Does your website get traffic? You know, people coming to your website, to check out your product/services, read a blog or whatever reason?
How much traffic do you get – 50, 100, 1,000 visits per month?
What type of traffic is it – direct, social, referral, paid, organic?
Where does that traffic come from – specific social media channel, a local networking group, paid ads somewhere, which search engine?
Why are they coming there – to read your blog, to order your widget, to get consulting on widgets, to find your location or phone number?
What marketing efforts that you are doing is working – are your FB ads working, does your paid ads on Google get conversions and revenue, do your magazine inserts call, does all that networking pay off?
Do you even know? Why not?
Do you even have the means in place to find out? If you do, do you know what to look for and where?
If you don’t have the means in place, if you don’t know where to look, if you have no idea what kind of traffic you are getting, where it is coming from or if your marketing efforts are working, you are likely wasting money. Don’t through your hard earned money out the window!
What now? JUST START NOW
Let’s start here – let’s say you have nothing set up – so your first plan is to, SET IT UP! Google Analytics is the easiest to set up but if you have another means to track your website traffic, then by all means, go for it. However, if you haven’t set it up yet, you likely won’t use something that isn’t super easy.
- Figure it out and set it up yourself
- Check out this easy affordable DIY set up – I walk you literally though each step.
- Contact me and I can set it up for you
Google Analytics tracking – now what?
Now that you have traffic being tracked on your website, give it a little time and you’ll be able to see more than just today… but weeks of analytics, months and more. I really like to see how I am progressing quarter over quarter and year over year.. and heck, how I am doing since I started 8 years ago, from the date of this blog. If you were one of the ones that already had Google Analytics (GA) already tracking on your site, you are a step ahead. But now we need to do something about that info… or rather go TO analytics and create (think about) a routine of what you should check out.
When you log into GA, you get a whole bunch of blocks of info and quite honestly, it can be overwhelming, so I can see why so many just bail. But let’s get you to a few places that have a little more info that may seem important and relevant to you. First, before you start clicking around, be sure to set a time frame. I usually look at the last month, last quarter or a full year. But go ahead and change the date range to, say, the last quarter. Understand that SEO efforts, along with anything else, goes up and down and things happen to cause a little more action one month and less than the next so this way we have a bigger spread to look at.
Bonus – while you are there, you will see a check box for Compare to: this is showing you that you can compare it to the previous period, previous year and a custom range. Let’s leave that off right now because it can get even more confusing if you don’t know what you are dealing with right now.
Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
Using the above, you will be able to see ALL types of traffic coming to your site, how many users, how many are new, how many sessions, bounce rate, pages/session, time on site, goals and conversions. (We’ll skip conversions right now because likely you don’t have any set up.)
Note, that at the heading of each of those columns are little ? which if you hover over them explains them a little more. That will help you understand what users are versus new users and what the heck sessions are.
Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals
This view is helpful to dive a little deeper into your referral sources. This will show you Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, your chamber listings, any referrals you get and sadly some spam too. Don’t worry about the spam, they usually come and go… so just keep an eye on them to make sure they do.
If you see Facebook on there, you can potentially see them a few different times – m.facebook.com, l.facebook.com, facebook.com – which gives you a little more info about how they got to your website from Facebook, in this example. They came from Facebook mobile (m), from a link on Facebook (l) or just from Facebook in general. This rings true for Instagram and other social channels as well.
Bonus – you can click on any column (users, new users, bounce rate, etc) and it will sort all of that data set by that one column.
Audience > Geo > Location
Have you ever wanted to know WHERE your visitors live? If you are a local business, this might be super important. If you are global, this might help you to see where your traffic is coming from should you want to do some ads, you want to target where you are already getting some action. Why pay money for the ghost towns, ya know?
For example, in this case, this client is local and I know he paid for a lot of Facebook ads to get likes, regardless of the fact that they are not even in this country, let alone in his surrounding area, much to my suggestion to NOT to that, he still did. So, the reason I am telling you this, is because if you were to look at his traffic, you’d think, wow, that’s great, getting 1966 users and 2866 sessions on his website. But I did mention he was local, so let’s look at his location and see that of that, 1813 users are in the US and 2701 sessions are in the US. While 92 and 94%, respectively isn’t horrible, that’s still 150 ish users and 165 sessions that aren’t even in this country, for a local business.
Then, let’s dive a little deeper – click on the United States. So, for that local business, of the same traffic of that 400 users and 600 sessions are outside of Texas. We had 92% of users in the US and of those in the US, only 77% of users and 80% of sessions are even in Texas!
Since Texas is pretty big, and while many cities could travel to his location, you know it’s likely some smaller numbers. Let’s take a look. He is located in Alvin so while many of these cities could work close to his location or travel that way on a regular basis, what percentage of folks do? Only 4% of those in Texas are in Alvin. Notice that Dallas, Austin, San Antonio are in there – those are 3-5 hours from his location. Galveston, Cypress, Houston, Conroe, Woodlands are easily 45-90 minutes away given the day and traffic. You get the idea but hopefully this has helped you in thinking of how far you should use your marketing dollars to reach those smaller numbers.
I think that in this case, the map at the top of Google Analytics is pretty telling too. Yes, there is a saturation closer, but look at all those users not even close! We are just drilling down to smaller and smaller numbers from getting 1966 users and 2866 sessions over the last quarter on his website to 60 users and 97 sessions in just his city alone. Huge difference and something you need to consider.
Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
I like looking at this data especially if your business has been around for awhile and hopefully you have written many blogs in your business lifetime. This will show you your most visited website pages/blogs for your sessions. This is helpful so you can 1 – make sure you have optimized these pages/blogs as much as possible and 2 – keep putting out content like that because folks are interested in that type of content from you.
This is a plumbing website, as you can see, so the home page is first, nothing unusual there, then contact us, about, a blog (that this person should want to add to or create more like this), then a few of their services pages. You can also see the average time on page, the fun facts and water heater maintenance were the longest and both in top 10 pages for this period… so be sure those blogs are optimized and maybe create more content like that or add more to those 2 blogs.
Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages
Back to acquisition and this will only show if you have your Google Analytics linked to your Google Search Console, which I show you step by step how to do in this guide. Then, it should be important to note, that it will show the sessions for that time period and then more info, like impressions, clicks and average position on Google. Remember that the ? in each column heading will explain what each column is and if you click on that column, it will sort the table by that column.
As you can see, there is a TON of information in Google Analytics and you can go down a rabbit hole at any given time and we covered about 6 of them that you should pay attention to, which should help give you a good start. Should you need help with setting up Google Analytics or linking to Search Console, grab that guide, super affordable and takes the headache out of trying to figure it out yourself, regardless of the type of website you have. I am also available for marketing consultations or can set things up for you if you just don’t want to be bothered by it, but either way, you really should know what your marketing dollars are doing, that your blogging is working for you and that your website is getting quality traffic. Search engine optimization services might help you as well, so contact me and let’s get started.
Wow! There was a lot of super helpful and very valuable information about analyzing website traffic. As my dad says, what isn’t inspected isn’t respected…which means that you’ve got to analyze and assess! And that’s so true with website traffic data. You’ve provided a great overview, which business owners can use to get started. GA is a little overwhelming in certain areas, but it’s an essential tool. And thank you for explaining the “l” in the Facebook url…I have always wondered about it!
Kristen Day says
Thanks so much for that Meghan… I swear when I started writing it, it wasn’t going to be very long, and then, after it’s done.. wow.. that was a doozy… and for good reason. Because like you said, GA IS super overwhelming, which hopefully this will help many small biz owners.. and they will respect their data, as your dad says! lol And you are welcome on the l in FB! lol When I saw it in MY GA years ago, I had to research it to find out what the heck it was. Thanks for jumping in!