Analytics is foundational in your audience targeting, website optimisation, and content strategy yet most people don’t even know what the metrics mean. Today we talk about the ones you need to know.
What’s In This Episode?
- Sources (3:25)
- Page Views (7:35)
- Sessions (10:15)
- Page Views per Session & Sessions per User (11:03)
- Average Session Duration (12:17)
- Bounce Rate (14:03)
- Exit Pages (18:10)
- Search Terms (19:30)
- Site Search Tracking (21:10)
- Goals (22:20)
- Users & Behaviour Flow (24:15)
Josh: Analytics help you understand who your customers are. It drives your content strategy and yet a lot of small businesses we come across don’t know how to understand their analytics or don’t even have it installed on their site. Today we run you through back to basics on what is analytics, and why you should have analytics.
Welcome to Creative Juices, the show where we help you feel personally confident about your online presence.
I’m your host Josh and today I’m joined by Em.
Em: Hey Josh! Good to be back!
Josh: Good to have you back Em!
So both of us, we’re kind of like the analytic nerds around here.
Josh: We spend most of our time looking through analytics, looking through keywords, looking through audiences, all of that jazz!
Em: Uhah, all the fun stuff!
Josh: But one thing that we’ve recognized is that whenever we retain or whenever we get a new client or we have a look at other people’s websites, we come across this interesting thing where either they’re not using analytics whatsoever, or it’s just installed wrong, or it’s installed but they never actually look at it!
Em: Yeah, it’s crazy! It’s weird because everyone wants to do SEO, and know about SEO, but analytics is such a huge starting point for that, so…
Josh: Yeah, I mean, like one of the questions you ask is, off the top of your head, how many views do you get, or how many page views do you get on your site? And it’s like “I don’t know, maybe more than three”.
So what we’re doing today is we’re going to back to basics, and we’re going to talk through Google Analytics. And here’s the reason why you should pay attention to your Google Analytics. Google Analytics and those metrics that get generated on your website shows how engaging your website is, whether people are actually converting on your website, and it guides your entire content strategy moving forward, which we all know content is one of the main pillars of SEO.
Josh: And so, if you pay attention to analytics, then you can leverage it to up your SEO game, rank higher in your search results and also understand your users more, and where people are not engaging with your website.
Josh: It’s very important, but most people don’t understand what analytics are! And so, what we’re going to do is we’re going to step by step go through a few of the main metrics, the most important metrics and why it’s important and how it’s different to everything else, because people just get confused about analytics.
And so when we’re talking about analytics, we’re talking about Google Analytics but whether you’re, if you’re using another program, or something, a lot of these terms are consistent across the board, and some of these actually aren’t found within Google Analytics but may be found in Google Search Console or Google Ads or something like that. But it’s helpful across the board.
So Em, how about you get us started with our first metric!
Em: Yeah. Well to start with, like we both know that Google Analytics can go so deep, but these few things are like easy enough to understand and they should help you measure your website and get some things out of them. So to start with we’ll talk about sources, or sometimes you might see it written as referrals in your analytics account.
And so basically this just refers to where your traffic is coming from. So what’s the first point that people saw your website and then clicked onto it, or how basically how they arrived to your website. So you might see a few different terms in this sources section. One is direct traffic which basically means maybe someone typed your website URL straight into their browser and went directly to your website.
Josh: Yeah, and would this also be link clicks or not?
Em: Ah no.
Josh: Okay. So literally, you just have to… people… the user knows your website, so they type it in.
Em: Yeah, that’s right!
Em: So what you’re talking about, link clicks, that can be referrals or backlinks. So if you have a backlink on a specific website, then it should list the website itself that someone clicked through from.
Josh: Cool. So the first one was direct. What other forms of sources are there?
Em: We have organic which is a big one! So that basically means that someone found you through a search engine, so like Google. Maybe they typed in something and your website came up and they clicked through from a Google search.
Josh: Yep! So that’s… that one’s important and it really shows you how your SEO strategy is going, your organic SEO strategy.
Josh: The other one is you’ve got organic, but then you’ve also got paid, which is kind of like my area with Google Ads. So paid is generally a result of Google Ads or Bing Ads. Whatever it is they’re coming from it’s your paid advertising that you’re running, which doesn’t include Facebook paid advertising.
Em: Yeah! Okay, that’s good to know!
There’s also social, which I mean, that can kind of be a few different things lumped together. It can be Facebook and Pinterest. So that would all come under the socials referral.
Josh: Yeah, and now the other thing about sources is it’s important to know where your audience is coming from so that you can measure the effectiveness of all of your online efforts. So if you’re getting a lot through socials, awesome! Double down on that! Our approach is just do what works for you! If you’re absolutely like not doing well in your Google Ads but you’re smashing it on Facebook, it’s like maybe you should either well first re-look at your Google Ads to work out why it’s not working, but also don’t stop Facebook at the expense of fixing what’s not working, just double down on what is working.
And the other thing with sources is that you can set up custom sources. So for example I send out a Mailchimp campaign and I want to know where people come from, and there is a source that says emails, but maybe I want to break it out with Mailchimp emails. And so you can do that using UTM codes. Now we’re just going to leave it at that. You can research a little bit more, but it really helps you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing, because if you’re not measuring your marketing, then it’s not as effective as it could be.
Em: Yeah. That’s the whole point. We want to measure what we’re doing and see if it is effective.
So on the other hand, maybe you’re putting a lot into Facebook and social media but you’re not seeing the return on that. So that tells you that something might have to change, or maybe just to put your focus on another area.
Josh: Absolutely! Sources is also a great way to catch maybe bots or spam sites. So I’ve come across websites who’ve had one source from this one website and it’s like thousands of hits from this one website, and you click on it and it’s some… it’s some Chinese website that there’s no reason why they can link to that. And so, you can block that in your analytics to help you really get an understanding of who’s actually on your site.
Em: Yeah, that’s good to know.
Josh: So that’s sources, number one important to know where people are coming from, and what’s number two?
Em: Number two is page views. Now this literally means how many pages on your website have been viewed within a certain amount of time. So generally in analytics you can click to view maybe today or yesterday or the past week. You can select the time frame that you want to view things for. And so, page views is basically maybe someone visited your home page, and then they visited your about page, so that means they’ve had two page views for that one person. So that’s basically just an easy way to wrap your head around it I guess.
Josh: And so, why are page views important?
Em: Page views are important because we want to kind of see how people are using our website and see whether they’re engaging with it. So something we’ll talk about later is bounce rate, but basically if you’re not getting many page views or maybe people aren’t viewing multiple pages, they’re just only viewing one, then it shows that your website isn’t engaging, or maybe it’s not showing what they wanted to see or what they wanted to find out. So that’s important metric to see basically, yeah if your website is helping your users.
Josh: Yeah. And the flip side of this is it also shows you what pages on your site are working. So we came across an Osteo website who’s main page which… like their home page was getting less views than a blog that was titled “What’s the difference between an Osteopath and a Physio?” And so you can use page views to actually determine what content is actually attracting people. And so you can use page views, and our next one that we’re going to be talking about sessions. But you can use these things to inform your content strategy moving forward.
Em: Yeah! Absolutely! So if you find one topic is getting a lot of views, then maybe you want to expand. It tells you that people are interested in that topic so you want to start building some more content around that topic. Or maybe another way you could use page views is that if a certain page is getting a lot of views then how is your call-to-action on that page going? Are you driving people to make a booking or contact you, or is there just no call-to-action, and so they’re interested in that page or that topic but then what’s the next step for the user, so analyzing your pages in that way too.
Josh: And you can also use things like bounce rate and exit pages to track whether those call-to-actions are actually effective, which we’ll get to soon, but a main, a big misconception is between page views and sessions. What’s the difference between page views and sessions?
Em: Yeah we’ve gotten a few questions about this lately actually. So a session is basically how many times or how many users you’ve had on your website. So for example, a page view, one person might have visited your website and viewed three different pages, but that one user has had one session on your website. So it’s basically how many times someone has gone and visited your website in general. And so your page views are always going to be more than your sessions amount, because generally in one session or we’d hope that people are visiting more than one page.
Josh: Which leads to our next important metric which is page views per session. So, you want to be able to look at the page views per sessions and you want the page views to drastically outnumber the sessions, because then that shows that users are interested in your site and want to navigate your site.
Josh: And so, what you want to do is… this will inform your copy, how you design your pages because if users or if sessions are taking place and there’s only one page view per session, then it’s obvious that there’s no good call-to-action, because they’re not being led somewhere else.
Josh: And the aim of your website is to continually offer next steps until the conversion.
Josh: If you’re not making conversions, you’ve just got an ego… like an ego metric of “look at all these page views” and it’s like are these page views actually resulting in something?
Em: Yep, that’s what we want.
Josh: The other thing is just like you look at page views per session, it’s important to look at sessions per user, because that user may actually come back and do repeat sessions, which is also a good sign as well.
Josh: And then the next important one is average session duration.
Em: Yes! So session duration, it just refers to how long someone spends on your website. Now when you look at this in analytics you might think it’s a little low like “oh someone only spent one or two minutes on my website” but that’s actually not bad when you think about how fast we click through pages or how long it takes to read a paragraph or two on a page. So I would think that if people are spending one or two or more minutes on your website then that’s actually a good thing! If it’s under a minute, maybe they’re not quite finding what they wanted. But yeah! Basically more than a couple of minutes is a really good session duration. It shows people are really engaging with your website.
Josh: Absolutely! And last episode, we chatted about the principle of reciprocity and what that is, is it’s like you want to create this feeling that… that your users want to reciprocate. And so a great way of doing that is giving away free content. And if you give away free content or free tips on how to fix your back or how to fix your knee or something like that, then you’re using that information to keep people on your page. And because people who invest time into staying on your page are more likely to convert, then we use this metric of average session duration to kind of get an idea of that. It’s like we want to increase that time because the longer people stay on your page, the more chance there is that they’re going to convert because they’ve already invested so much time staying on that page.
Em: Yeah. True!
Josh: And then, that leads to bounce rate!
Em: Yes, bounce rate is an interesting one.
Josh: Bouncy, bouncy!
Em: Bounce rate basically means when someone has only visited one page on your website and then they’ve bounced or exited back off it. So for example, if you do a Google Search and then you click through on the top result, and you have a quick look at that page but then you realize it doesn’t have the information you want and you click back to Google, that’s considered that that person bounced. So where most of these metrics we want high numbers, for bounce rate we actually want a low percentage, because that means people have, if you’ve got a low bounce rate, it means people have visited more than one page on your website basically which is what we’re aiming for. We don’t want people to just quickly jump on and jump off. It’s also a bad sign for Google. So it’s something that Google takes into consideration for SEO. They take it as a sign that maybe your website didn’t have what people are looking for and so they might de-rank your site less than other websites that have a low bounce rate, for example.
Josh: Yeah. So you can use bounce rate combined with average session duration to actually determine the effectiveness of your copy, and the effectiveness of your call-to-actions. Because, if your copy is bad or not answering the question that the user wants to get answered, the session duration is going to be low and then they’re probably just going to bounce back off your site. So the copy is really… the session duration is really interlinked with your copy, and then your call-to-actions are interlinked with bounce rate, because if what you want is… you want a very low amount of people who actually just go onto that one page and bounce. You want them to click through to something else. So that’s the importance of user experience, making it super easy for people to navigate to find more information, to even book a service or buy a product and then that will avoid bounce rates.
Em: Yeah. Another thing to think about with bounce rate is what do people see? What’s that first thing that they see when they get on your website before they even scroll down? Does it line up with maybe the page title or what they were searching for or is it just like a huge image and they have to keep scrolling to find the content or something. You really want to make the first thing they see line up with what they could be looking for. And then, on top of this is just another thing I thought of, but bounce rate could also be to do with how long your website takes to load. So if it’s taking a long time, I know we’ve talked about this before that I don’t want to wait 10 seconds for a website to load. I’m just going to click back and find an answer somewhere else. So that could be something to look at too!
Josh: Absolutely! Speed of your site and the… the way that the site’s designed. Like what you mentioned before about the design is a very good landing page technique. It’s like if you’re creating a landing page for a Google Ad or Facebook ad and the Google Ad copy says “Are you experiencing heel pain” and you click on it and the first thing they see is a… is a line that says “Are you experiencing heel pain? We can help” they’re going okay this has confirmed my intent, which is I’ve got heel pain, and then it’s immediately confirmed, therefore I’m going to look. But if it’s… if it’s just a big image that has no relevance whatsoever it’s like where am I? What am I?
Josh: …and then I’m just going to bounce off that. And then, this leads to exit pages as well.
So when it comes to bounce rate and session duration and page views, this… you can look at those metrics site-wide, but you can also look at the specific page. So you can see the average session duration on that specific page or the bounce rate on that specific page. And then when we… when we’re talking about exit pages, this is talking about what page do users get to when they actually exit. So this, this is really important when it comes to your user journey and your user funnel.
So let’s say I land on a blog and this is one I saw the other day on a physio website. I landed on a blog I spent quite a bit of time on that blog, like two minutes. So I read the entire blog. There was a call-to-action. I clicked on that call-to-action and then I landed on a service page which was really confusing. I don’t understand it! But… and then there was a button that said “book now”, okay cool. Yeah I’m going to click on “book now” and then I get to the booking page and I have no idea how to book. Then I exit.
We can track that user journey and go okay, they spent two minutes on the blog. That’s good and then they went to this service page, which they spent like 10 seconds on so obviously our copy sucks on that, and then they landed onto our booking page and then they left. And we can tell from that, and we can deduce that they’re interested in booking…
Josh: …but something didn’t add up. They couldn’t book or they didn’t know how to book. And so using exit pages we can see where that user journey breaks down, I guess.
So next thing that we’re going to be talking about you can’t really find in Google Analytics unless it’s set up properly, which is a bit technical, but it’s search terms, and search terms are found in Search Console and Google Ads.
Em: Yes! So Search Console is different to analytics. Probably not as many people know about it, but it is really handy to have and it’s pretty simple to use. And so search terms basically in Search Console you can see the top queries that people entered into Google to find your website. So you can see it’s got like a whole bunch of data. You can see how many times someone entered a search term into Google. So maybe that was “physiotherapy near me” or “sore heel” or something like that. You can see what you’re ranked in the search for that query, and then you can also see like how many people clicked through to your website for that search term.
So some ways that you can use search terms, obviously that’s really interesting to see what… how people are finding you, but you can then take those keywords and see if you can improve those pages or your website around those keywords. So that’s a really handy feature.
Josh: Definitely drives your content strategy as well as your advertising strategy.
Josh: If someone’s searching, if you see a search term that has a lot of impressions but not much clicks maybe you should just run a Google Ad for that search term, therefore you’ll be ranked first and maybe if your copy is good and your landing pages are good you’ll get clicks and then conversions!
Josh: Yeah! I love search terms! I spend a lot of time in search terms!
The next thing is that you can track your site search. Now this is a little bit more technical but under your profile settings in Google Analytics there’s an option to enable site search settings. So let’s say you’ve got a search bar on your site and then people type in services or what services do you offer? If you’ve enabled this in Google Analytics, what you can do is you can say “I want the letter s to be a query”, and now when you search that site it says your site name/s= search query. And then that… everything after that = is tracked within Google Analytics. And this is important because you can see what pages people are finding hard to find.
Em: Yeah. Wow!
Josh: So if they’re looking for your blog then that can inform you to go “maybe I need to make my blog easy… like more easily accessible” because people only search in those bars when they can’t find it easily initially.
Josh: So it’s a really good tool to increase and better your user experience.
Em: Yeah. That’s a good one!
Josh: The next one is goals. This is my domain! Goals are super important. There’s a lot to be… there’s a lot involved in creating goals and leveraging goals correctly, but goals is how you track conversions and even how much money you’re making off those conversions. But even more than that, the goals can track absolutely anything!
So let’s say I want to track the entire booking process. So, I track that this person is clicking the “book now” button and then I’m tracking that they’re spending 30… over 30 seconds on my booking page, and then I’m tracking that they have actually confirmed a booking or they’ve actually purchased a product. So this is all tracked through goals, and page view goals, and event goals which you would need to actually research about. But the awesome thing about goals is that you can set them up into funnels, and this is the last thing that we’re going to chat about, unless you have something else, and this is my favourite thing, and this has everything to do with funnels and user flows and behaviour flows.
So first off, you can set up a goal funnel. So let’s say that example that I just used, I can see how many people clicked this button but then didn’t spend 30 seconds on that page…
Em: Yeah, right!
Josh: …which means well they’re not or… there obviously may not be… like they’re interested in booking, but they don’t know how to book, or maybe it’s… maybe the product’s different to what they initially thought. So maybe I need to improve my copy to make it more clear what we’re offering, or maybe they get through that but they never actually confirm the booking, so maybe my booking form is not clear enough or too in-depth, and maybe I need to reduce the amount of fields that I’m requiring.
Em: Yeah interesting!
Josh: So that’s goal flows and then there’s user flows, and behaviour flows.
So user flows which is under the audience setting tab in Google Analytics shows you all of the information about your users demographics, what demographics are engaging with different content and then behaviour flow which is my favourite can show you page by page where people go through and where people fall off that process. So you can see that someone lands on the home page and then 10% of those people click on services, and then 5% of them click onto the “book now” and then you can determine that there’s… there was a massive amount of people who dropped off in each step, and then you can go well why, and then make deductions from there. Maybe it requires way too many clicks for them to actually get where they want. And so, maybe I can improve that and it pretty much answers the question “Where do people abandon the process?”
Em: Yeah. It’s getting super deep, but that’s also super helpful as well to know these metrics and know where you can improve.
Josh: Absolutely! And so are there any other metrics that you would kind of recommend?
Em: I feel like we’ve covered the main ones. We started to get a little deep there at the end but I think the main key is to just understand an overview of analytics to start with, and start measuring, and start, you know, if you’re putting out content start tracking how it’s going and that way you can start making those improvements and tweaks to your site, and even tracking your conversions. That’s like a super handy tip to have as well. You can see your conversion rate and things like that. Ultimately there’s so much you can do with analytics, but yeah! It’s just getting in there and starting to understand these few key features.
Josh: Absolutely! So, we hope that you learned something from this or maybe we even challenged you to actually look at your analytics, or even install it properly! Do it, assess it! Experience means nothing, only evaluated experience does and this is a great way to evaluate everything that your website is doing.
So that’s it for today. Thank you Em.
Em: Thanks Josh!
Josh: And we will see you on the next show!