I promise that this doesn’t have to be complicated. Google Analytics is one of the few times where you can, in fact, “get a free lunch”. One of the most powerful analytics tools in the world also turns out to be the easiest to navigate and the easiest to link to your site.
Unfortunately a lot of business owners never look at their Google Analytics (or even set it up!), because they are intimidated by the interface. I’m here to tell you that it can be simple. You can get 90% of the platforms benefits by reading along for the next few minutes.
You have access to analytics.google.com through any Gmail address you own. Once you walk through the step-by-step set up instructions, the site will give you a tracking ID to install on your site. If you already skipped this part and need to go back and find the code, click: “Admin Panel” from the GA (Google Analytics) home screen on the bottom left, then “Tracking Info” and “Tracking Code”. All major site design platforms have incredibly simple ways to connect this code. Quickly search “Set Up Google Analytics on Squarespace” or whatever platform used to design your site, and you’ll be done in two minutes.
From the homepage you will see five key categories down the left-hand side of the screen: Realtime, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, Conversion. Here is a simplified definition of what each contains:
Realtime: The visitors on your site right now and what they are doing. For most small businesses, this view isn’t helpful as we need to be concerned with trends over time, rather than momentary blips. Let’s ignore this tab for now.
Audience: In short, this outlines the people who visited your site-- where they are from, what they like, and what device they used to look at your page.
Acquisition: An outline of how people made their way to your site.
Behavior: What visitors did once on your site.
Conversion: What was purchased from your site.
You only need to look at one or two key elements in each section to get a huge advantage out of the Google Analytics feature. Let’s go section by section to dissect.
The temptation is the look at the “Overview” tab in this section, but I would encourage you to focus on the data in the Acquisition section which we will cover next. There are two important things in this section. First, click on the tab: “Demographics” and allow GA to start tracking the types of people who are on your site. You have to give special permission for this, so do this first.
After you do this, continually look at the “Mobile” tab. In the overview here, you can see how mobile traffic performs vs desktop. What many brands find, is that the majority of their traffic is on mobile but conversions all happen on desktop. Use these stats to inform future design decisions.
Open this section up, and click on the sub-heading: “All Traffic”. This includes different ways for you to look at the people visiting the site. Click on: “Source/Medium” for the best view. What you will see here is a list of sources that your traffic came from. There are two definitions for each, the first word being specific to a place the traffic was from and the second word being the “type” of traffic. This will give you a quick glance at how people are finding you. Your top two sources will often be “Google/Organic” and “Direct/None”. The former are people who searched through Google and ended up on your site, the latter are visitors that typed your site directly into their browser. Here you will also see “referral” traffic which represents other sites that sent you visitors, as well as “social” and “email” traffic (from obvious sources). Use this view to get an idea of how most people are finding you, and which type of traffic sticks around the longest.
The most important numbers to view on each line is the “Pages/Session” metric as well as “Conversion Rate”. This can help you determine what traffic is the most interested in your story, and which is the most valuable.
This section can help you identify how visitors move through your site. You may know where you want them to go, but this gives you the reality of where they end up. Open this section, click the: “Site Content” menu and select “All Pages”. This will show you your most popular pages, how long visitors spend on each, and what page people most often exit your site from.
Your homepage will be the top page 99% of the time. Pay attention to pages 2-5. This can be seen as the main flow that different potential customers take. Often they will head to tabs like “Best Sellers” or “Contact” first. Based on what you want them to do, this could be good or bad.
Once set up, the “Ecommerce” menu houses the “Overview” section that you should be looking at. This holds the top products, conversion rate, cart size, and transactions by day. This view is a great overview for the day, but is made more powerful by the fact that GA can attach your acquisition sources to the conversions. This means you can see just how important your social, email, or paid ads are to your business. Inside of the “Overview” tab here you can also get a sense of how many purchasers are using coupons or discounts versus making full price purchases. With the knowledge you have of your business, this can be telling if you are building a discount or full-price business.
There are all kinds of filters, date comparisons, and segments you can use to cut this data up a thousand different ways. We encourage you to explore this as you become more comfortable with the data you are seeing, and encourage you to check GA once a day to look back at how your site and business performed the day before.
Once in this habit for a few weeks, you will start to discover what is most important to you and what you would like to see more of. All of a sudden, the world of analytics will be demystified!