You’ve spent countless hours writing the web copy based on SEO best practices for your freshly designed and newly launched website using the latest and greatest accessible web technologies, and that’s great news! But your work is not done. It’s of dire importance that after you’ve launched a new website, you start and continue monitoring it to understand how well it is – or is not – driving traffic, maintaining users and performing overall. Enter your new best friend, Google Analytics.
While there are many analytics tools out there, Google Analytics is a free tool that provides copious amounts of data on your website, giving you deep insights into your users’ behavior. Since Google Analytics offers so much, it’s easy to get lost in its dashboards and data streams, so let’s simplify things a bit and focus on the top seven metrics you should absolutely be measuring.
To access your user data in Google Analytics navigate to Audience > Overview. The overview will break down your users into two categories: new users (those who have never visited your site) and returning users (those who have). It’s important to track how many users visit your site each month so you can see how your overall web traffic changes month to month.
A session is defined by Google Analytics as “a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.” A session is different than a user because one unique visitor can visit your website for multiple sessions. To access your session data in Google Analytics navigate to Audience > Overview.
3. Pages per session
The pages per session metric measures the number of pages a unique user views during a session. If you notice an increase in your pages per session metric, that is great news and means that users are navigating to more pages on your site when visiting rather than leaving your website after reading one page. To access your pages per session in Google Analytics navigate to Audience > Overview.
The devices metric in Google Analytics is a breakdown of what devices your users are accessing your website on via desktop, mobile and tablet. Once you know what devices your users are primarily accessing your website through, you can prioritize what you want to focus on optimizing first for the best user experience. To access your devices metrics in Google Analytics navigate to Audience > Mobile > Overview.
5. Source/medium and channels
The source metric in Google Analytics illustrates where your web traffic originates from, including Google’s search engine, another website or direct traffic. The medium metric will tell you the general category of how a user arrives at your website, such as through organic means, pay-per-click, etc. The channel metric also tells you the traffic source within the same medium, such as organic search, direct, social, email, etc. To access your source/medium and channels in Google Analytics navigate to Acquisition > Overview, Channels, and Source/Medium sections.
6. Pageview and unique pageviews
The pageview metric informs you of the total number of views per page. Each individual page view is counted even if a user views the same page more than once. If you want to filter out the multiple page views you can reference the unique pageview metric which means if a user visits a page multiple times within the same session, it will not be counted multiple times. To access your pageview and unique pageviews in Google Analytics navigate to Behavior > Overview. To view your top viewed pages, visit Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
7. Average time on page
The average time on page metric tells you the average amount of time a user is spending on a page. This is helpful to inform you if people are reading your content or navigating away from a page quickly. If you want to keep your users engaged on a page longer, consider adding more media to your posts or pages. For example, embedding a video on a page will likely increase the time spent on that page if the user takes the time to watch it. To access your average time on page in Google Analytics navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > Avg. Time on Page.
These metrics are just the bare minimum of what you should be tracking on your website. There’s so much more to explore within the dashboards of Google Analytics. If you need assistance or guidance with your blog or website’s analytics, contact NST. Our team is here to help.