Anyone who’s ever stepped inside Google Analytics knows there’s a lot there. A LOT. While it’s undoubtedly a great resource for any business or nonprofit operating a website, the sheer volume of data—and the many different ways to look at the data—can be overwhelming.
In today’s post, we aim to make the great wide world of website analytics a little less imposing by sharing some key data points you should be looking at. We’ll also provide some quick insight into what you can do with that data.
Are You Getting Your Google Analytics?
For those who don’t know, Google Analytics is the top website statistics tracking service. This tool is free and it provides a ton of statistics about traffic, sources, conversions and more related to your website. Here’s more info from Google on how to start using Analytics.
Five Website Analytics You Should Be Tracking Regularly
With all the data available, how can you whittle it down to the numbers that are most meaningful and useful to your organization? Here are the top website analytics you should be tracking:
1. Page views
Where are visitors going? What are they most interested in? This is the most important thing you need to know about your website. From an organizational perspective, this data can tell you what aspect of your business people are gravitating toward. You can use that insight to influence the focus of your marketing—maybe even your branding.
For companies publishing regular on-site content, knowing which posts are drawing the most views is also incredibly valuable. You can use data from your blog to figure out what topics people are most interested in and fuel future blog post creation.
2. Search engine keywords
This data was a lot more telling when Google was still making organic search results public (you can still get keyword data if you use Google AdWords). Nonetheless, knowing the keywords people are typing in on search engines to get to your site is hugely valuable.
You can use this information to tweak your site for SEO optimization and/or create blog content to capitalize on your keyword success.
3. Referrers (including social sites)
Beyond search engines and direct URL entries, how are your visitors finding you? Is it through social media, link shares, or other thought leaders linking to your posts and pages? Seeing your key sources of traffic can help you take action to get more referrals in the future.
For example, if you see a growing number of visitors are coming from Twitter, it may be time to crank up your Twitter strategy. Or if a particular blogger keeps sending traffic your way, maybe it’s time to reach out and develop a content-sharing partnership.
4. Month-over-month traffic
Are you steadily increasing the number of visits to your site? Weekly and daily traffic can dip and spike for a number of different reasons, but monthly traffic is a more stable metric.
You can use month-over-month traffic data to track growth (or decline). It can also help raise a red flag to any extreme fluctuations. See a strong monthly increase or decrease in traffic and you’ll want to find out why.
5. New vs. returning visitors
Are people just stopping in or are they coming back time and time again? These numbers are notable because the aim is to increase the returns as much as possible. Getting people in the door is good, but bringing them back again is better.
Returning visitors have an increased level of engagement and brand awareness. They are interested in something you have to offer—whether that’s published content or a product or service. This is an often-overlooked but often very telling analytic.
Three Other Analytics You May Want to Keep An Eye On…
6. Mobile traffic
How can mobile traffic website data be useful to you? Well, it shows you how people are interacting with your site. Viewing a website on a 15-inch computer screen vs. a 3-inch smartphone screen significantly changes the experience.
If 75% of your yearly visitors are viewing your site on smartphones, you may want to optimize your site for mobile first and desktop second. That can mean anything from presenting your menu and visuals differently to changing how you integrate and display calls to action.
7. Geographic location
Knowing where your visitors are coming from can be relevant if you are aiming to develop a strong local presence or you’re looking to reach and connect with people in specific areas.
You can also pick up on trends with potential marketing and advertising opportunities—like if you find 68% of your traffic is coming from people on the west coast of the United States.
8. Browser usage
There was a time when Internet Explorer was by far the dominant browser. Those days are gone. While IE is still the most common browser, Chrome, Firefox and Safari now also take up a substantial piece of the browser usage pie.
Websites can look different on different browsers. So knowing what browsers your visitors are coming from can be useful. If you find out 90% of your visitors are from people using Chrome, you’ll want to make sure all your pages look and work their best on that browser.
If you have a WordPress website and you don’t have Google Analytics set up yet, here’s a quick and easy tutorial on how to get started.