In this Google analytics guide, it will show you how to fully understand website traffic and realized that you won’t find a more effective software than Google Analytics. It is extremely beneficial for small businesses to see how consumers are finding your website and the steps you need to take to increase conversions.
What’s working on your website and what needs improvement?
Unfortunately, many small business owners have no clue where to begin. Google Analytics delivers a vast range of data and information overload can be overwhelming. Each piece of data is relevant to different types of business goals.
We are going to talk about how to use this information and gain insight into your web traffic. We will show you in this Google Analytics guide on how implementing these insights will ensure a higher conversion rate and ultimately generate more sales.
An Introduction to Google Analytics
Though there’s tons of accessible information available on Google Analytics it may not all be relevant for your business strategy. You’ll need to identify and track crucial pieces of data for your small business specifically and use those to help you grow.
The main screen on the platform is the Overview Screen.
It’s a great place to start to get a feel for what’s happening on your website as it contains a basic overview of data. You’ll see a summary chart of the previous month, showing the patterns in traffic. You can change the date range of this chart or compare the traffic on specific dates.
The charts can also track website activity on certain days by adding annotations. It will allow you to identify why your site has received dramatic drops or spikes in traffic.
Over time, you can see trends in your traffic and which marketing efforts are beneficial. If you’ve had a feature in an online publication or social media page you will know if it’s paid off, or if it’s not worth it.
Google Analytics Account Breakdown
Your analytics account will be split into 3 parts; Account, Property, and Views, in that order.
Account: Account in this context is not the same as your regular Google account.
Your account is your business and it can have up to about 50 properties attached to it. You’ll likely never use that many and it’s a much better setup to only hold one property per each account. It will keep your analytics simple and effective.
Property: Properties will be your websites or apps.
Each website attached to your business is classified as a property. You can see why the more properties you have, the more complex it gets. Each property will be given an ID number.
Views: Each filter or data report is called a view. Per property, you can have up to 25 different views.
You’ll want to have at least one raw view, which is unfiltered, for each property, to give you a full overview of information.
Beyond this, your other views can filter down information that’s relevant for your small business.
You can allow access to your Google Analytics account in four different ways. These brackets dictate how much access the user has.
Read & Analyze – View and manipulate data.
Collaborate – Create annotations, share dashboards and assets.
Edit – Modify, delete or add new accounts, properties, and views.
Manage Users – Add new users, assign permissions and delete users.
The most powerful permissions are Manage Users and Edit. Make sure to assign these only to people that you trust within your business, for data protection reasons.
If you just need a user to access the account and make contributions, then Read & Analyze and Collaborate will be enough.
Report and Views
You can access all sections of your analytics through the left-hand menu. Each section will have a list of subsections. Since there are so many sub-sections of reports, we will just focus on three of the main ones you will use in your business.
The first is the Audience report.
Overview: The main overview of the audience report will likely be your most useful and comprehensible of them all.
It contains a ton of vital information on one page including users, page views, sessions, session duration, bounce rate and more.
Not only is the data conclusive but it’s also presented in a pie chart which is easy to understand.
You’ll also be able to see the demographics of your traffic, including on which devices your content is viewed.
Geo: The Geo feature will show you the location of your audience as well as which language is most often used.
It will show you on a map, where the majority of your traffic is coming from.
Behavior: The behavior view will show you what your consumers are doing once they are on your website. It will track data from new visitors as well as visitors who are returning.
For those visitors, you can view a breakdown of how often they visit your site, how long they spend on it, and how many pages are viewed each time.
Overview: The main overview of the acquisition report will provide insight into where your traffic is coming from.
Again, it has a comprehensive pie chart that shows you the percentage of each traffic source.
It includes traffic from socials, referrals, direct and organic sources.
Channels: The sources of traffic are called channels.
As listed before, the channels are broken down into social, referral, email, direct and organic search traffic. You can click on each of these channels to get further details about each one.
You can alter your main channel to see a comparison by keyword (for organic traffic) or landing page.
Medium and Source: On the top of the table in channel view, or within the direct subsection, you can change the primary dimension.
Altering the basic channel grouping will allow you to see a comparison of your traffic by either medium or source.
Referrals: Referrals will be very important for your small business strategy, especially if you don’t plan to rely on organic search traffic.
If you’re going to be marketing your site via external blogs, or other online sources, this portion of the report will show you the effectiveness.
It can show you both the source page generating traffic and which landing pages get the most traffic from referrals.
Social: This view will show you how much of your web traffic comes from social media, and which platforms are most effective.
If you plan to include social media in your marketing strategy, then this view will be very important.
Behavior Flow: The behavior-specific report view has tons of custom options.
It allows you to choose how much detail you want to see in your data and how you want to group your pages.
It shows a visual overview of which pages are fostering the most beneficial results and general traffic flow.
It’s helpful for those who have very deep websites, with lots of pages, since you can easily zoom in and out.
Site Content: Site content reports will allow you to look at traffic on individual pages.
You can also view data by groups of pages.
Conversion is the word that all small business owners want to hear. Conversions equal success for your website and business.
While it’s always great to have people viewing your content and products, the goal is to convert those views into sales.
This section of the software will allow you to set your campaign goals to measure the success of your efforts.
You can track up to four goals sets, which can include anything from product views to actual completed sales. Each business will have different goals depending on the product or service.
Maybe newsletter signups are of most benefit to your business since you are aiming to convert your audience to join an online community.
Conversion data is potentially the most vital as you will use this to determine how successful your small business is as a whole.
The trackable goals are page visits, event, visit duration and destination goals. Each individual will have unique goals, so make sure you identify what is most important for your small business.
It will allow you to measure your success through the metrics of your analytics. Some trackable conversions could be through:
- Account setups
- Signups for newsletter
The Key Concepts In Google Analytics
Pageviews vs Sessions
Pageviews are one of the ways users can interact with your website during their session. Within this session, there may be many page views as well as transactions and events.
The session is a summation of actions during a viewer’s time on your page.
A session will end after thirty minutes of inactivity or if it hits midnight while the viewer is in a session.
It can also end if the viewer leaves your website and returns through a different campaign. It will then start a new session.
Metrics vs Dimensions
Metrics are the way that data is measured. A metric is a numerical figure which tells you the length of a session, number of page views, etc.
Dimensions are the describers of data. They are anything not stated as a number. For example, viewer location, web browser or keyword used in the search.
Exit Rate vs Bounce Rate
A “bounce” and an “exit” are two different concepts.
When a viewer exit’s their session it means they’ve finished their time on the website and left. It is measured with how many page-views the specific page has received.
A bounce is when a viewer leaves the page without interacting with it at all.
Goals vs Events
Both events and goals are useful for different reasons.
Events will track any interactions that apply to your strategy.
Goals will help you track the success of your events using KPIs.
There is a limit of goals 20 per view. Even if you remove a goal and replace it with another, you will still be able to view the data related to it. Goals also provide more in-depth reports then what events do.
Regardless of which goals you pick, they all fit into one of five categories.
- Pages Per Session – How many pages were viewed during a single session.
- Duration – The length of the session.
- Description – The views on a certain page.
- Smart Goals – Google Ads advertisers can set goals for automated tracking of their conversions
- Event – Goals reached when certain events are triggered.
Events can be just about anything, where goals are limited to the above 5 categories. The only limitation is the Google Analytics quota of one-hit per second.
Each event will include the following sections:
Both labels and values are optional, but all events will have a category and action.
One example of an event could be a viewer choosing to download a checklist from your site.
The category would be ‘Download’, the action would be a PDF and the label would be the name of your checklist, like checklist123.pdf.
When working with events-related data it’s really important to have a set naming structure.
This naming structure should be descriptive and avoid making it cryptic and confusing. If events are incorrectly named, you will be unable to track their data and the information will be inconclusive.
A good way to organize your naming structure is through a spreadsheet that all necessary parties have access to.
Also, remember that the names are case sensitive, so don’t forget that if you use capitals in your names.
Custom Dimension vs Content Groupings
If you are on the generic Google Analytics, the non-premium version, you will receive 20 custom dimensions and 5 different content groupings for each property.
Dimensions will need application at the property level.
Once you implement these dimensions you can apply them to Views like filters. They have many uses, such as recording unique information regarding pages, users, and sessions. You can then use this data alongside Data Import.
The implementation of content groupings is usually a bit simpler to use and you can integrate it into the report on your Behavior Flow. They allow you to group your pages based on your goals and specific needs.
The New GA4 Property
One of the newest property types in Google Analytics is called GA4.
It combines both the original web view format and the best parts of Firebase. This combination gives you the ability to view all analytics data from both website usage and app usage at the same time.
All dimensions and metrics are shared from both platforms and integrated into Google Analytics. The traditional GA model revolves around session data. This newer property type gears towards a user and events model.
If you’re familiar with Firebase, then you may already know this model type. It allows an additional level of flexibility when analyzing and reporting data.
The Perks of GA4
The development of the App + Web property type gives businesses a more conclusive look into user habits.
With in-app user interaction growing, the compiled information creates a full profile of your audience.
Some of the unique features of this property type are:
Exploration – Drag-and-drop systems allow you to look at multiple variables within a user-friendly interface.
Funnels – Build a user sales funnel with multiple steps from beginning through to conversion. You can choose to create both closed and open funnels.
Increased Measurement – This property type allows increased measurement of a variety of different actions. It’s flexible and eliminates the need for manual event tagging as everything is automated.
Some of the actions you can track are downloads, page views and the openings of your app.
Analyzing Paths – You can track and review the paths each user takes to understand how and why they are converting.
The integration of data from both app and web platforms will allow you to answer the following queries:
Do you receive more conversions through the web or app?
How many users are viewing your business on both channels combined?
How do your users’ journey between channels?
What’s the best method for gaining fresh acquisition?
Where is GA4 Lacking?
Enhanced Ecommerce Measurement isn’t supported via this property type, at least not yet.
It can also be difficult to learn, especially if you’ve never used Firebase.
To deliver the most effective results you may need time to learn and understand it.
Finally, there are no custom reports, metrics or dimensions in the product scope of this property type.
For all small business owners, regardless of industry, there is a huge benefit to using Google Analytics effectively.
With so many customizable features, you’ll have the tools to not only gain more traffic but also higher conversions.
Google Analytics is the key to understanding your users and their behaviors to accurately market to them and provide value. Your small business can predict future behaviors allowing you to progress and excel with them.
Free Google Analytics Audits
We partner with Optimo Analytics to get free and automated Google Analytics audits to find issues or areas of improvement in you GA property.