Google Analytics: Why it’s the Best and What You Should Do with It! – Part 1

orange county seo and analyticsSmall business owners, whether in Orange County, or pretty much anywhere, need Google Analytics now more than ever before.

Like any powerful tool, it’s as complicated as it needs to be, but don’t let that stop you from jumping in. The information you’ll start gathering in Google Analytics is invaluable – even if you don’t understand it all at first. There’s a lot to understand, but there are also lots of whole communities of people happy to help you out.

The standard reports that come with any Google Analytics account are a good place to start even if you aren’t exactly sure what to do with all of that hard, cold data. Eventually you’ll use it to fashion, record and later modify your Internet presence. Even if yours is already a successful and totally “bricks-and-mortar” business, everything you do online, is going to be icing on the cake.  Just have your account set up and verified and you can log in and start learning.

What Questions Am I Answering?

Google Analytics, perhaps any analytics, sounds like a pile of statistics. For lots of hands-on business owners, it can be like a trip back to business school. But it wants to be user-friendly, even if it isn’t always.

For the truly Analytics obsessive, the pleasure of Analytics comes from knowing what questions you can answer and from seeing them getting answered – almost in real time. Any analytics reports you’re looking at are going to be delayed by at most a few hours.  Though it’s easy to look at monthly summaries, you don’t need to wait for the end of each month. It’s always up-to-date.

The most important questions we want to start looking at are these:

  1. “How are people finding my site?”
  2. “How long are they staying?”
  3. “Which pages are attracting the most visitors?”
  4. And “What else can I learn about my audience?”

Now, those are the fairly easy questions to start getting answered, but they represent really just the bare minimum of what you can start to learn.

Why are Analytics so Important?

Who is visiting? For how long? And what are they doing on my site.

Running a simple five page website in the hopes that people will find it, read it and come in to your shop is just not how it works.

Business owners often want to know why and they start to look at how that website might work a bit better. Google Analytics remains the single greatest tool to getting you going in the right direction.

If you’re running a bricks and mortar business, you need to know where your visitors are coming from. Are they mostly from Ohio? If that’s the case, you need to modify your online content with your Southern California location. How many of them are coming to you from a mobile device or tablet? Is your website easily navigable for those mobile visitors? All these questions are vital to the success of your website – and ultimately, its effect on your bottom-line.

Nine times out of ten, people approach a company like ours and want – simply – more traffic.

But the way that SEO has evolved, the only way to get more traffic is to get more out of the traffic you already have. That means doing more with it, and satisfying more of the searches that people are ultimately making. On today’s internet, it’s a pretty severe misunderstanding to think that you need one million hits to break even with your 1% conversions.

On the other hand, Google Analytics is how Google partners with you to better understand why people visit your site and what they’re seeking. Satisfy them, and Google will be satisfied too. And then they’ll start sending more traffic.

Most newbies are going to spend the bulk of their time on reports like All Traffic, and All Referrals. Both are under the “Acquisition” heading. They’re easy to understand and they give you a good idea how people are finding you.

Pageviews & Bounce Rate

Lastly for this brief introduction, we want to at least glance at your Bounce Rate and the Pageviews your site is receiving. Both of these metrics are listed under Behavior/Site Content/All Pages. But we want to mention all of this here under the heading of “Doing more with the traffic that you’re already getting.” Google takes very seriously the number of the number of pages any given visitor will read. If they just land on the first page and then leave, that’s a Bounce.

In short, you want the Pageviews to go up and the Bounce Rate to go down.

Pageviews are a count of how many times each page was loaded. So you can see the popularity of every page on your site and hopefully build more similar and equally attractive pages. If a page’s Bounce Rate is too high, you need to change it. It simply means that people are landing on it, but without finding what they’re after, they’re leaving. Often this indicates that you should add simpler, clearer language, or a more concise and obvious call to action (or two). And Google will reward you – with more traffic!

Once you master these beginner’s steps, we can almost guarantee you’ll actually want to dig in a little further. We’ll cover that in part two of this brief series.

Image via: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Google_Analytics_Sample_Dashboard.jpg

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