Welcome back to part 2 of our multi-part article series about Google Analytics. (Check out part 1 in case you missed it.) Now that we understand more clearly what this program is and why it’s worthwhile for your business and its website, we’re going to dive deeper into the subject with a good old fashioned vocabulary lesson.
Bear in mind that there is absolutely no rush to memorize every single one of these terms in a day. Think of this article as a helping hand if you want to refresh your memory, or if you’re brand new to understanding what Google Analytics is and are following our article series. If you ever get stuck, you can click on the question mark on the top left of your Google Analytics account and access the Help Centre. From there, you can search terms and other know-how. Another way to view exact terms is by hovering your mouse over the term itself, and a pop-up of text should appear with an explanation.
If, however, you don’t have Google Analytics yet or are still learning, here’s a good place to start as well. Now, on with the meat of the subject.
Terms Used Within Google Analytics:
Referral traffic: visits to your website from sources outside of Google and its search engine. The original source refers traffic from one place to the next. Examples can be directory websites, social media accounts, and other search engines.
Demographics: categories relating to the age, gender, and interests of users in traffic data.
Bounce rate: the percentage of sessions calculated during a selected date range where a user visited a page on your website and then left without interacting with any elements on the same page. The higher it is, the more likely something is deterring people from your website (especially if it’s the home page).
Traffic sources: this is a collection of data on how users are discovering your website. Sources include referral sites, direct traffic channels, organic search, social media sites, and paid search from Adwords.
Users: the people visiting your website or a page on it. This data reveals how many visitors to your business’s website initiated at least one session during select date ranges.
Audiences: these are custom groups of users. You can create these groups to help you identify specific types of users within Google Analytics’s reports, ad campaigns, marketing efforts, and other webmaster tools used via Google.
Sessions: sessions are the periods of time when a user is actively engaged with your website during a select date range.
Direct Traffic: sometimes users will start a session on your website without coming from a trackable source. A direct traffic example is when someone types your business website’s URL into their browser instead of clicking on the link inside of Google’s search results.
Campaigns: these track the specific ways users are discovering your website. You can create custom campaigns to track specific groups of traffic sources within Google Analytics itself. Google Analytics will also track any advertising campaigns you create in Google Adwords.
Page views: this is the total number of web pages that were visited on your website during a select date range.
Pages/Session: this indicates the average number of pages being visited per session during a select date range. This includes repeated views of a single web page.
Conversions & goals: specific objectives that you deem as valuable for your business’s success. These objectives range from submissions for a quote request form, submissions to contact your company, and purchases from your online store. The conversions are the number of times when users on your website completed each of the goals you defined as valuable.
Funnels: paths that users go on to complete a goal. This path could be wanting to buy something, or looking for information.
Basic Features in Google Analytics:
Home – the page you will first see when you log in to Google Analytics. Here you can access the menu and Help section if need be.
Customization – from here, you can create and customize the reports per select date ranges. If there are certain conversions, direct traffic, and referrals you find to be important, this is a great place to start.
Audience – this offers the most colourful picture of where your customers are coming from, how long they’re staying on your website, and what their demographics and interests are. It will also tell you how many people are visiting via mobile devices as opposed to desktop. Interests are a great feature to use in this section if you want to discover exactly what kind of products your customers are the most interested in.
Acquisition – in this section, you can view with a handy colourful pie graph just what kind of traffic your website has been getting. You can check out how many people are clicking through to your website via social media or compare direct vs. organic vs. referral traffic. If you’re more concerned about what kind of keywords people are using to look your website up, you can click on ‘Campaigns’ under ‘Acquisition’ in the menu and view the most highly used keywords from paid ad campaigns or organic keywords.
Behavior – here you can discover the flow of traffic to your website, which also has a great visualization aspect to it. If you want to know how well your content marketing campaigns are doing, you can view the landing pages where people are first entering your website. Plus, you can customize the reports so that you can either read them as numbers or as a pie graph. There is one feature in this section that’s especially handy to webmasters, and that’s Page Timings. This section helps to identify the slowest landing pages that users are accessing the most. Since site speed is related to how high or low a bounce rate can be, it’s crucial to know why people aren’t following through with conversions.
Goals – these are a must-use feature for any ecommerce business. The funnel visualization in this feature, once you set up a goal, can help you pinpoint where optimization needs to be made for improving conversion numbers. You can also use this section to diagnose any issues with conversions, such as an issue on the contact page or other form landing pages.
While there are a ton more features to view in Google Analytics, these listed ones can give you the best picture of how well your website is performing, where improvements need to be made, and who’s visiting your website.
Stay tuned for part 3, in which we cover how to set up your Google Analytics account and advanced tips!