Most websites today come with some form of web data that you can review to keep an eye on your website performance, the most popular of which is Google Analytics.

The problem is that although these tools are free to use, easy to install and can give the site owner a myriad of information, many business owners are a little overwhelmed by that amount of data contained on most analytics tools and simply don’t know what data they should be looking at.

Although Google do provide very comprehensive training and help resources for Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/index.html), most business owners and managers simply do not have the time to invest in this.

With this in mind here are 5 Google Analytics criteria that you need to be checking on a regular basis.

Number of Visits/Visitors

Probably the first thing that people notice when they look at a tool such as Google Analytics are the number of visits your site has had over a set period of time. It is also important to look at the number of ‘unique visitors’ as this will determine whether or not you are getting the same people coming back to your site or fresh visitors. I’m often asked what is a good number of visitors – and there really is not a good answer. It is totally dependent on the industry you are in and the marketing that you are serving. With a lot measuerments in Google Analytics you want to be looking first and foremost at trends – is it getting better or worse over time.

Bounce rate

This can confuse some people, but in essence the bounce rate is the number of visits as a percentage that don’t stay on your site for longer than the first page. If this percentage is high it means that you may be targeting the wrong people, or your content isn’t engaging enough. Google Analytics will not only tell you the bounce rate, but will show you bounce rates for different types or traffic or traffic sources.

Traffic sources

You need to understand where the majority of your traffic is coming from and tools such as Google Analytics can easily define this. The main categories of Traffic Source would be

  • Direct Traffic – people who directly type in the name of your site
  • Organic Search Traffic – people who are finding you through Google or other search engines
  • Paid Search Traffic – people who are finding you through paid ads in Google and other search engines
  • Referrals – people who come to your site via some other site – for example if you are listed in a local directory and someone clicks on your link there, it will be recorded as a referral.

Whether your traffic has come as a redirect from other sources, or from organic searches this is an important way of understanding which marketing efforts are paying off and which need more work.

Country/Region

This is more important for local businesses, but also very relevant for companies who want to see where interest is coming from. For example, if you’re a Dentist in Galway and you check your Google Analytics report and see that the majority of your traffic is coming from Beijing, then this is going to be of little or no use to you. Okay so this may be a little extreme, but if you are experiencing traffic coming from other market areas, then it could be that there is a demand for your product in that area – or your marketing efforts are directed in the wrong place. At the very least, it can help you to discover the level of relevant traffic coming to the site.

On page content

Finally, you need to keep an eye on which pages are being viewed the most, which aren’t, and which pages send people away from your site. Google Analytics will break down all of this information for you – telling you the number of page views per page. From this you can build up an idea of what works in terms of content and what doesn’t, as well as telling you which services or products you site visitors are showing the most interest in. The pages that aren’t performing so well can then be tweaked accordingly.

So there you have it, 5 criteria you really should be looking out for when using your Google Analytics tool. If you need any further help with how Web Analytics works or you feel that your web site simply isn’t performing like it should, then call us today. You may be surprised at just how much we can help.