You may have noticed that your monthly reports from Google Analytics have changed in appearance. Google has changed the format of their analytics and tracking tools online, which is reflected in the auto generated reports. We’ve worked to make sure your reports still have your most pertinent information contained in your emailed dashboard. We are always here to answer your Google Analytics questions, but here are some answers to your most popular questions about Google Analytics.
The left column under “My Dashboard” shows some of the main metrics of site performance, including Visitors, Unique Visitors, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate, Visits by Social Network.
The line graph shows the amount of visits per day throughout the month. You may see peaks and valleys week to week. You may be able to track these peaks back to online or offline advertising. For most sites, Monday through Friday will have the largest amount visitors, with less people coming to the site on the weekends.
Visitors are the amount of people that have come to your site during the time period of the report. Unique visitors are the people that have come to your site for the very first time. Google uses a first party cookie to track whether people have visited your site before. Google Analytics’ cookies expire after 30 minutes. Pages per visit takes the amount of pageviews divided by the amount of visitors to give you an idea of how deep visitors are getting into your site during their visit. Many sites average 2-3 pages per visit.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your site from the same page on which they’ve entered, essentially “bouncing” from your site. A high bounce rate shows us that visitors are not finding what they expect on your site or they may be frustrated and leaving without looking further. A good benchmark is a 30-60% bounce rate, depending on your industry. Keep in mind, some users may be logging on to your site to find contact information or read your latest blog entry. While they are bouncing from the site, it’s not always a bad sign nor is it preventable. If your bounce rate is of concern, it is a good idea to review your site’s content section within Analytics to identify the pages that have a higher than preferred bounce rate. By reviewing the site page by page, you can identify problem areas and address them by adjusting the navigation or adding a call to action to the page. It is also a good idea to test different versions of the page to see how they perform in comparison.
The middle column shows pageviews and average visit duration by visitor type. The two visitor types are new visitor and returning visitor. This shows how many pageviews each type of visitor has completed and what their average visit duration has been. This helps us to judge how new visitors are using the site in comparison to returning visitors. In most cases, returning visitors will view less pages and spend less time on the site. A good benchmark for average visit duration is about 2 minutes.
The pie chart below this information shows the unique visitors by visitor type. It breaks down the amount of unique visitors out of your new visitors and the amount of unique visitors out of your returning visitors. Any new hits from the same IP address will count as a new visit, but not a unique visit. Keep in mind, the unique visits amount can be deceiving because each time someone visits from a different location (work computer, iPad iPhone, home computer) this will count as a unique visit. A unique visitor means a single IP address that visits a website any number of times.
Below that shows the visits and average visit duration by city. This chart shows you each city broken down by visits and the average visit duration from each of those cities. This will show you if the areas you are targeting geographically are performing very well on your site. For example, if you’ve spent a large amount of money advertising in a certain city without any return, or many visits from that city, it may be a good idea to refocus your advertising efforts.
In the upper right there is another pie graph broken down by traffic type. The three types of traffic are organic, referral and direct. Organic traffic is free traffic from search engines. These search results were “organically” created, rather than generated by a pay per click campaign. Referral traffic is the traffic that has been referred to your site, generally by a link on another site. This is one of many reasons that link building is great for your site. You may notice referrals from “google.com” and wonder why this isn’t considered part of search engine traffic. If someone is using a Google tool (like email or an RSS feed) that has a link to your site, it would be recorded in this fashion. Direct traffic is traffic that has come directly to the site, many times from an offline advertising source. If your direct traffic is lower than you would prefer, it is a good idea to review where your website URL is appearing offline, i.e. Is it included on your business cards or invoices? If you do any printed advertising, is the URL in a prominent area? Do you have your website posted in your physical location? Many people ask what amount of traffic from each types is ideal, but it can vary based on your own goals. However, I think about 60% from search engines, 30% from referral, and 10% from direct traffic is a good amount.
In the lower right of your emailed report, you will see visits and page views by keyword. Keywords are what people are using to search online. A keyword is generally more than just one word. Some people call them “key phrases” or “long tail keywords” to show they are longer search queries. Many searchers use keywords with 3-5 words in them. Google allows users keep their searches from being tracked and this will show up as (not provided) in your keyword report. Any time your Google Analytics keyword report shows traffic from “(not set)”, these are keywords hits coming from a pay per click campaign. There are ways to update your report so that it will record the exact keywords from your PPC campaign as well. The middle column of this report shows you how many visits you received from each keyword and the right column shows you how many page views each keyword produced. This can give us a good idea of what keywords are leading quality traffic to the site.
In the bottom right, you will see a “Visits and Pageviews by Mobile” chart. This shows if visits came from a mobile device, how many visits from mobile, and how many pageviews mobile or non-mobile visits generated.
This is just a small preview of the wealth of website data and measurement metrics available through Google Analytics. If you have other tracking or Google Analytics questions, don’t be afraid to ask, we are here to help!