The 19-Minute Google Analytics Crash Course: The Essentials


In their boundless kindness and charity, Google gives us access to their Analytics platform at no cost and with no strings attached. As a self-proclaimed “measurement junkie,” I have become increasingly obsessed with the wealth of information Google Analytics gives me on the online activities of my business customers. The accuracy of their online metrics is even better than cake and ice cream, especially when dealing with clients for whom it isn’t easy to collect real-life numbers about inquiries, conversions, and degree of interest. After seeing coaching customers become unresponsive during the fifth hour of examining analytics, I knew I had to make a prioritized list of the most crucial metrics to track with this software.

You’ll need to set up the analytics to benefit from them. So either follow their (generously offered) instructions or provide them to your IT staff. Here’s some advice: put this code on every site page, and don’t forget to add it to any new pages. About a month ago, I almost killed myself after seeing that one of my clients had a 70% bounce rate. After ensuring nothing was ominous like “GO AWAY NOW” on the homepage, I looked into the analytics coding and discovered that roughly 60% of the pages lacked this. You may relax knowing that analytics will do their thing once the code is in place. Google Analytics makes me imagine a crew of little statisticians in white lab coats and clipboards busily checking and measuring every aspect of your website in the background. One of these statisticians is keeping watch over a Norwegian fisherman as he reads your website for an incredible 17 minutes at 4:15 in the morning.

A second data scientist is tracking the actions of a visitor from upstate New York who clicked away from your site’s buying cart. Thousands of statisticians are complex at work every single second of every day. You should revisit your Analytics Report about a month after putting your white-coated workers to work. Learn the basics of Analytics by going through the course, but don’t let the possibility of checking millions of metrics initially throw you off. Instead, think about doing a 19-minute analytics review like I do with my clients.

To access the Map overlay, visit the Visitors area and look for the Overview section. You can learn a lot about the area around your site’s point of attraction.

Second, select New vs. Returning Visitors from the Visitors section/overview. Is your pipeline emptying quickly? Do they visit once and never come back? What is the ideal frequency of customer visits? How satisfied are you with the influx of new customers?

3. How much time was spent there? Keep it up at all times; the longer, the better. If consumers are only staying on your site for a few seconds, or even less, on average, you can be sure they aren’t feeling any compelling pull to spend more time there. You may improve this by writing more engaging content or eliminating dead ends.

In the Visitors section, go to the Overview page and see the percentage change in unique visitors. If you notice a decline in fresh visits, it may be time to invest in SEO strategies, either organic or sponsored. Make sure you take action to rectify the situation.

5. One of my all-time favorite visitor metrics is the ratio of returning visitors to new ones. This metric, which tracks “sessions” rather than visits, should grow if you’re selling a product or service with a drawn-out purchase process. If that’s the case, your efforts have paid off because your potential customers keep returning for additional information. If this is falling, think about how you might improve the sales text. The time between prospects can be tracked in a “Big Brother”-style feature, providing valuable information on sales psychology and the buying habits of your clientele.

6. Intensity of How “deep” people are exploring your site can be gauged by measuring their visits. I tell my clients to picture their websites as sprawling estates. While it would be unreasonable to assume that every customer would trek to the East Wing, 4th Floor, 5th Bedroom on the Left to the Closet, it is desirable to see at least some customers make an effort, especially if you are selling an expensive item. This indicates that consumers are eager to learn as much as possible about the product.

The number of pages and unique visitors can be gleaned from the summary provided by Referring Sources, found in Traffic Sources/Direct Traffic. You can begin comparing different periods after using Google Analytics for 60 days. Spend your time wisely by comparing different periods and searching for patterns in visitor traffic and page views.

Include a comparison of current and past site visits in this report area. Your site is probably dull and possibly foolish if it’s not going up.

9. You can save a ton of cash by using the Keywords field. In the analytics report, you can locate your keywords without paying a dodgy SEO firm a ton of money (yet another reason we thank Google). If you go to Google Analytics and look at the “Keywords” section under “Traffic Sources/Direct Resources,” you can find out how people discovered your website. I mean, come on, how awesome is that? Ever? Because of my extreme excitement, I have to take tranquilizers whenever I see this literally. Try rearranging the order of the keywords given to you. DON’T LET THIS PASS YOU BY! This is priceless, as we can utilize it to develop AdSense advertisements and strengthen the text surrounding these terms. To improve search engine rankings further, have your web whiz include these keywords in page titles.

Which Pages Have the Most Views? Select Overview under Content and then Entrance Path on the right. This is a great approach to demonstrate the efficacy of your banner ads, links, and other referring sources.

11 The Site Overlay isn’t mind-blowing; the Entrance Page Report has better statistics. However, it is enjoyable to peruse for a quarter of a minute.

You can quickly determine which pages have a high bounce rate by using the Top Content/High Bounces tool. Readers may be “done” for many reasons, but this is easily remedied by providing a handful of links to other parts of the site.

High Exit Rates from Popular Content are the Cousin of High Bounce Rates. Please focus your time and energy on these sections. I help people improve the quality of the information on their websites by having them respond to my “4 Ultimate Questions.” If the high percentage of visitors immediately leaving your site worries you, have your developer install the Google Analytics tracking code on those pages. You may want to optimize it independently, move it to a more prominent location on the site, or add some internal links directing to it if you have a great page that is loaded with rich material and you are confident it should be a crowd-pleaser but is not appearing on your top content.

The trick is to be consistent. I’d rather have clients analyze their analytics at these 19-minute intervals regularly than put it off because they can’t find the two hours they think they need to review it. I wish you the same boundless delight I’ve felt in the thrilling realm of analyzing your data.

Central Pennsylvania is home to Thom Finn, a qualified business coach. He has mentored hundreds of companies to increase profits, earning him a reputation for being stern and demanding. Coach Thom blends small company knowledge with responsibility, bringing tremendous results for his clients. He has a load of fancy letters behind his name and experience from the school of hard knocks. He was just voted “Last Person you want to Meet in a dark alley” and “Coach of the Year” for Client Results in Sydney 2009. [email protected]

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