Does the thought of analytics and tracking make you want to close your eyes and ears and run away? Don't worry, it is not as bad as it sounds. The 3 most important Google analytics reports can give you so many valuable insights about the health of the content of your website and your audience, as long as your setup is properly done. And if you know where to click, reading these reports will be a breeze next time to check them.
Just a quick note, the new version of Google Analytics (4) is now out and that is the one we should start using as Universal Analytics will stop tracking from July 2023 onwards. To read more about it, you can go to the blog Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4.
The basic language of Web Analytics
I want to give you an overview of the reports I most look at when I want to learn more about how my website content is doing, how engaging it is, how well it is converting, etc. Now, I realise that the word “converting” might be new for some of you. If it is, this is just an indicator as to how well your website is achieving its goals. And the goal can be many things. You can set a goal of getting subscribers to your newsletter, another goal would be to have people book appointments or click on your phone number displayed on your website. And the obvious goal would be to have people buy a product on your website. When the people who come to your website do any of those actions on your website (website goals), we can say they "converted". And we call those actions "conversions".
The 3 most important Google Analytics Reports
There are several reports on Google Universal Analytics, but the 3 I like to regularly check on are Audience, Acquisition and Behaviour. You will see the same information in all those areas, but from different perspectives. You find those reports when you open your Google Universal Analytic and look on the left area. You can also get these reports in a beautiful format delivered to your inbox with Google Data Studio Report that I will be talking about in another post.
The Audience Report: Geo > Location
This report will answer to the question: Where are the users visiting our website coming from? You can see the traffic by country, city, continent, subcontinent. Now you might ask: why is this information important?
If you are running a business whose customers are only local people, does it make sense that people who live far away visit your website if they won't buy your products? What do you need to change if no local people are visiting your website? Perhaps you need to ask your local customers what content they would like to see on your website, what would be helpful for them so they visit it.
The other area I like to look at is the language. In analytics you will see the browser language the users use. This information might be important if you have many visitors from different countries and you were asking yourself if you should have your website in more than one language. The same thing would go the other way. Perhaps you do have your website in two languages and you realise that most visitors are only engaged in one language. This would be a time to ask yourself whether you continue maintaining the different languages on your website or you concentrate your efforts in only one.
The Acquisition Report: All Traffic > Channels
The question we ask here is: where is this traffic coming from? Is it coming from organic search? Paid search? Referrals?
The ideal would be to have a large number of your traffic coming from Organic. What this means is that they are looking for something specific on the search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and your website shows up in the search results. Then they click on it and voilá, that's how they found you! For that, of course, you need to have the right keywords on your website so search engines show your content to potential visitors.
If you are running paid campaigns, such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or any other type of digital ads, I like to add a second dimension called "Source/Medium" as you can see on the image below.
By looking at this report, we can see which platforms are bringing the most traffic, how many users versus new users are visiting, which platform is working as a referral traffic. Are the paid campaigns bringing enough traffic, and is the traffic "converting".
If you run campaigns in different platforms at the same time, you can make a comparison and see which one is working well, which one is not working as well. How long are people staying on the website? This would be another indication for a campaign working well or not for example. If you see that your Google Ads is bringing a lot of traffic, but they only stay 2 seconds, you might need to ask yourself if the ad you are running is really communicating what people clicking on that ad are expecting to find on your website.
How can we leverage on the traffic that is converting, what are you doing right? This helps us to understand a little bit what is happening on our website and also to take better decisions.
Another area I like to check out is the Search Console under the Acquisition Report. What is interesting here is to know what people are looking for. Which questions are they asking Google? After analysing this area we could decide to write more about the subject people look for the most. Watch the video for a real example.
The Behaviour Report: Site Content > All Pages
What is interesting about the behaviour report is to know which article on my website is getting the most traffic. How long do they stay on that page? What is the average session duration? How high is the bounce rate? When you look at this report, you might want to choose the most visited blog posts and write something related to them, link those posts within your other blog posts so people find the new ones coming from the most popular. Watch the video for more examples.
In the video below I talk about the 3 reports I look at regularly, even if I am not running campaigns, it is important to regularly check how the content on your website is doing, how engaged the people visiting your website are, where are they coming from, how long do they stay, etcetera.
Let me know if this article and video were useful, I'd love it if you could leave a comment on the video and subscribe to my channel. As mentioned above, Universal Analytics will stop tracking from July 2023 onwards. To read more about it, you can go to the blog Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4.