Your website is up and running, and you have wisely decided to install Google Analytics on your site. However, once you visit the dashboard, you feel a ping of anxiety as there are so many stats at your fingertips. Google Analytics gives you access to everything you would ever want to know about your website’s functionality and how others are interacting with it. Yet, you wonder if you need to monitor everything as time will not allow it. While it is excellent that Google Analytics provides you with so much information if you are new to this and in a time crunch, some stats are better to start with than others. Here are five essential pieces of data you should begin to monitor to make sure your website is optimized to attract visitors.

Average Session Duration

This stat tells you how long someone has been on your website. This information is excellent for seeing how invested visitors are in what your page has to offer. If people are only spending seconds on your page, they could be encountering a technical problem. Likewise, if there is a small number of visitors spending a long time on your page, it could mean there is too much information.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions web users have had. Basically, this stat reveals how many visitors left the landing page without visiting any other page on the website. Again, this could be due to a technical issue where visitors are not able to view another page, or it could be that they could not easily find what they were looking for on your site. These days, attention spans are short, so you only have a few seconds to engage someone in what you are offering.

Page Views

This stat tells you how many people have viewed your page. Obviously, you want this number to be very high. This primary stat can be compared to the bounce rate to see if the high view numbers are falling off after they view a specific page. This data can also help you set benchmarks for how you want this statistic to improve in the future.

Traffic Sources

Where are your page views coming from? The traffic sources stat will tell you how visitors are getting to your site. This piece of data is invaluable in that you can match this up with your total page views information to see which source is bringing you the most traffic. Direct visitors are those who entered your URL to access your site, search visitors found the website on a search engine, and referral visitors gained access to the site through a link on another page.

New vs. Returning Visitors

Google Analytics also can tell you the rate of new visitors compared to those returning. The tool keeps data of visitors up to two years, so a returning visitor is anyone who has visited your site more than once within two years. This information sheds some light on how compelling your content is. If you have a lot of new visitors without as many returning, this could be an indication that your page is not engaging enough to cause new visitors to return. If the opposite is true, you might not be getting the word out enough to attract new visitors to your site.

Final Thoughts

While these are great basic stats to start off with to get your footing with Google Analytics, as you move further into monitoring metrics, it makes sense also to start tracking conversion based stats such as cost per conversion, return and new visitor conversions, and interactions per visit. If you are spending money on advertising, these new stats will show how much value your efforts are bringing to encourage visitors to spend time on your site and convert. Over time, reading and understanding these metrics will become second nature. The five mentioned above are a favorable starting point to begin to know how your website is performing as a marketing tool.

Sources:

10 of the Most Important Google Analytics Metrics to Track, dynomapper.com/blog/19-ux/209-10-of-the-most-important-google-analytics-metrics-to-track

Bounce rate, support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009409?hl=en

Google Analytics Made Easy: New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors, www.dbswebsite.com/blog/2016/10/04/google-analytics-made-easy-new-visitors-vs-returning-visitors/

 

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