Knowledge is power: this rule is true for all things in life, and your website is no exception. In order to optimize your online presence, you must know your audience and understand what they’re looking for. It will help you shape your voice, address your visitors’ needs, improve your content and of course, at the end of the day, make sure search engines give you the ranking you deserve. The ultimate platform to analyze your traffic? Google Analytics.
We understand that just by hearing the words Google and Analytics, some of you already started to sweat. Luckily, the mission of our blog is not only to help you to create a stunning website, it’s also to make sure you master all the tools to help you along the way.
Today, we shed light on the complex world of online stats and show you exactly how to use Google Analytics, once and for all. A few lines for you to read, a huge step for your website optimization.
Audience – Who are they?
The first thing you want to understand when analyzing your traffic is who your visitors are and how they are consuming your content. And who better than Google can answer that? In the Audience section of the platform, you’ll find tons of useful insights regarding that matter. Here’s a breakdown of the different information you can use:
1. Audience overview – How successful is your site?
Naturally, before you start digging into your visitors’ details, you’ll want to check the amount of traffic coming in. After all, this is how you measure your site’s success:
- Sessions: How many visits do you get? The Sessions represent the overall traffic on your website. In other words, according to the date you define, you’ll see the total number of visits to your pages. It counts every time someone browsed your site, so you can have several sessions from the same person.
- Users: How many people visited at least one time? The Users parameter indicates the number of people who dropped by your website at least once. The difference between the Sessions and the Users is basically the amount of returning visits. The more returning visitors you get, the more engaged your audience is! Take a look at how the traffic split looks on the nice pie chart on the screenshot below.
2. Audience overview – How are they behaving?
Now that you know the big picture, it’s time to discover what these people are actually doing on your website. Google is closely watching your audience’s behavior in order to understand the quality of your content. The following insights are the most important:
- Page Views & Page Sessions: How many pages are they browsing? Naturally, the more pages your visitors read, the better it is for your site. Of course, in order to get an accurate understanding of your content quality, you need to consider how many pages each visitor is browsing on average. To find that, you should look at the Page/Session section.
- Average Session Duration: How long are they staying? The name says it all – if your visitors stay a while on your website, it means that your content is relevant to them – which is a great indicator for Google.
- Bounce rate: Are you what they’re looking for? Your bounce rate shows you what percentage of your visitors left your website without interacting with it – meaning they didn’t click anywhere. Therefore, the platform won’t be able to track them and will count their session duration as 0 seconds – oh goodness, that’s sad. Basically, if someone finds you on Google and bounced when they arrived on your page, that means that you’re probably not showing the right information – or not using the right keywords. Just to clarify: a low bounce rate is a good bounce rate.
The better these parameters are, the more like it is that a Search Engine will consider your content valuable – #Victory.
3. Audience: So, who are they?
All right, let’s get to the serious part. If you want to speak to your audience using the right voice, you better know who they are. For instance, you’ll address teenagers differently than you would address seniors. You’ll also adapt your writing according to the local language. Locating your audience will help you focus your marketing effort in the right area and shape your visual identity in general. You get the point: a financial consulting business in Paris will look and sound totally different than an organization for cuddling in Alabama – yes, it’s a real thing. You can Google it. In order to make sure you’re reaching the right target audience (and doing so in the best possible way), there are two critical parameters you should check out:
- Audience Demographic: How old are they? In this section, you’ll find the ages of your visitors as well as their gender. Let’s take an example close to our heart. On this blog, we have readers from all ages, but the main chunk is between 25-34 years of age. With that said, we love you no matter your age (or location).
- Audience Geo: Where are they from? The geo can show you both the language and the physical location of your visitors. No need to have a metaphorical debate about it – the idea is pretty clear.
4. Acquisition: Where are they coming from?
Knowing your audience is good. Knowing where they are coming from is even better. When we say coming from, we are not referring to the physical location but rather, the online source that brought them to you. Are you a killer Facebook player or an SEO master? Is your newsletter bringing most of your traffic or are your ads rocking the Web? Well, there is only one place to get those answers: The acquisition section of Google Analytics. The seven main traffic sources are detailed there:
- Organic search: The Googlers. This number represents the number of people who found you on search engines. Is it high? Good, you’re probably using the right keywords. If not, you should definitely do some Keyword Research. The cherry on top? If you dig in a bit, you’ll find a small portion of the keywords that are bringing you traffic – which is always useful even if you don’t get the full picture.
- Email: The readers. This insight shows you how many visitors are coming from your newsletter. Simple.
- Direct: The believers. The direct traffic indicates the number of visitors who entered your site’s address in their browser. In other words, the people who probably love you the most after your mama.
- Social: The followers. Are you more addicted to the blue bird’s 140 characters or a Zuckerberg friendly activist? Just check your social traffic and you’ll know how many people are coming from social sources – and from which platforms.
- Paid search: The consumers. If you spend a part of your budget on ads, you’ll see if your spending is bringing in leads.
- Referral: The lost. Your referral traffic breaks down all the people who came from other websites that are linking to you. Let’s say that a blog about mozzarella cheese mentions your pizzeria and links to your site, you’ll be able to track the people clicking this link inside this category. Lucky you.
- Other: The rest of them. Even Google can fail. In this section, they’ll put all the visitors they were unable to categorize in the previous sections.
5. Behavior: What are they consuming?
Almost there! Let’s just quickly understand the behavior section before we call it a day. This category shows you what page of your website is the most successful. Is your homepage a hit or are your products shining? The Behavior category shows you the pages that bring you traffic broken down by order. For bloggers, this is where the gold lives since they can accurately learn what articles (or topics) are the most successful – in the long and the short run. Understanding what your most successful pages are will help you manage the amount of effort you should put on each section of your website and nailing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Needless to say that if this article provided you with a lot of very (very) valuable information, Google Analytics can help you reach a level of accuracy that you’ve had only dream of. You can go and explore the Conversions Section to set goals for your website, discover what browsers or devices your audience uses, or even watch in real time the visitors who enter and leave your website. The possibilities are almost endless!
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