Start Digital
Oct 12, 2018 · 6 min read

Whether your website ranks highly or not, Google wants you and your business to thrive. It’s in their best interest that you do well. To help you understand your website and all the data it is constantly generating they’ve released a range of free tools to help you shine a light. Alongside Google My Business and Google Search Console, Google Analytics is one of the best free tools on offer. It also happens to be one of our digital agency’s go-tos for making informed decisions for ourselves and our clients.

A Google Analytics Low-Down

Released back in 2005, Google Analytics is a popular web analytics tool that tracks and reports a website’s traffic. Despite its vast popularity, a lot of businesses still stay away because Google Analytics can be a bit overwhelming. Many businesses in particular small ones, understand the need for website analytics but aren’t sure how Google Analytics can be beneficial to their business.

From real-time users to behavioural flows all the way to cohort analysis and benchmarking, Google Analytics provides a vast amount of information. Given how widespread this data is, it takes time to figure out the most beneficial statistics for your business. (Often, it’s a lot of them together but that’s a whole other post.) So, we have picked 3 key elements for those starting out with Google Analytics. There are plenty more — we really have only skimmed the surface — but these are pretty simple to get your head around if you’re new to website analytics, data, and conversion.

Audience, Acquisition, and Behaviour

Google Analytics List
Once you’ve logged into your Google Analytics account, a list of options will be presented on the left-hand side of the screen. Beneath Home and Customisation, you’ll find a Reports section where Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversions are presented. We’re going to look at the A’s and B, in a bit more detail.

1. Audience

Inspecting your website visitors in relation to their demographics, interests, geographic and behavioural segmentation amongst more, Audience provides a lot of details about, yes you guessed it — your audience! Here’s where you can gain insight into your website visitor’s age, gender, location, web browser type and more. The better you know your audience, the greater your business’ ability to solve their problems and support their needs and wants. Often this involves your business more effectively assembling your website and marketing efforts.

If an exploration into your audience uncovers that your audience is mainly females, your business should look into applying a more feminine touch towards your marketing content and website. Alternatively, if your demographic is primarily young adults within the 18–24 age group, your content needs to have a fresh, youthful vibe that appeals to that particular generation.

Geographic information can help determine website content and the delivery of advertisements. While you can’t break down the statistics into suburbs, Google Analytics nonetheless can still be helpful. For example, it if shows your website is gaining a lot of traction from Sydney despite primarily focusing on Perth, you might want to create a new page that target’s Sydney customers. Conversely, if you’re not gaining a lot of traction for particular geographic regions but want to, you could establish web pages and run advertisements focusing on those areas.

Furthermore, you can look new and returning visitors and your engagement levels. Decisions such as whether or not your business needs to do more to bring in new visitors and implement strategies to encourage more loyal, returning visitors such as content marketing will be influenced by the data presented here.

You can also see which devices your audience and even the types of browser or mobile phone. If any of your website visits are using mobile or tablet devices, this means you’ve got to ensure that your website mobile-friendly. (A side note, this is an absolute must regardless because Google is already prioritising mobile-indexing over desktop!).

2. Acquisition

As the title suggests, the Acquisition section tells you where your website traffic came from. You might be thinking, why does that matter? All that matters is people are visiting the site! Because that is essentially all that matters, using this information to further boost those positive outcomes is critical.

For instance, if your website visitors came from a guest blog, you’re going to want to explore other guest blogging opportunities and see if you can replicate the results. Similarly, if you’re driving a lot of traffic from social media, you’re going to want to keep going with that. On the other hand, if a particular acquisition source isn’t currently driving enough traffic, you know to explore opportunities which seek to reverse that.

By clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and modifying the time period in the top right corner, you can analysis particular days and periods to see if any changes correspond to business activity on that day such as releasing a blog or sending out an email newsletter. This analysis can be further honed by clicking onto each channel and exploring the presented information. For example, if you click on Social you will see the exact social media platform that directed a visitor to your website.

If Organic Search drives little traffic, it’s likely your business needs to explore where your business ranks on search engine result pages. If you’re hiding with the dead bodies on Page 2 and beyond, your business needs (to immediately) to start implementing Search Engine Optimisation.

One tip of Start Digital advice is that your business implements one marketing strategy at a time. If you try several different avenues at once, you’re likely to experience difficulties pinning down the impact each strategy has. Sticking to one campaign at a time means you can see clearly which campaign yields the greatest results. Once you’re aware of what’s working, you can rise and repeat and for those less effective strategies, focus on fine-tuning.

3. Behaviour

The Behaviour sections focus on the behaviour of your visitors (how your audience interacts with your website).

Under this section, you’ll be informed which pages perform the best and can explore their pageviews, bounce rate and exit rates through clicking on Behaviour > Site Content > Content Drilldown. The segment will also present information about landing pages, exit pages and how and if a visitor flows from page to page on your site. All of these results will help you determine if campaigns and content need to be adjusted.

This is also the place to check your site speed. Nobody likes a slow loading site. People are too busy to hang around. A recent study has found that almost 50% of a web user expects a website to load within 2 seconds and that for every second over 2, your business could be losing customers and sales. Whilst technical work is often required to drastically change a site speed, there’s a lot of super easy optimisation that you can do with ease such as optimising your images through TinyPNG or TinyPNG.

We Get It

We know Google Analytics can be overwhelming. But it’s something that your business should stick with. It’s way too valuable of a tool to be ignored as even the most basic stats such as demographic breakdowns will help you drive content. By taking into account the information provided by Google Analytics, you’ll position your business to generate more traffic and leads, in turn creating customers and loyal fans.

It’s never too late, early or not important enough to take time to consult your website statistics with making a decision.

This article originally appears on the Start Digital website and has been repurposed for Medium.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 377,643 people.

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Start Digital

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Digital Australians helping Analog Australians build digital products. Start. Don’t stop.

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