GOALS FOR THIS SESSION
In this session, you’ll learn:
- Why analytics are important for your marketing system…
- What many of the commonly-used terms actually mean…
Your goals at the end of this session:
- Install Google Analytics on your website…
- Make sure your website is connected to the Google Search Console…
- Install Clicky Analytics (optional) for real-time reporting…
Why Analytics Is So Important
There’s a well-known saying amongst marketers:
You can’t improve what you don’t measure…
In other words, if you don’t know who is visiting your website, how they’re behaving, and what they’re doing, there’s no way you can make intelligence-driven improvements to your marketing message.
Without quality analytics data, any attempt to optimize your website’s performance will be random, and no more effective than poking around in the dark.
At best, you might stumble into an improvement now and again.
At worst, you could wreak havoc on your website and make an already bad situation even less effective.
In both cases, you’ll have no idea why you made the changes you did, or what caused the results you see from them.
Know Your Numbers
You probably don’t drift around from month to month without paying attention to your bank account and how many sales you made, right?
(At least, I really hope so LoL)
You obviously know how much money comes in, and how much goes out each month.
The same thing should apply to keeping track of your marketing performance and website analytics.
The good news, installing analytics software on your website and blog is easy to do.
The bad news, I see a lot of websites with analytics tracking installed, but the owner rarely bothers to check the data, which is as bad as not doing it at all.
I can understand why this happens.
A lot of folks find looking at their analytics to be confusing and more than a little intimidating.
Plus, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, is it?
To help overcome this hurdle, here are some of the more common analytics terms explained and demystified.
Analytics Terms Explained
Google Analytics breaks their data down into 4 main sections, the first one being “audience”.
Basically, this refers to the demographic-style data about your website visitors, including such information as:
- Where they’re located…
- The device they used to view your website…
- Which browser they used…
- Some of their interests…
- Age and gender…
This is a good way to see where most of your visitors are located, and can be especially helpful if your business is focused on serving people within a small geographical region.
A fancy term for how people found your website.
This is broken down into traffic sources, such as search engines, social media, paid advertising, and tracking campaigns.
Obviously, this section will give you a good idea of where your visitors come from, and some insights into how well your social media and SEO activities are working for you.
This one is self-explanatory.
The data in this section is aimed at helping you to understand what your visitors did on your website, the pages they viewed, how long they stayed, and the path they took from entrance to exit.
Conversion data is concerned with your tracking goals, and which of your visitors completed the goals you set up.
For example, you could define your “thank you” page as an analytics goal when someone signs up for your email list or to get your lead magnet.
This data is invaluable in determining the performance of landing pages, opt-in pages, sales pages, or anything on your website where the user is expected to take some kind of measurable action.
A session is a way of measuring a single visit to your website.
A session starts as soon as a visitor lands on any page of your site (as long as analytics is enabled for that page, obviously).
The session ends when they close the browser tab, or they navigate to another website.
If the same person visits your site again, it counts as a new session.
Users are classed as individual people (more accurately, individual IP addresses) who have viewed any page on your website.
These are also referred to as “unique visits”, and this information can be as important to you as, say, simply the number of sessions.
You can use this information to determine the percentage breakdown between new visitors and returning visitors, both of which are useful to know from a marketing perspective.
This refers to the raw number of pages accessed across your whole website.
As a metric, it’s not all that useful to most of us on its own, but it does form the basis for other useful metrics (see below).
Pages / Session
When people land on your website, you want them to become engaged with your content.
This metric is one of the ways you can measure the level of user engagement.
The more pages each visitor views could indicate a high level of engagement, but not necessarily. Therefore, you should also take this data in conjunction with the time spent on each page.
For example, suppose you see a “pages / session” value of 5.
That looks good on the surface, until you realize they spend an average of 5 seconds on each page.
In that scenario, it appears that your visitors arrived in search of something specific, but failed to find what they were looking for.
As you can see, you must invest some time to interpret the data in terms of your specific website, where people come from, and what their intent was at the time of their visit.
Once you can see a potential problem, you can work to correct it.
Average Session Duration
This metric is tied into the previous one, as I already mentioned, and is simply a way for you to gauge how long each visitor stays, on average.
When someone lands on your website, but then leaves without viewing any other page on your site, it’s called a bounce.
For example, if they click on a search result in Google, land on your page, but then hit the back button, that would be a bounce.
Likewise, it would also be considered a bounce if they landed as a result of a referral from social media or a link from another website, and then close their browser after seeing only that one page.
A lot of folks get hung up on this one, and end up wasting a lot of time trying to lower it as much as possible.
To be clear, there is no “good” bounce rate, only some fuzzy guidelines, depending on the type of website you have.
For instance, the bounce rate for any given page can vary according to different factors:
- The intended goal for the page…
- The source of the visitor…
- The visitor’s geographical location…
Blog posts, for example, tend to have a high bounce rate because people follow a link, read the post, and then leave. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean the post was a marketing flop.
It’s also worth noting that bounce rate can be measured differently.
Google Analytics has the strictest definition: If the visitor looks at only one page—regardless of any other data—it’s considered a bounce.
On the other hand, Clicky real-time analytics is a little more realistic: A bounce is only counted if the visitor spends less than 30 seconds on the page.
In the end, the decision on whether or not to invest time and effort to reduce bounce rate should be determined on a page by page basis, according to how well the page is reaching its intended goal.
Installing And Reading Google Analytics
You can access your Google Analytics account (or start one, if you don’t one already) here.
The important thing at this stage is to make sure you do have a Google Analytics (GA) account, and that you’ve created a property within GA to track your website data.
From there, you can take the tracking code, install it on your website, and you should be good to go.
Most website systems, and some WordPress themes, offer a “site-wide” header scripts section where you can paste the code.
If you use WordPress, you can also use a plugin, such as Google Analytics For WordPress By MonsterInsights to make it a little easier for you.
Whatever you do, do not skip this step!
You can access the various metrics and other analytics data from the appropriate sections of your GA reports, especially from the “overviews” in each section.
Using Clicky Real-Time Analytics
Clicky is an another analytics tracker you should seriously consider using.
I use it in addition to Google Analytics because it provides all the relevant data in simple and easy-to-understand dashboards. In fact, it’s my personal favorite for keeping on top of my website analytics on a daily basis.
You can even use Clicky to see—in real-time—who is on your website, and the pages they’re viewing.
Like GA, you can install Clicky on your website with a simple piece of tracking code, inserted into the header of each page.
There’s also a WordPress plugin that can do the same thing for you.
Important Tool: Google Search Console
The Google Search Console used to be called “Google Webmaster Tools”.
It’s a powerful tool that tells you how Google sees your website from a search engine perspective and how your site is being found by search visitors.
The data provided by the Google Search Console is invaluable, and cannot be found elsewhere, so I highly recommend you take the time to familiarize yourself with it.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to register your website with the Google Search Console, so you can start collecting this all-important data to help with your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
The important data you can get from this tool falls into 4 main categories:
- Search Appearance
- Structured data shows information about the markup (coding) of your pages, highlighting potential problems…
- HTML improvements, as suggested by Google…
- Search Traffic
- Search analytics is the most useful, and can show you the clicks, impressions, click-through-rate (CTR), and position in the search listings…
- Links to your site is intended to show the incoming links you have from other websites…
- Internal links can show you how the content on your site is interlinked…
- Google Index
- The index status will show you how many pages are currently in the Google index…
- Various crawl stats reported by the Google spiders as they attempt to crawl and analyze your website…