8 Google Analytics tips for website owners

Last updated: Friday February 22nd 2013
Reading time: 14 minutes

Google Analytics is a fantastic piece of free on-line software which allows you to do a variety of research into your website visitor data. The information it provides is often overlooked by many users which can be a shame considering with just a few minutes a week reviewing the software  you can potentially triple the traffic to your website. Below I’ve listed some of the main tips to follow which are almost guaranteed to make your site more accessible.

1) Check your web browsers

To access : Audience > Technology > Browser & OS

If you run a website, it’s imperative that you have Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari all installed. Whenever you make a change to your website, you need to check it loads correctly on all of these browsers. Even a website owner with perfect CSS will notice how certain aspects change in different browsers. By looking at your visitors and which browser they use, you can tweak your CSS to favour the main browser choice. You may also discover your site is popular with mobile users. We especially have noticed a massive increase in Android users (either from tablet or phones) and have now started tweaking our layout to accommodate this. If you find your mobile users are at a high percentage, would it be worth investing in a mobile version of your site?

2) Website visitor flow

Audience > Visitors Flow

A tool I use quite often is to see the flow of users around my site. This section can show you which page users land on, which pages they visit and more importantly, where they leave your site. Select the previous week using the date range at the top to view how users navigate your site, week by week. If you spot a page with a high drop off rate (the red arrows) then it may be an idea to take a look at that page. Is there a dead link? Can the user find where to go next? Also, look where they went. Did they flow onto the correct page or did they jump to an irrelevant page? If so, is you navigation clear? A quick 10 minutes at this can quickly reduce your drop off and bounce rate.

3) Website referral traffic sources

Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals

Referrals are the page that the visitor was looking at before they visited your site. This can provide a wealth of knowledge which is often overlooked. It may be that the user was on a forum and someone recommended you or someone has linked to you on their own website. Sometimes it could be the opposite and a user is unhappy with something on your site. This may be something as simple as them asking on a forum is they can load your site correctly or complaining your prices are too high. Take the time to look at these and alter your website/business accordingly.

4) Organic search engine results traffic

Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic

If you are doing your search engine optimisation correctly then search engines should be your main source of traffic to the site. This section allows you to see what keywords your visitors typed in to find your website. Take the time to view ALL of your keywords. Why? Simply put this is what your users were looking for and either wanted to buy or find information on. Do you have what they wanted? If not, can you add it?

If used correctly, you can even let this provide you with content for your site! Say someone searched for a question and found your site, do you know the answer? If so, add an FAQ section to the site and answer it.

5) Site search information

Content > Site Search > Search Terms

This is a must for an e-commerce site and can be quite beneficial for general sites. Most sites can be broken down into 2 categories

  • E-commerce (selling a product online).
  • Information (generally site designed to explain what services your company offers).

No matter which category your site falls into, you will want to know what your visitors require. Knowing the search term they came to your site for is nice but what if they could actually tell you what they want? If you have a search box on your website you can tap into this. Once set up, Google will show you exactly what searches have been made on your site. For an e-commerce website this is pure gold information. Did the visitor search for a product you don’t sell? How many have searched for it? See if anyone else is selling this product and if not, can you? If you have an information website such as a car dealership and a user has searched for “Vauxhall” then would it be worth creating a page about Vauxhall cars and perhaps even including reviews of the most popular models?

6) Site content and pages overview

Content > Site content > All pages

This section allows you to see all of the pages on your site and how many visitors have been to them. As with most sections you can select the date range from the top right. If you have seen a sudden spike in traffic, this is great way to find out which page they are going to.

This section can also be used to find out which of your pages aren’t performing as well. A page which gets little visitors can be a sign of a page which isn’t properly optimised for Google or doesn’t have enough content. Check the bounce rate for the page which should be next to the page URL and if it’s high, try and assess why. The same can also be done with any page on your site – not just the least popular.

7) Goals

Conversions > Goals

This entire section is mainly aimed at e-commerce sites but can also be used by any site productively. The most popular use for goals is to track every time someone purchases something from your site. Once you have set up goals you can also view them in your referrals and your organic search keywords. This can often be great for finding out which keywords convert best. Capitalise on these by tweaking the wording in your site to match.

If you don’t have an e-commerce site, why not set up goals for your contact page? Again this will allow you to work out where your enquiries come from and what they were looking for.

For e-commerce sites, I would also consider setting up Goal flow as this allows you to view each step of your checkout and in turn work out where people abandon their cart. Maybe your site asks for too much information when signing up? Could a guest checkout be introduced? How about having the address automatically filled in or maybe even removing some of the checkout pages all together.

8) Real time statistics

Real time > Overview

Finally if you have any time spare you can actually watch users navigating your site in real time via the real time section. Sometimes watching users browse your site allows you to work out where your site excels or fails. If a user jumps form page to page quickly, it’s an indication that they cant find what they want. If a user takes their time on each page, do they have too much to read? Is the page clear and easy to read?

Summary

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

Many sites which fail never looked at their analytics tracking software. Many people claim they don’t have time but if you’re prepared to take just a few minutes each week, not only will you increase your quality traffic but you can also create free time.

A good example of this is a local photography website I built. They received lots of phone calls asking various questions each day which used up much of their time. After looking at the traffic and seeing what people searched for, they added a FAQ page answering all of these questions. They then added any phone questions they got to this page and almost instantly lowered the amount of questions being asked over the phone. Another side effect of this was that they performed even better in Google due to the quality content that they added and in turn received more quality leads and enquiries.

Do you use analytics on your website and how much time do you spend checking them? Leave some of your own analytics tips below if you feel I have missed anything off!

About the author
Laurence

I am a 27-year-old WordPress web designer and SEO consultant based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. I have designed and maintained sites with over 20,000 pages on large corporate websites, smaller small business sites, and tiny personal websites and blogs. I provide freelance WordPress web design services in my evenings and weekends and also work full time for a local design agency in Banbury. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and on Google+.