How to get the most out of Google Analytics | W3 Lab

How to get the most out of Google Analytics

Google Analytics was launched in 2005, and today, it is the most widely used web analytics service on the internet.

It is used for tracking website traffic, and has a ton of useful features, some of them including visitor session duration, bounce rate, pages the user visited during their session, their locations, keyword referrals, but it also has some more advanced features, such as finding slow loading pages on your website.

Google Analytics is a must-use tool for everyone who is looking to improve their website, learn more about their visitors, and how they interact with their website.

Here are 9 tips on how to get the most out of this useful service

  1. Properly configure Google Analytics
  2. Make sure you know what your goals are
  3. Make your own dashboard and reports
  4. Find pages with slow loading times and make them faster
  5. Use Google Analytics to keep your bounce rate low
  6. Monitor your organic traffic using Google Analytics
  7. Learn about your visitors via Google Analytics
  8. Use the Site Search option to learn even more about your visitors
  9. Compare newer results with the old ones

1. Properly configure Google Analytics

Like every other service that Google offers, Google Analytics has a ton of features and tabs, which means that it can overwhelm a first-time user.

Therefore, it is important to take it slow and really take your time setting up your website’s Google Analytics and learning about everything that it has to offer.

Making an account and setting it up is easy – there are only a few fields you have to fill out, including the link to your website and the name of your profile. Really, it takes less than 5 minutes. Once you’ve filled out all the forms, Google will take you to your Google Analytics home, which will look like this:

the homepage of google analytics - google analytics dashboard
Google Analytics Dashboard – Home

Now, you can set up your goals, reports, link Google Analytics to your Google Ads account, grant permissions (if there will be other users helping you manage your Google Analytics), and much more. In the following paragraphs, we will look at these features and explain them more in detail and how you can get good use of them.

2. Make sure you know what your goals are

Goals are not only good to know when you’re running ad campaigns. Google Analytics isn’t an ad service, but since you’re tracking the behavior of your visitors and the performance of your website, you will want to measure them in some way, which is what goals are for.

Your goals can be anything: more sales, lead generation, newsletter sign-ups, content download, donations, anything really.

You can select your goals the following way:

  1. Click Conversions in the menu on the left
  2. Select Overview
  3. Click Set up goals
  4. Press the red button that says +NEW GOAL
  5. Select the template of your goal (it can be one of the options or a custom one)
  6. Give it a fitting description
  7. Add the necessary details
selecting goal in google analytics - google analytics goal selection
Selecting the goal template in Google Analytics

It is good that you select your goals as soon as possible, so the second you start getting your first visitors, you can immediately see what actions they’re performing on your website.

3. Make your own dashboard and reports

This option is one of the reasons why Google Analytics is such a good service. By letting you create your own custom dashboard and reports, it gives you the option of seeing only what you want to see, with no information that is unimportant to you.

To make your custom dashboard, select Customization in the menu on the left, and then Dashboards. You will then see a red button that says CREATE, and after pressing it, Google Analytics will give you the option to either start from a Blank Canvass or a Starter Dashboard.

Now, you can customize your dashboard to your heart’s desire and add any widget that you know you want to see.

How useful is this?

To make a custom report, select Customization in the menu on the left, and press Custom Reports. Select +New Custom Report, and then choose the metrics that you want the report to contain.

4. Find pages with slow loading times and make them faster

If you select Behavior, you will get a drop-down menu that will contain the option Site Speed. This option shows you how quickly users were able to see and interact with your content.

This option will show you the pages of your website that need improvement. Website speed can be affected by a number of issues, of which content that is not optimized and bad coding are among the most common culprits.

page loading speed
Slow loading pages greatly affect bounce rate | Source

The site speed option is especially useful because it will show you the speed of your website on different browsers and in different countries, as well, and it also has the option of showing you either all the users or users that have completed a certain goal.

Make sure that your page speed loads under 5 seconds, because once it reaches 5, the probability of bounce rate increases 90%. If your page speed is 1 to 3 seconds, you’re good. If your website was made by a professional digital agency or a developer with a lot of experience, you shouldn’t have issues with page speed, because they do a ton of testing and benchmarking before they present you with the final product.

5. Use Google Analytics to keep your bounce rate low

If you use Google Analytics, chances are high that you already know what bounce rate is. But if you don’t, it is the percentage of users who visit your website, view only one page, and don’t perform any actions before closing it.

A high bounce rate signifies that there is something wrong with your website – most often, people leave because they got too confused by your layout and navigation or your pages were too slow to load. 

google analytics
Google Analytics | Source

You can find your bounce rate if you select Behavior on the left panel, and then Site Content, followed by Landing Pages.

A landing page is a page that people see when they click on your website, whether it is the homepage or another page they clicked from search engine pages, or a different page that they landed on after clicking one of your ads on the internet.

Make sure to check your bounce rate frequently (every day, if possible), and then look at the pages that have a high bounce rate and try to find what it is about them that makes users leave.

Maybe it is the layout of your page, code that is not implemented correctly, text that is hard to read or not enough information about a product or service.

6. Monitor your organic traffic using Google Analytics

Organic traffic is the traffic that you gain without paying for ads. Simply put, it is the number of users who naturally find your website, decide that it’s worth visiting and give it a shot. It is the opposite of paid traffic, which you gain by paying for ads.

website traffic
There are two kinds of website traffic – paid traffic and organic traffic | Source

You can see your organic traffic if you click Acquisition on the left panel, then Campaigns and finally Organic Keywords. The reason the option is called ‘organic keywords’ is because -you guessed it – the clever use of keywords is what helps you rank on search engine pages.

Google Analytics doesn’t just show you the organic traffic you get from Google, but also other search engines. You get the option to see which search engines have brought you the most organic traffic, as well as landing pages, city,  and country.

The most common tactics used for increasing your organic traffic include search engine optimization (SEO), starting a blog and updating it regularly, using long-tail keywords, creating content that is unique and quality, using internal links and having your content on websites with high authority, using social media, and many more.

7. Learn about your visitors via Google Analytics

This service is amazing if you want to learn more about your visitors and see who visits your website the most and makes purchases.

If you select Audience and then User Explorer, followed by Overview, Google Analytics will show you a page of what the demographics and interest reports entail. Press Enable, so that Google Analytics can start collecting this information from your visitors.

learing about visitors
Learning about your visitors can greatly help you with your ad campaigns | Source

As people start visiting your website, Google Analytics will start learning about their age, gender, interests, location, and language. But this isn’t all. This tool can also tell which visitors are new vs returning and what devices, browsers, and networks they’re using.

This is especially useful because it can help you find possible problems. For example, if a number of people who are visiting your website from a certain device are staying less than people using other devices, there might be something wrong with your website and it may be not loading fully or is showing up broken for them.

So, make sure to enable the demographics and interests report.

8. Use the Site Search option to learn even more about your visitors

Just when you think you know everything that Google Analytics has to offer, you find another useful option.

Select Admin on the bottom left of your screen, then press View Settings on the far right column.

If you select Behavior, and then Site Search, you will get access to a ton more data about how your visitors are behaving on your website. This option revolves around your website’s internal search, so the information it provides is what people are searching on your website and how efficiently they found what they were looking for.

simple website layout ecommerce
Simple layouts and navigations are everything when it comes to eCommerce websites | Source

Having a search bar on your website is of significant importance, especially if you own an eCommerce business. You want people to be able to find what they’re looking for within seconds of landing on your website.

Same goes for the navigation – make sure your website’s navigation isn’t confusing and is easy to find and use. Some people might not use the search bar and prefer looking through your website before buying anything from you. By having a simple navigation, you’re enabling them to have a good user experience.

9. Compare newer results with the old ones

Once a few weeks have passed and you have a good collection of reports, we advise you to compare the old reports with the new ones.

This can lead you to learning a ton about how much progress you’ve made, and also if you made any mistakes and did anything wrong. If your website’s bounce rate is higher in the newer reports, there could be something wrong with one of your pages or coding. Look through your website, and see if everything is in order.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics tool, with dozens of features that can help you learn about the traffic on your website and your visitors.

To get the most out of this incredibly useful service, make sure to properly configure your Google Analytics and take your time to learn about everything it has to offer. Think about your goals and set them up right after setting up your account, and make sure to give a shot to personalized reports and dashboard, which can make navigation easier.

Use Google Analytics to find pages that load slowly and improve their speed to further improve the user experience of your visitors. Google Analytics also allows you to check your bounce rate, so you can always be on top of it and make sure it doesn’t go up.

Using Google Analytics, you can also monitor your organic traffic and work on making it higher, but also learn about your visitors and who they are and where they’re from.

Thank you for reading!

Marija Milosavljević
Marija Milosavljević

Graduated as first in her class. Incredibly quiet and shy until the lag in Warframe turns her into a raging death-bunny.

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