Google Analytics has over 80 reports with customizable features so you can see the data you want, how you want. You can also create your own custom report with just the information you want.
Discover how visitors interact with your site, the type of visitors you’re receiving (new vs. returning, geographic region, etc.), and information about their browser and network capabilities.
How many new and repeat visitors came to your site, and how much did they interact with your content?
The answers to these questions tell you how well you’re doing with:
- Driving new traffic to your site
- Visit quality and engagement with content
- Here are some basic terms to help you understand more about your visitors and the pages they viewed on your site:
The total number of pages viewed. Counted every time a page on your web site loads. Pageviews indicate how much your site is used.
A measure of visit quality, indicating how much visitors engage with your site.
A high Average Pageviews number results from targeted traffic (visitors who are interested in what you offer) and quality, relevant content (your site meets visitors’ needs).
A low Average Pageviews indicates a need to improve in one or both areas.
The number of visits during which page was viewed. For example, three pageviews of a page during one visit = one unique pageview.
Time on Site / Page
This is a measure of visit quality that indicates the level of visitor interaction at your site. However, Time on Site or Page is not 100% reliable because visitors often leave their browser windows open but are not actually viewing your site.
Length of Visit
A measure of visit quality. A high number of long visits indicate many visitors are engaged with your site. You can see the entire distribution of visit times rather than just Average Time on Site / Page.
Depth of Visit
A measure of visit quality. A high number of visits with many pageviews per visit indicate your site is delivering what visitors want. You can see the entire distribution of visits, rather than just Average Pageviews.
The percentage of visits that ended after viewing only one page. Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality. Often landing pages for ad campaigns are not adequately targeted, causing a high bounce rate. Always make sure your landing page features the product, service, or information that the ad promised.
You may also be driving traffic using keywords or ad copy that is too broad, resulting in untargeted visitors.
For blogs, bounce rate is usually not relevant, because most visitors only view one page.
Visit (or Session)
A period of interaction between a browser and a web site, ending when the browser is closed or the user is inactive for 30 minutes.
Visitors are identified by a cookie so they are counted only once. This is designed to estimate as closely as possible the number of actual people who visit.
New vs. Returning Visitors
Lots of new visitors mean you’ve been successful at driving new traffic to your site.
Lots of repeat visitors mean you’ve been successful at engaging visitors with your content.
– Visualize visit volume (visits and pageviews) and quality (conversion rates, per visit value, etc.) measures by geographic region, with the ability to drill down to the city level.
Tells you the preferred language visitors have configured on their computers. This can be valuable for targeting your content development and marketing spend.
How often visitors return to your site is a measure of how engaged they are with your site and their readiness to buy.
– A high number of repeat visits indicate visitors who are loyal to and engaged with your brand.
You can also see how recently prospects have visited, and how often they visit.
Browser Capabilities and Network Properties
Optimize your site appropriately for the technical capabilities of visitors’ browsers and networks.
This helps make your site user-friendly and engaging and can produce higher conversion rates and more sales.
Get answers to questions such as, do visitors’ browsers support Java? Which version of Flash is installed? What is their connection speed?
Track and Analyze Segments
You can define a specific segment of visitors to track separately.
For example, visitors who have selected an option on a form can be tracked separately. This is a good way to track the market segments you identified in your market research survey.
You can also define a segment by site interaction. For example, visitors who have joined your email list or commented on your blog.
This is an optional functionality that shows how your site’s metrics compare with data from categories of other web sites.
Metrics you can compare include Visits, Pageviews, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate, Average Time on Site, and New Visits.
Custom Visitor Segments (User Defined)
User Defined is an area within the Visitors section of GA where you can assign a “label” to track visitors who complete an action on your site.
For example, you can assign the label “Customers” to visitors who make a purchase.
Labels continue through multiple visits to your site, so you can use these labels to track the behavior of visitors in a certain segment.
Labels are called “User Defined Values” or “Custom Segments” in GA.
Assign a User Defined label to visitors, who complete an action on your site, including:
- Visiting a page
For example, you can assign the label “Customers” to visitors who reach the “Thank You” page displayed after a sale.
Or you could assign anyone who visits the “Web Design” pages of your site to the “Web Design” segment.
- Clicking a link
For example, you can assign the label “Needs Help” to visitors who clicked your live help chat link (great for identifying pages that are confusing)
- Submitting a form
For example, you can assign the label “Sales” to visitors who selected this as their profession on a form.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to divide your visitors into two groups, subscribers to your email list and non-subscribers:
When visitors sign up for your email list they are cookied so they will be tracked as subscribers when they return to the site.
You can then compare purchases and other data for the two groups to see if your email list is making a difference to your bottom line.
You can also track changes you make to your email list over time to see how they affect performance.
For example, does changing the day of the week you send your email newsletter have an effect?
Let’s look at another example, from GA.
You can see below that there have been:
- 28 visits from people labeled as “Customers”
- 4 visits from people labeled as “Needs Help” and
- “Not set” indicates all other traffic:
Benchmarking is an optional service that shows how your site’s metrics compare to other participating sites in your industry vertical market.
Benchmarking provides a valuable context for site performance and trends.
You can also compare your site to other industries.
This can be valuable, for example, to learn more about industries you are thinking about advertising in.
Metrics you can compare include:
- Pages per Visit
- Bounce Rate
This benchmarking report shows a comparison of apparel sites of similar size:
In my next GA blog I'll discuss Traffic Sources.