Google analytics is probably the single most comprehensive tool that any webmaster can use to monitor the ongoing success of their site. The fact that it is free does not detract from its overall value. But it is still only a tool; the value comes with the person that knows how to use it. To most people the graphs, charts and figures will give a basic idea of how well your site is doing. What these figures don’t do is tell you where you could improve, what’s working on your site and what isn’t. To find these answers you have to know how to interpret the data.
Where to find the answers?
Bounce rate: The best place for many of us to start is with your site’s bounce rate, it’s the easiest element to understand and is often the easiest to rectify. To start, list your landing pages with the highest bounce rate, once this is done put together a list of the keywords that were used to get to these pages. Do the keywords used correspond with what is on the page? Did the searcher find what they wanted on this page; was it clear for them to see?
The keywords used and what the searcher finds on the corresponding landing page is often the highest cause of bounce rate, redesigning these landing pages to focus directly on what the searcher in looking for can have an immediate effect on your site. Other factors that may cause your landing pages to have a high bounce rate is a slow and clunky load time, over cluttered pages, poor navigation away from your landing page, or an unnatural progression away from these pages.
Goal, conversions and funnels: Analytics makes it easy to track your goals and conversion. If you’re not currently tracking these then you are essentially blind as to how well your site is doing. What is important about these elements of Google analytics is not necessarily the completion of the gold, but the steps and pages that led to the conversion. By reviewing the click paths of any converted customer you can get a much better idea of what convinced them to take the action you wanted them to. Was there something special about the content they consumed or were you running a special campaigns that may have led to this conversion? You will find the answers in Google analytics you just need to follow their click path backwards.
Segments: Looking at the raw data can be a daunting task, aside from the fact that you could be looking at hundreds of different keywords from searches all over the world. It will also be extremely hard to try and discern any useful and actionable data. To overcome this Google introduced segmentation which will allow you to break your traffic down by segments based on your requirements. If you want to review the search trends of the traffic coming from a specific country it will take two minutes to get a clear picture of this data by creating a new segment.
Site search: Basically site search will tell you what people search for on your site, but once you start to look at the data you will realize that it does so much more than just this, it gives you a clear idea of what your traffic really wanted from your site and what they wanted to find, the question should now be where they able to find it? Looking at the search refinement column and % if it sites exits after searching will tell you straight away if your site really provided them with the answers they were looking for.
Once you start to track your sites with Google analytics the amount of user data that will build up can help you make decisions that will have a positive effect on the future success of your site. Analytics can help you with your content strategy, competitor research, landing pages and the overall conversions of your site.