Running an effective website is hard and any tool that helps make that easier should be pounced on. Step forward Google Analytics, which is just such a tool. While it is free (a big bonus), it is also quite complex. How can you best use it to improve your website?
Without a doubt, Google Analytics has come a long way since its launch in late 2005. The team at Google have added features by the handful and made the product quicker to run and easier to use. However, beware simply using it as “eye candy” and taking a look at a few graphs, checking your bounce rate and then leaving. These things are important, but Analytics is about actionable insights. What are your users doing? Are you meeting your goals? What can you do to get visits, keep visitors and bring in revenue from your site? Google can and will answer these questions for you if you use it properly.
Track page performance
Using “Behaviour > Overview”, find which pages are getting the traffic. Is it what you expected? Is it what you wanted? This is where you can find out if that all important landing page is working out or if some other content is grabbing the limelight. Also, locate the content that is working and which content is being ignored. Work out why that is, then make more of the content that is getting views and generating action.
Understanding what device type is being used to access your site is no longer “techie nerd” stuff. More and more people are using their mobile devices to access sites, and yours will be no exception. If you are seeing higher bounce rates, or other unexpected metrics, for some pages when visited by mobile you will need to ask why. Do be aware that mobile Vs desktop stats will differ so you need to be sure you are comparing like for like. Google offers you all the information you need, on top of many YouTube channels dedicated to this subject, on how to get deeper into the data available from your Analytics.
Changing the way you collect, analyse and process the data in Analytics can show you what is successful and what may need improvement. While it takes some time to learn, it will be well worth your while to get to know this extremely full-featured product better.
Do bear in mind that Google really wants you and your site to succeed. Their business model is based on the fact that the higher the number of great websites there are, the more revenue they generate. This is a big simplification (of course they also use your data for their own purposes) but it does tell you why they offer this product for free. It’s there for you, it’s up to you to make the most of it.