What Is Google Analytics And Why Should I Care?
When teaching search engine optimization, students who don't measure their web site performance what to know what is Google Analytics all about, and why should they care?
Great question! First, let's define what analytics is about.
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website.
Right, so we collect and assess analytics to see how well (or bad) our website is performing on a page by page basis, and we often drill down to specific metrics.
Google Analytics is great, because it's free, and usually most of us can afford free, right? And unlike most freebies, you get a butt-ton of very detailed, useful information to see how well your web pages are performing.
Analytics will show you what's working on your website, and what's leaving your web visitors feeling "meh" about. Let's go over some of the most common metrics you can use to get a feel for how your site is performing.
Google Analytics Engagement Metrics
I'm going to concentrate on what are commonly known as "engagement" metrics. These are the measurements that show you how well your web visitors like your content. These are also the metrics that the Google Panda algorithm penalty considers when your pages have been what is sometimes lovingly referred to as being "Panda-slapped."
Here's a screen shot of them:
Sessions are Google-speak for visits. We obviously wants lots of sessions! Users are our web visitors, and we want all of those that are interested in what we offer. Page views refers to the number of pages seen on your site. The more the better!
The higher the pages/session and average session duration numbers are, the better our content is - it must be engaging and interesting to our web readers.
The bounce rate is something we always strive to lower. Bounce refers to the practice of someone landing on a page of our site, and exiting from that same page without ever having looked at any other pages. Bad!!
What Is Google Analytics Acquisition & Behavior?
The other items to assess are where your traffic is coming from (Acquisition) and which pages are viewed the most (Behavior).
This refers to where your web visitors are coming from:
- Organic search refers to the visitors that came to your site from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
- Direct means web visitors typed in your entire domain or URL into the browser.
- Referral traffic is visitors who came to one of your pages from a non-search engine web site through a link.
- Social refers to the social media sites that sent traffic your way through links.
Ideally, we want a diversity of traffic sources to send us visitors. If we see stats where the only visitors are coming from direct or social media, then we know our content needs on-page SEO to rank in search engine results.
This section shows you which pages have gotten the most views, the average time spent on each page, the bounce rate and more:
As you can easily see, your most popular content is measured. The "/" in row 5 is your home page. On most sites, your home page is typically the most viewed page. Ideally, you want your product and services to be right up there in high numbers with your home page, because that's where you convert visitors to customers!
I hope this answers the question of "what is google analytics?" for you in a high-level way. I teach you the basics of Google Analytics in my one day SEO basics class, but if you really want to learn more, my training partners at E-Nor offer in-depth training classes that will make you a Google Analytics Ninja!
If you haven't looked at your Google Analytics in awhile, or ever, why not open up a new browser window and see how your pages are performing? You might be surprised at what you can easily do to improve individual page performance.
The companion to Google Analytics is Google Search Console. Read more about this other free service from the search engine.
You can now get online SEO training where you learn how to optimize websites on your schedule.
Until we meet next time, stay safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,