Top 3 Google Analytics Reports You Need to Know

Where to start if you want to grow your business. 

Do you hear the words “Google Analytics” and cringe? If so, I don’t blame you. Google Analytics is complex and notoriously complicated. When I first started to dig into it, I wondered if I’d ever truly get it. (Spoiler alert: I did, and you can too!)

The good news? You don’t need to know every nook and cranny to gain valuable insights from your Google Analytics reports. The key is not to get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information available to you. Start small.

Here are the top three reports—to start with—that will give you valuable insight into your audience and website performance.

Audience Overview

This top-level report gives you an overall snapshot of your website performance and who is accessing your site. Here you’ll see how many people are visiting your site, what percentage of those users are first-time visitors, where they are from and even how long any given person tends to stay on your site.

Why is this information important?
A quick overview can keep you abreast of trends or changes in your audience. Have the number of visitors dropped off or increased dramatically? Has your bounce rate increased from last time you logged in? If so, there’s a chance you’re not providing relevant information and you need to take a look at what content you are providing. Tracking this information helps you understand what your audience wants and needs.

How to get there: 
Find it under “Audience” in the left sidebar.

Expand to check out Demographic Information
To further analyze your audience, check out the other expandable menus under “Audience” in the right sidebar. Here you can explore more demographic information like age, gender and interests. This all helps you to understand who is visiting your website.

This demographic information will be your BFF for marketing initiatives. When you can collect this type of data about your site visitors, you can begin to tailor your messaging and marketing tactics toward that audience. This information should also inform your choices for advertising or where you end up putting your marketing dollars and see some serious ROI.

GoogleAnalytics_AudienceOverview

 

Top Pages

This report helps you understand what content is really working on your site. It shows you which pages are visited the most, ranked by the number of views for those particular pages.

Why is this information important?
If you know which blog posts and pages are getting the most traffic on your site, you can build a better content strategy. In other words, give the people what they want! If everyone is gravitating toward recipes on your foodie website but skipping over the nutritional information, then you know you should beef up (pun intended) your recipe offerings to attract and retain visitors.

How to get there:
Access this information under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

Expand to check out Exit Pages
This report shows the last page users visited before leaving your site. A lot of people have said that you should analyze exit pages to understand why people are leaving your site. But just because someone has left doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the content.

Here is why:

I search “new restaurants in Maine” for a girls’ night out and click on a place that piques my interest. First, I check out the menu (usually dessert first) and it sounds amazing. I then click on their news/press page. It links to an article on Eater.com, so I leave the site to read it. It’s a rave review, and I can’t dial the number fast enough to book a reservation.

That press page is my exit page. It’s also the reason I’m now a paying customer. Check out your Exit Pages report, but take that data with a grain of salt.

GoogleAnalytics_SiteContent

 

Acquisition Overview

This report breaks down your traffic (visitors) by source:

  • Organic search – Visitors who have searched a topic relevant to what your company does/offers and have stumbled upon your site. (Nice SEO work, BTW!)
  • Direct – Visitors who have typed your URL into a search engine address bar to get to your site.
  • Referral – Visitors who go to your website from another website or blog where you were mentioned or linked.
  • Social – People who visit your site directly from one of your social channels. (And you can see which ones.)
  • Other – Google uses the “other” category when it doesn’t know where to put something—kinda like your kitchen junk drawer. It belongs but you’re just not sure where…

Why is this information important?
Knowing where people are coming from can help you to understand what needs improvement and what’s really working. If the number of social visitors to your website is super low while you’ve been running Facebook ads, maybe it’s time you give that Facebook campaign the much needed love and attention it deserves.

How to get there: 
Under “Acquisition” in the left sidebar.

Expand to check out social
Social media is a huge tool in recruiting and retaining loyal customers. By visiting the social segment of the Acquisition Overview, you can see which social media channels are driving the most traffic to your website.

For example, if Facebook is killing it as a source for a ton of website visitors but Instagram isn’t, maybe it’s time to rethink your Instagram strategy.

Pro Tip: Keep your social media strategy objectives in mind when looking at this information. If your objective for Instagram has nothing to do with driving traffic to your website but your Facebook objective does, then you’ll know you’re doing that correctly. In this case, you’ll want to compare just the Facebook numbers over time to make sure they are steady or increasing regularly. 

GoogleAnalytics_Acquistion

 

Go Forth and Analyze!

So, that’s it. Those are the three basic analytics reports that your business should—at the very least—be paying attention to. It’s basic, yes, but each of these reports holds a lot of powerful information that can help generate content and marketing strategies to grow your business.

Once you get comfortable in these three Google Analytics reports, start branching out to the others, such as conversion and revenue reports, form conversions and cohort analysis—the list literally goes on and on.

And if you give it a go and still don’t get it, but you’re dying to strategically grow your business based on real numbers… call me, maybe.