of keywords used while searching that actually brought visitors to your website. It is highly likely you have those keywords on your pages. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best keywords for you. If there are keywords you feel are important, and they are not showing up in this report, you need to look at your pages, and rewrite the relevant pages to include those keywords. That is, if you have researched to see if they are being used in searches, and they are.

    Of course, there is much more to say about Google Analytics, and other analytics offerings. If you regularly look at the reports listed above, and take some action based on what you find, your website will come closer to reaching the goals you have for it.

    You do have goals and expectations for your website, don’t you?

    USE Google Analytics to help measure and reach those goals, and please remember, adding up numbers is not measuring results. Dig to measure.