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Google Analytics 101: The Basics of the Data

Posted on 11/28/2012 by Brian Petti

If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics or the data it provides, logging into your account can be quite overwhelming. There are many different options to choose from, and plenty of ways to manipulate the data displayed. First, let’s go over the some of the most common capabilities used in Analytics.
  • Display the top keywords that brought traffic to the website over a specified period of time
  • Display the top landing pages with the most visits over a specified period of time
  • Show the number of goal completions over a specified period of time
  • Show the average amount of time a visitor spent on each page.
  • Display the keywords that converted the most or with the highest percentage
  • Show traffic separated by the different search engines
  • Show traffic by paid campaigns, organic visits, direct visits, or referral visits from other websites

Obviously, there are a number of other ways to change the data in Analytics, but these are some of the most beneficial for beginners. Now let’s look at what is displayed and what it tells us.

Visits – This shows the number of times people visited your website. By digging deep into the data, you can also see what page the visitor first landed on, what keyword brought them to that page, and more.

Unique Visits – These are visits that are only counted one time per individual visitor. These differ from regular visits because they count multiple visits from the same visitor.

Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors that came to your website but immediately left. The lower the bounce rate is the better.

Visit Duration – This is the average amount of time a user spent on your website during the specified date range.

Pageviews – The number of times people went to a different page within your website.

Pages per Visit – The average number of pages visited during the specified date range.

New Visits – The percent of visitors that were new to your website during the specified date range.

By using the different data measurements above, you can identify problem areas throughout your site as well as find new opportunities to concentrate on. For example, you can look at the landing pages and find pages with high bounce rates. By clicking on that page, you will see only data relative to that page. Click the Secondary Dimension dropdown and select Keywords. Now you can see all of the keywords that brought traffic to that page. Look at the keywords and see how well they relate to the content on the actual page. If the keywords and the landing page don’t relate well, that might be the reason for the high bounce rate.

Analytics is one of the most useful tools for any website. Take advantage of the many free tools and tutorials offered by Google to learn the ins and outs of the whole program.