5 Basics of Google Analytics

If you constantly find your self wondering how to use Google Analytics (CA), you are not alone. Although Google Analytics has been around for several years now, there are still many marketers that feel overwhelmed even just opening the platform. It is a key tool in learning more about your website and audience and how you can ultimately reach your marketing goals.

In this blog we are going to go over the 5 basic measurements that will give you key insights to the overall effectiveness of your website.

To get started, go to www.google.com/analytics/ and sign in. Once you sign in, click the “audience” drop down menu on the far left and then click “overview.”

WHAT: “Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.”

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: The number of website visitors is a great indicator to the effectiveness of a CVB. It’s important to not only know how many people visit your website, but to also compare it year-over-year.

WHAT: “Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.”

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: This number provides a grand total of the number of pages that were viewed on your website within a certain time frame. This can be a much more impressive number to share, and can highlight an effective website for inspiration.

WHAT: How long people spend on your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: The longer people stay on your site, the more likely they are to convert. If you are seeing session durations under 90 seconds, it’s time to make your site more engaging. 

WHAT: The average number of pages people visit on your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: This metric helps determine if your website inspires people to click around, or leave from the homepage. We like to see websites with 3+ pages per session.

WHAT: Percentage of people who “bounce out” of your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: High bounce rates can indicate a couple things:

1) Your content does not match the promise of what they hoped to find.

2) Your page took too long to load.

3) The content was unappealing (bad imagery, useless information, too much information, etc.)

4) The content was so useful that people did not linger on the page because they found what they needed. Keep these things in mind when evaluating a page with high bounce rates!

Note: Average session duration, pages per session and bounce rate: These metrics are also tracked for individual pages on your website. The majority of this data can be found on the left side bar under Behavior > Site Content.

Now that you’ve learned these basics of Google Analytics, continue your learning at the links below:

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How to Combat Dark Traffic in Google Analytics

You should get credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, “Dark Traffic” can be hidden from Google Analytics and website clicks that you drive from social media might not be showing up. Read on to learn everything you need to know about “dark traffic” and what you should do to combat it. 

First of all, dark traffic will show up in your Google Analytics as “direct/none.”Likely, you’ll see this in your top 5 ‘source / medium’. The standard belief is that direct traffic is from users typing in a URL or bookmarking the page, but this isn’t entirely true. Basically, it is a catch-all for traffic that Google Analytics can’t track where it’s coming from. For more info on direct traffic, click here.  

However, dark traffic is any traffic that Google Analytics is improperly recording as ‘direct/none.’ This means that ‘direct/none’ traffic is being overreported and other sources, such as paid or social might be underreported. What does it mean for you? It means that your efforts could be going unacknowledged. 

How does dark traffic occur? The two most common causes are URL shorteners like Bit.ly or Hootsuite, or Desktop programs and mobile applications like Outlook or Apple Mail. For example, if you post a shortened link on Twitter and a user clicks it, it does not calculate on Google Analytics. The same goes for when you send out an email newsletter and a user clicks on it from a mobile email application. In both of these instances, Google Analytics will incorrectly categorize it as ‘direct/none.’ Learn more here.

The answer is plain and simple: utilize UTM codes. A UTM code is a code that is easily added to the end of a URL to track the performance of your marketing efforts. This may sound confusing, but have no fear! As you should still use shortened links, Google offers a Campaign URL Builder(with a bit.ly shortener option) for you to utilize and there’s a Chrome extension that you can try, too! 

When you’re using the tool, keep in mind that “source” and “medium” are the most important. Some platforms, likeFacebook and Mailchimp, have implemented solutions to combat this missing traffic. However, make sure you implement UTM codes when using link shorteners on other social channels, and in your email campaigns, otherwise you won’t be able to track the traffic of these links correctly!

Dark traffic, unfortunately is something in the digital marketing world that is unavoidable entirely, but by using the strategies that we outlined above, you will be able to more accurately track the success of your latest campaign or blog. 

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