Google Analytics

The Best Ways to Understand How to Read Google Analytics

Here Are Our Tips on How to Read Google Analytics

If you are wondering how to read Google Analytics then you came to the right place. 

Now the first thing you should keep in mind when trying to read Google Analytics is that you should already have a Google Analytics account setup. The good news is that if you already have an existing Google, Gmail, and Google Drive account you can set up your Google Analytics account with the existing account. You can also set up a new Google Analytics account for your business if you prefer to use a different account.

The good news is that Google Analytics makes it super easy to read the data in your reports. This is because you are able to view and analyze this data in one place. Using Google Analytics to view your data allows you to make smarter decisions.

If you are a beginner with Google Analytics, never fear, here is some basic information to get you started.

When you open Google Analytics you will see the dashboard. This dashboard gives you  a comprehensive overview of your website/page’s performance within the parameters you set. In this dashboard on the left-hand side the reports button allows you to view more detailed reporting. Some of the areas covered on this dashboard include:

  • Audience
  • Acquisition
  • Behavior
  • Device

You can either use the default dashboard in Google Analytics or you can create and customize a unique dashboard to meet your needs. Even if you create and customize your own dashboard it will encompass all of the sections listed in more detail below.

Now, let’s take a closer look into each of these four areas covered in the Google Analytics dashboard. 

Audience 

The overview of this section will give you comprehensive insights into the audience accessing your site. If you go into this section of the dashboard, you will see charts that represent:

  • Total sessions - this is your reach, otherwise known as the total number of visits to your site, both new and repeat visits - an increase will show up in green and a drop will show up in red
  • Total users - number of users accessing your site
  • Page Views - this is how many page views per visit - are users leaving after spending time on one page or are they jumping around to lots of pages on your site? 
  • Average pages per session - the average amount of pages your readers are viewing
  • Average session duration - the average length of sessions on your site - starts when a user lands on the site and ends either when the user leaves the site or is inactive for a predetermined amount of time
  • Bounce rate - single-page sessions divided by all sessions or in other words the percentage of all sessions on your site where users viewed a single page - you want to keep this value lower than the average of 50%, anything higher could be cause for concern
  • New versus returning - these are the new and returning visitors to your site - new are users that have never viewed your site while returning users have visited your site - if you are seeing an increase in traffic than it means that your content campaigns are working 
  • Geo - this shows you were in the world there are users accessing your site
Graphic showing audience overview in Google Analytics.
An example of what a Google Analytics dashboard looks like, showing the menus on the left-hand side where you can click on Audience to get an overview of your audience reports. Image courtesy of Collectivedge

Acquisition 

This section shows you where your users are coming from, because it is important to know where they originate from! This is different from the geo location of your audience. This tells you if your social media campaigns are being effective. These reports will show you if your users are coming from:

  • Direct Hits - this is when someone visits your site by pasting the URL to visit your site directly, clicks a bookmark, or ends up on your website by clicking a link that Google Analytics is unable to see
  • Organic Search - this is the free listing on search engines that appear because it is similar to what the user searches for - analyzing this can help you identify new keywords to target for your Google Ads campaigns
  • Paid Search - this is the traffic that comes from the paid search ads - this comes from ads running on search engines such as Google or Bing
  • Referral - this is the traffic that comes from sites that refer users to your site by them clicking on a link - this can be from influencers linking your site on their pages
  • Social - this is from users clicking on a link to your site from social media - and it can help you understand the impacts of social media marketing

This is just some basic information on the insights gained from each of these types of reports. There are way more in-depth insights you can gain from each of these reports by viewing them under the acquisition section of the Google Analytics dashboard.

Behavior 

This section gives you insights into the behavior of your users on your site. This is a good way for you to determine what content is working, and what content is not working, which will allow you to update and improve your content if needed.

In this section you can view your top performing pages as well as the most common pages where users are leaving (exit pages). Remember these exit pages are completely different from the bounce rate. Keep in mind that it is not possible to keep visitors on your site forever, but it is important they are leaving your site where you want them to leave.

There is a user flow section under the behavior part of the dashboard. This will give you insights to the path your users go on when visiting your site and where changes may be needed in your UX strategy (user experience). 

Device

This section is interesting because it allows you to view what device users are accessing your site from. These devices can be a desktop computer, mobile phone, or a tablet. Knowing this will help you determine what kind of content will best give your users what they want. For example, longform content may not be the best choice if most of your users view your site from a mobile phone.

Image of someone with a phone, tablet, and laptop in front of them.
Make sure your website is easily accessible from any device and free from errors that could make it hard to read on a phone or tablet.

Why Is It Important to Understand How to Read Google Analytics?

It is  crucial to learn how to read Google Analytics because if you have trouble reading the reports, it can be difficult to understand the data you are viewing. If you have trouble reading this data, it can slow down decision making necessary for your site.

The importance of Google Analytics is that it can help you track and measure metrics that will help you grow your business. Knowing how to read these metrics will give you an advantage because it lets you know if what  you are currently doing is working. If it’s not working, these metrics will give you insights into what needs to be improved, that way you can meet your goals.

Image of people looking at data.
Understanding how to read Google Analytics can give you valuable insights into the performance of your site. Image courtesy of Blue Laser Digital

Conclusion

Google Analytics is an important analytical tool that can give you insights into your business and website.

Understanding how to read Google Analytics is super important, as it can give you lots of valuable information to help you grow your business. If you are a beginner then you can view some handy Google Analytics beginners guides that give you some basic information to help you get started.

December 2, 2022
by 
Elizabeth Grobstein
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