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What Can I Track With Google Analytics

For businesses that sell online, your website does one vital thing; it acts as your shop, it allows people to make purchases and chances are, if it doesn’t do well, your business will fail. So naturally, it is vitally important that you constantly market your website and increase your traffic and ultimately your sales.

It can be hard to know what to track though right? Obviously, more sales is a good thing, but how do you know how well your site is really performing? Which stats matter most, and which ones just take up your time without giving actionable data?

What Can I Track With Google Analytics

Bounce Rates

A bounce is any time a user lands on your site and leaves without visiting any further pages. In other words, they see one page and then exit right away. A high bounce rate effectively means that you are leaking visitors.

Every page on your site will have its own bounce rate (assuming it receives incoming traffic), but your main landing pages (the ones which receive the most traffic) are the key ones to look at.

Every time you make changes on any key pages (or to your site’s design) you should pay attention to whether it affects your bounce rate. Anything that lowers your bounce rates is generally a good thing (all other things being equal).

Time On Site

Time on site is a little more in depth than bounce rate. This literally measures how long each user spends on your site before leaving. Needless to say, the longer a user stays, the more likely they are to make a purchase, fill in a contact form, etc…

There are a great many factors that can affect time on site, but in particular you should look out for any changes which result in a lower time on site – as this can be a signal that something has changed for the worse.

Load Times

Last year Google formally acknowledged that load time is a ranking factor, which means that speeding up your website can improve your rankings. But there is a bigger factor than that: If a page loads quicker, users will browse your site more and stay longer.

You can set-up Analytics to track load times, which gives you the ability to see how long your pages take to load for your users. This is a great way to monitor your site’s health, and over time you can try to make changes to improve load times.

Exit Rates

Each page has an exit rate. Some pages will naturally get more exits (such as the thank you page after filling in a contact form). You should look at all of your main pages (any page which gets a lot of page views) and find those with the highest bounce rates.

Tracking your exit rates will give you a short list of the pages where most of your traffic is leaking away. This is very actionable data; any pages which seem to be resulting in a lot of exits can be re-worked, either subtly or completely, to reduce that bounce rate.

Consider improving the navigation on these pages by adding related links, FAQ or some sort of call to action in order to rope in the user and bring them back on the site. You could also check whether the offending page is loading more slowly than the rest of the site.

Traffic Sources

Finally; tracking where your traffic is coming from is a vital step to monitoring the performance of your various marketing channels. You can compare different traffic sources based on how much traffic they provide and the quality of that traffic.

Look at your search engine traffic and also your referral traffic, you might be surprised which websites are sending you the most traffic! Also remember to monitor the bounce rate of each traffic source, as well as time on site etc… Use this data to learn which channels send you the best traffic.

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One Response to What Can I Track With Google Analytics

  1. Cautious Train Media May 21, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Good article – all too often SMEs only take a cursory glance at Google Analytics weekly or monthly, just to see what the numbers are like.

    Which one drilldown do you think would open the eyes of a google analytics surface-user?

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