Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool. It allows you to see almost exactly who is visiting your website, how they got there, what they are looking at when they are there, and what triggers certain actions – from signing up for an email list to buying your product.
But Google, as they are wont to do, doesn’t offer a lot of assistance in managing their most powerful reporting tool.
For small business owners who paid for a website and now have all this data pouring in, it can be incredibly overwhelming trying to parse what any of it means. I get this question a lot.
How exactly do you put the data in Google Analytics to use best, without spending hour after hour digging through all those numbers, obsessing about bounce rates and time on site?
To start, the vast majority of those numbers are not important. Well, that’s not entirely accurate.
Every number in Google Analytics reports is important, but some are MORE important, and so they should be the ones by which you measure your success.
1. Total Traffic
Technically there are three number here, but really it all comes down to the total number of people visiting your site.
Simply put, are you getting results from your SEO and marketing efforts? When you look at traffic, there are three ways to process it, however:
- New Visitors – What percentage of people visiting your site are new? Ideally you want between 75% and 80% new visitors – meaning you have a solid 25% of people who return to your site for news, information and direction. If you sell products that number could be further skewed to repeat visitors.
- Organic Traffic – What percentage of your traffic comes from organic sources like Google searches, clicks on Facebook and Twitter, or links from guest posts? This is the best traffic because it is often consistent over time, even after your campaign ends.
- Traffic Growth – How is your traffic growing over time? Clients often fret about low numbers, but if we see growth from one month to the next, especially steady growth, good things are happening.
The bottom line is this – more people seeing your site means more people who COULD become customers.
2. Bounce Rate
Simply put, bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site in the first 3-10 seconds. We’re not sure exactly how long constitutes a “bounce” but it basically means someone left early – before they could possibly have found an answer to their question.
So if 100 people visit your site and 55 of them leave before clicking any links or reading more than a sentence or two, your bounce rate would be 55%.
A good bounce rate is less than 60%. A great bounce rate is less than 50%. An amazing bounce rate is less than 40%. When we see numbers in the 70%-80% range, we know something is wrong – usually with the way information is presented or promised on the site.
3. Site Engagement
Finally, how much and how long do people engage with content on your site? This refers to time on site and the total number of pages someone reads when they are on your site. The higher these numbers, the better your site looks to search engines who want sites to solve problems.
If someone spends 10 minutes on your site and reads 11 pages, they clearly found the answer to SOME problem. You get points for that in Google’s book. While knowing these numbers is not enough to make them better, it gives you a head start when deciding where to allocate your marketing budget and improve your statistics.
It also helps a lot when discussing best options with your marketing firm.