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Do you like spying on people? We do! Wait, that sounds bad. Well, we do the “good” kind of spying, if you think looking at how people search really counts as spying. Understand what I’m getting at? Google Analytics allows you to do the best kind of “stalking” possible—seeing not only how people are finding your website but also which specific pages convert the best, how long people stay on individual pages, and a bunch of other cool stuff.
So…why is Google Analytics important for your business? If you’re a small business owner, you may even be able to answer this, in part, yourself! You don’t have a lot of free time but want to get new business and grow your company, right?
Google Analytics helps you do just that! If you don’t track your website, how will you ever make progress? You need to have a starting point. That said, what are important Google Analytics metrics?
Google Analytics Knows No Bounds (for the most part)
The title of this post was originally going to be, “3 Great Google Analytics Metrics,” but we changed it because, honestly? Three is a little insulting. There are many important metrics (not to mention tons of reasons why Google Analytics rules). You can get a really comprehensive look at your website. You can see a lot of things in Google Analytics:
- How many unique (and returning) visitors come to your site (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly)
- The locations of your visitors (great for determining lead potential—local searches are the ones most likely to convert)
- The pages that convert the best
- The percentage of visitors that view one page and then leave your site (bounce rate)
- The percentage of visitors who click away to a different site from a specific page on your site, possibly after having visited other pages on your site (exit rate)
- The average amount of time visitors are spending on your site
- The number of unique and returning visits a specific page receives
- Non-branded vs. branded searches
- Referrals (visitors that come to your site from another site, not a search engine)
- Number of goals completed (in a day, week, month, or year—goals can include submitting contact information, signing up for a newsletter, etc.)
- Goal paths of your visitors (which pages someone visited before completing a goal)
This is just the tip of the iceberg—you can do so many more things. What you don’t want to do is go into Google Analytics every once and a while just to view the keywords people are using to find your site. There is way more to Analytics than that (come on…dig a little deeper…don’t hurt its feelings!). I know, I know, as a small business owner, you already have too many hats to wear!
For the time-starved small business owner, I’ve got two suggestions:
- 1. Hire a company like Blue Corona to help! Think of us like you would an accountant for your website and marketing – a good accountant can use data to measurably improve your business. Using website data, me and my team can do the same!
- 2. Build a custom report in Google Analytics that separates the wheat from the chaff. If you don’t know how to do this or can’t decide what’s really important, contact us and we’ll build the report for you (for a small fee, of course!).
However, the greatest Analytics value is not just the data itself, but creating actionable takeaways from the data (one of Blue Corona’s specialties). Your website is your company’s single most valuable marketing asset (if it’s not, it should be!). Tools like Google Analytics and Blue Corona Call Tracking are the diagnostic tools you use to both assess your site’s health and performance as well as fine tune it for maximize performance. The data from various analytics tools isn’t just valuable for improving your website either. If you have PPC campaigns, you absolutely should use Analytics to improve PPC performance!
Important Google Analytics Metrics
As I mentioned previously, don’t just focus on the keywords. While the keywords are important, there are better metrics to focus on, ones that can give you great insight.
Important Google Analytics metrics to look at (in no particular order) include:
Unique Visitors: Think of your website as if it were a sales funnel. At the highest level, you want to test and invest in marketing strategies that drive more visitors to your website. Doing this is like filling your sales funnel with prospects. When reviewing Google Analytics reports, a lot of business owners confuse visits with visitors. A “visit” is an interaction between a web browser (like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and your site. A visitor is a person. One visitor can make up multiple visits to your site.
If you own an emergency plumbing business, it’s probably reasonable to expect someone to call you after a single visit to your website. When this happens, it is reported as one visitor and one visit. However, if you’re a high-end kitchen designer, someone might need to visit your website 10 times before they’re ready to set up a meeting. This would be reported as one visitor, but 10 visits.
Bounce Rate: When someone visits your website, views one page, and leaves, that reports as a 100% bounce. A high bounce rate indicates that either your web page did not include the information the visitor was seeking or that you’re ranking for a keyword unrelated to your business. Look at how many people visited your site and immediately left. Naturally, you want a lower bounce rate.
Low bounce rates are worth investigating. While it’s not always true, a high bounce rate indicates a site that isn’t converting well. If that’s the case, it’s time to do some more analyzing and find out why—is it the type or amount of content? Bad site structure? Absence of contact forms?
Landing Pages: The pages of your site users found in search engines and clicked on are the top landing pages in Analytics. If the top landing pages are also the top exit pages, or have a high bounce rate, well, it’s telling you something, isn’t it? It’s also interesting to see, month by month, which types of pages are the top landing pages—blog posts (you ARE blogging, right?), FAQ pages, services pages, news posts, etc. If you’re investing in SEO, you want to see the number of landing pages going up, up, up – like this:
Average Time on Site: For most of the companies we work with, the goal of their website is to generate more leads; however, visitors that become leads typically spend more time on your site and view more pages than those that don’t. Think of time on site as a precursor to a lead. The more visitors you can get hanging around your site for longer and longer periods of time, the better.
Of course, different types of sites function differently. A directory site, for instance, shouldn’t have a higher average visit duration than an informational site. You have to think about your business and your website and define a standard. For example, 10 seconds might be too low, but on the flip side, if the visit duration is too high, it could mean visitors are having a hard time finding what they’re looking for. This can be a result of a site that isn’t user-friendly, has too much content or content that is confusing, has too many pages on the site and pages that are buried, etc. If you’re concerned about this metric, you can also look at individual pages and see the average amount of time users spend on those pages.
Traffic Sources: Although the actual search terms are important, equally as important are the sources of the traffic (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, press releases, directories, outside referrals, organic search from Google, Bing, or Yahoo, etc.). You can even break it down and see all the referrals. Traffic sources are important because, as you probably know, social media has become an integral part of SEO. The traffic sources metric can help you find out which social media sites are bringing in the most visitors, which can impact your future SEO work and other methods for growing your company!
Get Started with Google Analytics NOW
For all the positives of Google Analytics, there is one major drawback. Google Analytics functions like a filter overlayed onto your site. It can’t go backward and show you visitor information from before it was installed (or configured correctly). If you don’t have Google Analytics on your site or you don’t have it setup properly, you want to install Google Analytics immediately! Analytics truly matters if you want to bring in more website visits and get more leads. Blue Corona offers website analytics and tracking as one of our core services. Already have Analytics installed on your website? Our experts can still help. Even if you already have Analytics installed, are you looking at the data the right way?
Do you know stats like:
- Which pages convert the most visitors into leads and sales?
- Your true visit-to-inquiry conversion rate? (don’t forget about the phone calls you receive from the web!)
If you’re just looking at organic keywords or how much traffic you get every month, you aren’t taking full advantage of Google Analytics! Let us help you get analytics setup correctly, customize it for your business, track phone calls in Google Analytics, and more. Remember—better information equals more traffic, leads, and sales. Jackpot.
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
View more blogs by Alanna Hernandez