Chris Foti is a developer and agency owner specializing in delivering the highest quality websites and digital marketing strategies.More Articles by Chris Foti
Don't get lost in the sea of data - read our comprehensive blog post on the top 10 Google Analytics reports for small businesses, and harness the power of data to fuel your growth, refine your marketing strategies, and stay ahead of the competition.
Your website is one of the most valuable sources of marketing, but many small businesses under-utilize it as a tool and simply “set and forget” – after it’s built, it’s got your phone number and address on it, so that’s all you need, right?
Wrong. More than one-third of internet users in the US said they first find the small businesses that they use by researching online. And nearly 40% said that they will visit a store’s website first before they go to the actual bricks-and-mortar shop. If your website isn’t up to scratch, you could be losing customers before they even contact you or visit a storefront.
When you set up your website, it’s vital that you install analytics tracking to be able to measure and optimize its performance. Google Analytics is free, easy to set up, and widely used, which makes it ideal for small business. Here, we look at the ten reports that are most important to small business, and that can really give you valuable insight into how your site performing.
1. Acquisition Overview Google Analytics Report
This report tells you how people found your website – whether they came via organic search (using a search engine like Google), referral (they clicked a link from another website), direct (essentially, a pool of “unknowns” – it can be when a customer inputs your URL into the address bar, or when a link isn’t properly tagged, or someone goes from a private, secured website to an unsecured site), social (from Facebook or Twitter, for example), or paid search (which is advertising, like using Google’s Search Network).
By understanding how customers found your site, you can look at where you need to focus your attention. If a lot of people come to your site from Facebook, you can look at ramping up your activity there, and perhaps doing some Facebook advertising – your efforts on Facebook are obviously working. By contrast, if you notice that you’re getting very little traffic from organic sources, like Google, you might need to look at some search engine optimization (SEO) – essentially, making your website as attractive as possible to Google.
2. Mobile Overview Google Analytics Report
One of the most definite insights into internet use over the last decade is the rise of mobile devices to access the internet. In 2017, 73% of the entire population accessed the internet through their mobile phone, and roughly 60% of all traffic to the top 10,000 sites is mobile traffic. By 2021, mobile internet usage will reach penetration of 86.5% in the US.
What this means is that if your site isn’t mobile-ready, your customers will have a hard time visiting you online. Using Google Analytics, you can find out how many people visit you on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. You can also see (as you can in almost every GA report) how long those people stayed online; whether they left after only visiting one page; and what percentage of people “converted” (hit one of your predefined goals). If you’ve had your site set up for a while, it’s likely that you’ll see similar data to the chart below – a definite growth in mobile usage, and a decline in people accessing your site by desktop.
3. Demographics Overview Google Analytics Report
The introduction of demographics reports has been cause for huge excitement in the analytics community. Through this, you can see the gender split and age ranges of customers on your site (usually a subset of the data). Google gathers this data through the third-party DoubleClick cookie, and looks at things like Google Account details, social media profiles, and browsing activity to determine demographic information.
You do have to enable the collection of the demographic data within your Google Analytics account, but once you do, it can be invaluable in informing your marketing activities, and giving you the scoop on exactly who your online customer is – and this may differ from your instore or face-to-face customer. By learning more about the people who visit your site, you can adjust it to better suit them.
4. Search Console Queries in Google Analytics
One of the most commonly-asked questions about analytics is “what do people search for to get to my site?” Unfortunately for many site owners, about six years ago, Google encrypted the search data so that search terms are replaced with “(not provided)”. They did this to protect the privacy of a site’s users, but it also encourages people to sign up for Google’s AdWords product – search terms are easy to find in Google AdWords.
Fortunately, there are some workarounds. Within Google Analytics’ admin section, you can link another of their products, called Search Console (it used to be known as Webmaster Tools), to your account, and it will bring in search information for your domain. This includes search queries, which shows the number of times Google served up your site as an option to a particular search term, as well as your site’s average position for that term, your click-through rate, and the number of clicks to your site.
5. Content Drilldown Google Analytics Report
This report really starts to get into what customers are actually doing on your site – you can see your most popular pages (or products), how long people are staying on each page, whether it’s the last page they visited on your site, and how many unique pageviews of each page occurred. And within this particular report, it also shows you the information from a “category” level – so if you have various sections on your site, you can see which of those are resonating with your customers.
The report presents as a table, and where the Page Path shows a folder, it means that there’s more information within (i.e. that row is a category). For each category, you can also see important data such as unique views, time on page, exit, and bounce rate. Using this data, you can start to get a gauge on how customers are interacting with each page – do they spend an unusually long amount of time on a page? Perhaps it’s hard to read or navigate. Too short an amount of time to take it all in? Perhaps the page is throwing an error, or can’t be seen on mobile. Do a high number of people leave your site from one particular page? Maybe they’re getting kicked off, or the content is all wrong.
6. Top Events Google Analytics Report
One of the limitations of Google Analytics is that it doesn’t automatically set up tracking of important data like PDF downloads, newsletter sign-ups, or banner clicks. This needs to be set up separately from the basic GA install, and can either be added to each link or click, or (more easily) via Google Tag Manager. Once it’s done, however, you can access the Event reports and get information on how many downloads of product manuals you got in a particular week; how many people clicked the first banner on your home page versus the second banner; or how many people clicked on your referral links.
The Top Events report divides the events into Category, Action, and Label, which are all determined during set up. You might have a category called PDF, one called Videos, and one called Links. The Action may be Download, or Play (Pause/Stop, etc); or Click. The Label is generally the File Name or some variation that makes the event easily identifiable. Most important is the total events, but unique events also tells you how many unique events occurred within each session.
7. Goal Overview Google Analytics Report
One of the most important (and often overlooked) aspect of Google Analytics is goal set up. Even if you don’t have ecommerce facilities on your site (in fact, especially if you don’t have ecommerce), you will still have specific actions that you want your users to take when they visit, like creating an account, making an enquiry, registering for a free trial, or even something based off an event, like downloading a particular paper. You can (and should) still set up goals for purchases as well.
Adding a goal value to each of your goals will also “unlock” some great insights in other reports too, like giving each of your pages a value, showing how important (in a monetary sense) they are to your business. It can also show which of the acquisition channels (e.g. organic traffic, social networks) are having the greatest effect on your goal. For each goal, you can also set up a funnel, with its various required steps, to give you insight into where users are dropping off. Again, this isn’t just for ecommerce conversions – it can be for sign ups (is the process too complicated?), quizzes, free ebooks – anything where there are a number of pages as steps to follow.
8. Day of Week / Time of Day Google Analytics Report
This is a custom report, but you can easily download a template so that the hard work is already done for you.
With this report, you can get an understanding of the most important days and time of day for your online customers. Knowing when they visit the site can help you with advertising (target your advertising to the times when people are already logging on to your site), pop-up sales, and timing of maintenance, as well as the effect of other marketing, like any TV or radio advertising, email newsletters, or referral site campaigns.
|Day of Week||Sessions||Pageviews||Pages / Session||Bounce Rate||% New Sessions|
9. All Campaigns Google Analytics Report
When customers click on a link to come to your website, you should add parameters on to it that tell Google Analytics what the link is about. For example, if you set up Facebook advertising, it will ask you at some point to include your destination URL – the page link that customers will end up on. Best practice for doing this specifies adding some information to the end of that URL that passes information along to your website that includes the source (Facebook), the medium (ads), and the campaign name (Spring_sale). Some services, like MailChimp, do this for you automatically.
When people have come to your site using a properly tagged link, that information will appear in the Campaign report. Within this, you can see how effective each campaign has been to your website performance. By default, the report shows Campaign Name first (useful if you’re running the same campaign across different mediums – like a Christmas sale across Facebook, a newsletter, and a banner ad on another site), but you can also select it to show Source or Medium. The report also shows how many users and sessions happened on site due to the campaign; the pages and time on site for those sessions; and if any conversions occurred as a result of the campaign.
10. Behavior Flow Google Analytics Report
The Behavior Flow chart shows how customers move through your site, which works as a fantastic snapshot of the user journey. Beginning with the landing page (the first page a customer visits on your site), you follow the most popular user paths, with less popular journeys available as an minimized group of pages. This chart also shows the number of sessions that ended on each page as a percentage, to give an “at a glance” view on where you’re losing your customers.
These ten reports give you a fantastic overview into the performance of your site, and checking in with them on a regular basis means you will begin to spot areas that could be improved or modified in order to achieve your business goals. Within small business, every tool that can be leveraged to give you the jump on your competitor needs to be used, and knowing just how your site is working for you is paramount in today’s online world.
Is Google Analytics Helping Your Business?
If you aren’t currently using Google Analytics to optimize your marketing efforts, your missing out on free analytic data that is extremely valuable to your business. You can start tracking things like where your traffic is coming from, which marketing efforts are working, what pages were viewed, when your website is busiest, and more. Get in touch for a free consultation!
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