Google Analytics is awesome! Done deal. I could stop right there and be happy with this post…But seriously! Google Analytics is an awesome tool. Not just for SEOs, but anyone who owns and operates a website. Why? Google Analytics is the greatest thing since sliced bread BECAUSE it tells you the story. What story? The ins and outs of your website friend! Who’s looking at your site? Which pages? Where did they come from? How long did they stay? Are mobile browsers looking at your site? Which mobile device did they use? Google Analytics answers each of these questions! They “tell you the story” about user experience on your website. And the best part, it’s FREE! Now listen, I’m not endorsed by Google, they didn’t pay me to tell you how much I enjoy their tool. This is my own opinion. So here’s a list of metrics that, in my opinion, should be reviewed, tracked, measured and everything else you can think of:
- Real-Time Data: Google recently rolled out real-time analytics which allows you to watch live users move throughout your site. Not only that, you can see the keyword that brought them in, their geographic location and the referral source if they came over from another website! It’s awesome!
- Referrals: As I mentioned above, Google will show you real-time referral data, but you can also see historical referrals. This is great for tracking the sites that have sent you the most traffic over the past month, six months, year and so on. I’ve blurred out a few of my website’s referral sources, but you see below that over the past few weeks Facebook has “referred” 21 visitors to my site:
- Mobile Devices: Google tracks mobile activity. Which phones are most commonly used when looking at your site? Which tablet? How long do they stay as compared to desktop users? Great info! You can see below that over the past few weeks, 74 visits were from iPad users:
- Pages: This is gold. What pages do your users most commonly visit? How long does the average user linger on any given page? Conversely, on which pages do users most commonly exit the site? Which pages have the lowest Average Time on Page? You can see below that my homepage (/) has received 364 views in the past few weeks:
- Site Speed: Have you ever considered the load time of your site? Pages that take too long to load are typically more difficult to rank. Meaning, the quicker your pages load, the easier it is to improve your site’s positioning in search engines. Reference Google Analytics’ site speed to determine if load optimization is necessary for any of your individual pages.
- Organic Keywords: Google will show you the keywords that are driving users to your site. Well, they’ll give you SOME of the keywords driving users to your site. They’ve made a more recent update to Analytics that prevents signed-in Google users from passing search query data. Kind of a bummer – that’s why you see the (not set) data below. Nevertheless, the info you receive from non-signed in users is still beneficial.
- Conversion Tracking [A MUST HAVE!]: Conversion tracking allows you to measure the success of web forms, sales funnels, landing pages, etc. Setup a separate goal within Google Analytics for each individual call-to-action on your site so that you can continually improve over time. Also, conversions allow you to attach a dollar value (if applicable) to individual conversion. This is perfect for monitoring ROI.
Each of the metrics above provides you with actionable insights. You don’t believe me? Here’s an example, if you are seeing a steady growth in mobile visitation, consider building a mobile friendly site that will allow users to easily access your contact information and business address. You know that’s what the majority of mobile users are looking for right? How about this, if your site is running slow, use a tool like YSlow to help you optimize individual pages. Quicker load times improve website crawlability, user experience and search engine ranking. Also, are there any terms on the organic keyword report that you could do a better job of targeting? Probably. Improve organic rank by using relevant keywords more frequently throughout your site. Here’s a great point to reference for keyword usage.
Listen, there are dozens of things you can do to improve user experience and organic ranking by digging into your web analytics. Be creative, think BIG and most importantly, HAVE FUN!