How do you know what you’re doing is working if you don’t measure its success?
It’s worth taking some time out once a week to have a quick look at the data you have at your fingertips.
- Which social media posts are performing well?
- When are your fans online?
- What content provokes the most discussion?
- Which newsletter subject lines get the best open rate?
- Which web pages are attracting the most traffic?
- How are people finding your site?
In this week’s blog, I wanted to take a quick look at the Google Analytics vital statistics I always look at and why I think they’re important for the ongoing growth and development of my website (and yours too).
If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, you really should! You can find out how to install it here. There are some great tutorials on YouTube too that breakdown the various steps.
Ready to find out more? Check out these Google Analytics vital statistics.
Google Analytics vital statistic #1 – Audience overview
Log in to Google Analytics and in the left hand column, under Standard Reports, you’ll see the ‘Audience’ report. I check out the Audience Overview regularly.
I like the Audience Overview because it shows me that my website is making progress (great for tackling a crisis of confidence!). Month on month, it has seen a growth in unique users and page views, quadrupling the traffic on the site since its launch six months ago.
It shows me at a glance that my high traffic days are Tuesdays (when my newsletter goes out) and Thursdays (when my blog goes live), so both these marketing activities are bringing traffic back to my website. I can also see that 45% of my website traffic overall comes from returning visitors, many of whom have visited the website on more than 50 separate occasions. This would suggest that they are engaging with the content I’m providing.
Your turn: Check out your Audience Overview. How many unique users have visited your site this month? How many page views have there been? What is your bounce rate like?
(The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit a single page of your website before leaving without visiting any other pages. Wikipedia cites an article from Inc.com which suggests a 50% bounce rate is average, 60% or more a cause for concern and 80%-plus evidence of a serious problem).
Google Analytics vital statistic #2 – All traffic
The new-look Google Analytics has an ‘Acquisition’ report under the Standard Reports section in the left-hand column. Click on All Traffic to see where your website traffic is coming from. I can see straight away that nearly 46.5% of my traffic is coming from Google. The next three most popular sources are direct traffic, my Facebook page and my weekly newsletter.
I was recently featured in an interview on the Ideas Tap website and know from the stats in this section that this brought in nearly 5% of my website traffic in the last 30 days. This shows how guest blogs, interviews, etc. are a fantastic way of reaching a new audience and creating different sources of web traffic.
Your turn: Go to the All Traffic report under ‘Acquisition’ and see where your website traffic is coming from. Are there any surprises? What is working for you? What isn’t?
Google Analytics vital statistic #3 – Social Overview
I like to keep an eye on how the various social media platforms are impacting on my website’s traffic. Again, under the Acquisition heading, there is loads of useful information about social media.
The first stat I check is the Social Overview. This shows me that Facebook is where my website visitors are hanging out and finding me. However, it should be noted that Facebook is the platform where I most consistently promote my business and services.
Twitter brings in a sizeable amount of traffic too, as do Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Your turn: Check out your Social Overview. Where are people finding you on social media? Does the traffic reflect where you’re putting in the most effort? Are there other platforms you could be using more effectively?
Google Analytics vital statistic #4 – Social>Landing pages
If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know that I always promote it on five different social media platforms. Staying under the Social subheading within the Acquisition report, I make a point of checking out the Landing pages stats. I can either see which pages have been the most viewed as a result of traffic from social media sources in the last month or tweak the dates for a custom period of time.
Looking at the overall life span of my website, I can see that, although all my blogs are well-read, there are three hot topics that constantly attract new traffic and interest. By clicking on the URL for each blog in this report, I can also see that most of these blogs were discovered on Facebook.
Which hot topics do you think people love to read about? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Your turn: Check out the ‘Landing pages’ report under the Social section. Which pages are attracting the most traffic through social media? Can you think of some blog topics on similar themes?
Google Analytics vital statistic #5: Search Engine Optimisation Queries
Staying in the ‘Acquisition’ report section, go to Search Engine Optimisation’ and then click on ‘Queries’. This is the statistic I try to keep an eye on above all others. Of the traffic that’s coming into my website via search engines, what are the keywords and search terms people are using to find me? Are they the keywords I think they’re going to be?
I look at my top ranking keywords and keep an eye on my average position – is it rising or falling? – and my click-through rate.
To explain what the different columns mean:
- Impressions are ‘The number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user, not including paid AdWords search impressions’. In other words, these are organic results, not paid for results.
- Clicks are ‘The number of clicks on your website URLs from a Google Search results page, not including clicks on paid AdWords search results’.
- Average position means ‘The average ranking of your website URLs for the query or queries. For example, if your site’s URL appears at position 3 for one query and position 7 for another query, the average position would be 5 (3+7/2)’.
- CTR (Click-through rate) is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions, then multiplying this by 100 to express the rate as a percentage.
This section shows me that month on month my focus keywords are ranking higher. If a keyword were to suddenly and significantly drop, it might be a sign that my website had been penalised by Google (although I am careful to always focus on the three pillars of SEO to ensure white hat techniques are used at all times).
The stats on this page may also flag up keywords you haven’t considered before or give you ideas for future blog topics.
Your turn: Go to ‘Search Engine Optimisation Queries’ – how are your main keywords performing? Are there any surprises? Are there words that you hadn’t expected to see on the list?
(A note about click through rates – it’s hard to define what makes a good click through rate. According to Mailchimp, newsletters in the marketing industry tend to average a click through rate of 1.9%. Elsewhere, a highly targeted Adword campaign with specific keywords might be expected to have a CTR of 10%. It’s often a case of trial and error. I prefer to see whether my CTR is increasing for specific keywords).
Google Analytics vital statistic #6: Search Engine Optimisation Landing Pages
Again, this is a statistic worth keeping an eye on. Directly below the ‘Search Engine Optimisation Queries’ report, you’ll find Landing pages where you can find out more about which pages are attracting the most search engine traffic.
This shows me that different blog posts are performing well from an SEO point of view compared to the blogs that are seeing a lot of social media traffic. It also shows me which portfolio pieces are performing well.
Your turn: Check out the SEO ‘Landing pages’ report. Which pages are performing well? Which have the best click through rates or are showing up in searches most regularly?
Google Analytics vital statistic #7: Site Content>Landing pages
Finally, I like to keep an eye on the Site Content>Landing pages report under the ‘Behaviour flow’ heading. This shows you where people are coming in to your website. The Exit pages report shows you where they’re leaving.
Under the Site Content>All pages option, I can see my best performing pages overall and the blog posts that have consistently attracted the most traffic. Again, it’s the same three hot topics.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and would love to hear how you get on. Pop over to my Facebook page and let me know if you’ve learned anything new.