How to Analyse Your Web Performance

How to understand the key website measurements made by Google Analytics

So you’ve got Google Analytics installed and recording data about your site users … but how do you use the information? Seeing all the data for the first time can be confusing, especially if you don’t know where to start. So we’ll take it from the top. This guide covers the basic statistics that you can monitor and compare.

After you’ve logged in you should go to Standard Reporting (top right tab) to find the following measurements.

 

Visits

This is the number of visits to your site over a given time period. A single visitor may create multiple visits in one day, for example if they leave your site and come back again later in the day. Visits end when a user leaves your site, or if they have been inactive for 30 minutes or it hits midnight.

 

Unique Visitors

This is the number of unduplicated visitors (those that are counted only once) to your website over the course over a given time period. For example, a single user may visit your site 5 times in one day, but they are only counted as 1 unique visitor if they are visiting using the same device.

 

Average Visit Duration

This is the average time duration of a user’s session. It’s a great starting point to understanding how good your content is. The longer your users spend on the website means that there is something there that is keeping their interest. To make sure they’re not getting lost looking for content to read, keep your website layout simple and clear.

 

Page Views and Pages per Visit

Google Analytics shows you the total number of pages viewed in a given time frame and also shows you the average number of pages per visit (Pages / Visit). Your average page views per visit is the average amount of pages a user views in one visit, and repeated page views are counted. If you have a website dedicated to information, more page views are better. And if you are trying to push enquiries or sales, you would probably expect less page views and more action.

Your site objective will have an influence on how you interpret your average page views, but in a general sense, you’ll want more page views. It shows that people are looking at more pages on your site and finding it interesting!

 

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of bounced visits to your site. So what qualifies as a bounce?

  • A user clicks on a link to your site, reads the information on the page, and closes the browser immediately without doing anything else
  • A user comes to your home page, looks around for a minute or two, and immediately leaves.
  • A user comes directly to a reference page on your site from a web search, leaves the page available in the browser while completing other tasks in other browser windows and the session times out after 30 minutes.

A page with a higher bounce rate than others should be examined. There may be a problem with the content or layout that automatically puts web users off. If you’re being found in a search for an unrelated keyword, this may make users hit the back button quickly. Find what you think the problem is and change it to make the bounce rate decrease.

 

Traffic Sources

Traffic sources explain to you how people are finding your website. By going to Traffic Sources>Overview, a pie chart splits the main ways web traffic finds its way to you. A typical pie chart will show a combination of the following:

Search Traffic
Users that have found you from a search engine such as Google or Bing.

Referral traffic
Users have found you by clicking on a link on another website that links to you.

Direct traffic
Users know your website address and have typed your URL into the browser bar or have used a bookmark/favourite to access your site.

Campaigns
this will only come up if you have used Google Analytics tracking to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

This information can be used to determine how effective your current strategies are in getting new viewers.

 

Finding your site’s top referring keywords

Understanding which keywords drive visitors to your site and which of those keywords generate the most revenue is one of the most valuable insights you can gain from Google Analytics. Whether you’re optimizing your site around keywords or bidding on them for paid-search ads, knowing which ones to focus on makes all the difference.

To check which keywords are driving traffic to your site go to Traffic Sources > Search and then

Choose either Organic or Paid. Organic shows you a list of keywords that is driving natural search traffic and Paid shows you the keywords delivering visits to your site if you are running a Google Adwords campaign.

If you’re getting a high bounce rate, for example, examining your keywords will be one of the places to start. Keyword investigation helps you to assess:

  • If the keywords you are ranking for are relevant
  • Whether you are making the most of the opportunities the keywords that you are ranking for present. For example, you may want to expand your content offering on a related topic to get even more traffic
  • If there are keywords you would expect to be driving traffic to your site and you can’t see them listed. This could indicate that you need more content on your site on that particular topic or that other websites have more content on that topic than you and therefore rank higher and win the clicks.

Getting to know where your customers come from and how they came to your website are key to improving your online business. Here we have provided you with the basics to get you started. As your website grows, you may find you’d like to understand more of the metrics on offer within Google Analytics.

Google Analytics have a very good help section and blog here on their website.

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