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There are probably thousands of articles on the web talking about Google Analytics, such as how to use the free reporting tool, how to set up Google Analytics for your website, and what Google Analytics reports you can take advantage of. This is all great information, especially for novice website designers. What I think is missing is the most critical piece of information, which is “How do I analyze these Google Analytics reports in order to actually make impactful changes to my website?” In this article we are going to answer that question, as well as, provide you with some examples of taking certain data from Google Analytics, analyzing it, and then using it to make changes to your website and/or website marketing.
Tools like Google Analytics allow you to check your website traffic data as frequently as you’d like. I definitely recommend keeping an eye on your Google Analytics reports daily or weekly. With that said, we all know that checking your reports and actually taking time to analyze them are two different tasks. This is why I recommend that every website owner take a full day each quarter to analyze their reports and implement any needed changes to their website based on what the data is showing.
It’s easy to get lost in Google Analytics. There is SO much data that you can analyze. Not only is there a ton of data, but the ways in which you can slice it up seem almost endless. Every website owner is going to have different reports to focus on, but there are a few main data points that all website owners should be aware of during their quarterly reviews:
Now that we have an understanding of some of the most important reports to analyze for your website, let’s dig into each of them to provide examples on how you can use the data to make real impactful changes to your website and website marketing.
Knowing which keywords to optimize your website with is crucial in attracting the right visitors. Here’s how you can utilize the Keyword reports in Google Analytics:
By analyzing your Traffic Sources – Keywords report and following the steps above you will significantly increase your website traffic for those specific keywords.
Once you have completed this first main Keyword optimization during your Quarterly review, go BACK through your Keyword report and sort the results by Average Time on Site. Find five keywords that might not be driving a lot of traffic to your website right now, but the traffic that is coming to your site from those keywords tends to spend a lot of time on your site. These are your “growth keywords”. Repeat the steps above using these keywords to see if with a little more use throughout your website they can produce more traffic.
Knowing which websites (or social media channels) around the web that are referring the most traffic to your website is critical. As a website owner you only have so much time in the day to market your site. It’s best to use that time wisely. Follow these steps in order to analyze your traffic sources and make impactful changes to your website marketing:
Using the Referral Sources report in Google Analytics will help you become more efficient with your marketing time and more effective at driving traffic to your website.
Analyzing your Visitor Profile through the Visitors Overview report in Google Analytics will let you know how much of your traffic is composed of ‘New Visitors’ and how much of your traffic is composed of ‘Repeat Visitors’. You want to encourage new visitors to become return visitors, as well as, continue to attract even more new visitors. Here are a few ways that you can take your data from the Visitors Overview report and actually use it to improve your website:
Understanding what content is resonating with your visitors will help you come up with new content topics for the next quarter.
Producing more of the content that your visitors are finding valuable will keep them coming back, get them to share your website with their friends, and attract new visitors.
Are the weekends a popular time for your website or do most people visit your website during the week? Knowing what days are high traffic days for your website and what days are low traffic days for your website allows you to be much more strategic in regards to publishing new updates to your website. By analyzing the Visits report in Google Analytics you can see which days seem to generate the most traffic. Make a list of your high traffic days and then start taking advantage of those high traffic days in the following ways:
Knowing when, and when not to, publish new information to your website can drastically alter the number of views your new updates receive. Be smart about when you publish new content, news, events, etc. Use the Visits report in Google Analytics as your guide.
Google Analytics is great. The website data provided by Google Analytics can help website owners learn a ton about their website. With that said, unless website owners take time to review and analyze their reports on a regular basis, and then take time to use that data to make changes to their website, they are missing out on the biggest advantage that Google Analytics provides. Google Analytics provides you with a blueprint for giving your visitors what they want, when they want it. Be sure to take advantage of that.
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Ryan Taft is a twenty-something entrepreneur with a passion for helping small businesses use online marketing tools to reach more customers and prospects, build relationships with those folks, and ultimately grow sales.