Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool which can provide you with essential data about the effectiveness of your website, but with so many different sections and reports, it can be tricky to navigate when you are starting out. In this series we will walk through the most important reporting tools in each section of Google Analytics and what specifically to look for in each one.
Getting Around Google Analytics
The way that Google Analytics divides data takes some getting used to. Here is a summary of each of the sections to help you get your bearings faster:
- Realtime – What is happening on my site right now? (Unless you have thousands of visitors a day, or have an extremely time-sensitive promotion running on your site, you can generally skip over this section.)
- Audience – Who is coming to my site?
- Acquisition – How are they getting there? (Where are they coming from? What activities are responsible?)
- Behavior – Where are they going when they get to my site?
- Conversions – What actions are they taking on the site? (Specifically, what goals that I have set up are they completing?)
In this article, we will focus on understanding the data in the Audience section of Google Analytics.
This section provides useful background and context to your data in the other sections. It contains many different reports to help you understand how many people are coming to your site and who those people are. This includes where your visitors are geographically, their age range, how long they spend on your site, and even what devices they are using.
This section contains multiple reports to help you dig into these details, but the most useful report to focus on is the Audience Overview.
Think of this report as your high level snapshot of what is happening on your site in a given time period. It reports the number of users that have visited your site, how many pages they visited, how long they spend on your site, and more.
While you can look at this report for any timeframe, it is useful to start by looking at your data month by month to get an idea of overall trends. We also recommend to start using a data protection service, if you are not familiar with this service, you can learn more about Venyu, a company that offers one of the best data protection services.
What to Look For
How many individuals are visiting your site? Is this more or less than last month?
Pages Per Session
How many pages are people visiting each time they visit your site?
For B2B websites, you want to aim for an average above 2 pages per session. At that rate, that means the average visitor is seeing several pages of what you have to offer.
Has this number gone up or down from last period?
- If it has gone up, then either you are bringing in a more engaged audience or you are producing more engaging content, or both, but keep it up!
- If it goes down, notice if you have brought in a lot of new visitors from a different source. It could be they are not as engaged or don’t find your site as relevant.
- If there have been no changes to your audience but your pages per session have still decreased, then it’s time to evaluate the content on your site.
Average Session Duration
This is the average time a visitor is spending on your site each time they visit.
For B2B sites, you want to aim for an average of 2 minutes or more. This means that visitors are spending enough time on your site to learn about what you do.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter your site and leave without interacting further (visiting another page, clicking on a link, etc.).
Target bounce rates for B2B websites should range between 25% and 55%. Bounce rates between 55% and 70% are higher than average, but not necessarily a problem. Bounce rates above 70% should be investigated further. This could be a result of your site content, or it could be a result of bringing in less qualified traffic.
Bounce rates below 25% aren’t a good thing either, because they are often the result of a duplicate Google Analytics code installation causing bounces to appear artificially low. If your bounce rate is below 25%, check your site to make sure that you only have one Google Analytics code installed. You can do this using Google Tag Assistant.
Percentage of New vs. Returning Visitors
It’s important to notice when you have seen a change in the percentages of new and returning visitors to your site. New visitors act differently from people who have been to your site before. If you have a sudden increase in new visitors, you may see some of your other metrics (like time on site and bounce rate) change as well, so it is good to be aware of this percentage as you are looking at your other metrics.
There is not one percentage that you are aiming for here, as both new and returning visitors are valuable in different ways. You need a combination of both to drive your business forward.
Understanding Traffic by Device
As mobile traffic increases across the board, it is important for you to understand how visitors are viewing your site. Even for B2B companies, mobile traffic is becoming more and more important. 92% of senior executives report having a smartphone for work, and 77% of them report using their smartphone to research a product or service for their business (IDG Global Solutions).
The Mobile Overview report under Audience is a great tool to help you understand what percentage of your visitors are coming from mobile, desktop, and tablet and help you compare behavior across devices.
Just like new users act differently from returning users, visitors on mobile act differently from desktop users. For one thing, mobile users experience a different version of your site. High bounce rates on mobile could be a sign of a poor mobile experience.
It is important, though, to consider where your mobile traffic is coming from. Traffic from social media platforms is much more likely to take place on mobile. Often, social media messages and ads are focused on one landing page or piece of content, which means that this traffic will often have lower time on site, fewer pages per session, and higher bounce rates.
It is especially important to pay attention to this report when you are considering a website redesign. If a significant portion of your site traffic is occurring on mobile devices, you may want to frame your design starting with the mobile site first.
In the next part of this series, we will walk through the Acquisition section of Google Analytics to help you understand which of your marketing activities are driving the most traffic to your site.