October 7, 2016
Beyond Vanity Metrics: Going Deeper Into Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the most popular, influential, and widely used analytics platform on the web. It can provide you with insight into your online presence, including:
Who your visitors are
Which website pages your visitors are engaging with
Where your visitors are located
When your most popular content is accessed
Which devices your visitors are using
Why specific content gets more love
The platform goes beyond typical vanity metrics (e.g. traffic), and holds a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. You just have to know where to look. In this post, we’re going to take a tour of some of the lesser-known Google Analytics reports that reveal your visitors’ intent, how they navigate your website, and their consumption habits. Let’s get cracking.
Understanding visitor intent
The best marketers are the best mind readers—they understand what their customers want. One way to get into your customer’s brain is to review search queries (aka keywords) that people use to arrive at your website. This provides a window into what your visitors are looking for, so you can create content that is relevant, valuable, and persuasive. This is where the Organic Search Traffic Report comes into play.
What is the Google Analytics Organic Search Traffic Report?
The Organic Search Traffic Report shows terms and phrases people use to land on your website—these leads are on the hunt for answers. While this report does not deliver every search query, it does provide enough information for your business to develop a strategy around reaching your target audience.
In your Search Console account, navigate to Search Traffic > Search Queries
The Organic Search Traffic Report will help you:
Get an idea of what percent of searches include your brand name vs. general searches
Examine how people are searching for your products and services. Are they asking questions, or searching for a particular element of your business?
Evaluate your average keyword rankings, so you can get an idea of how high you rank in search results.
With these insights, you can create content that addresses your customer’s needs—leading to higher quality traffic, leads, and revenue.
Learning how visitors navigate through your website
Once visitors land on your site, where do they go from there? And which webpage flows lead to your next conversion event—a lead magnet download, a free trial signup, or a purchase? This is where the Behavior Flow Report comes in handy.
What is the Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report?
The Behavior Flow Report provides a snapshot (not a Snapchat!) of the movements your visitors take through your website. Knowing how visitors interact with your website empowers you to optimize both existing and future content for conversions.
Find the Behavior Flow Report under the “Behavior” tab on the left-hand menu of Google Analytics
In the Behavior Flow Report, the green boxes represent individual pages. Between each page are “connectors” shown with gray lines that demonstrate user flow from one page to another. The red lines identify where users left your site as “bounces.” And each page is grouped into columns based on the stages of specific actions that your audience was in before the entry or exit of other columns. Look for the moments where users leave your site or fail to convert. Focus your optimization efforts there first. If you see visitors bounce at a particular page, try A/B testing different value propositions or call to actions to nudge them toward the next stage of the customer journey.
Discovering the devices your visitors use
Which devices are your website visitors using? Does your audience skew toward mobile, desktop, or tablet? Understanding how your customers engage with your content will lead to more thoughtful content creation, and ultimately a better customer experience. Thankfully, we have the Google Analytics Device Report to give us the insight we need.
What’s the Google Analytics Device Report?
The Google Analytics Device Report shows how people engage with your website on mobile, desktop, and tablet. More specifically, the report provides information like:
Engagement rates of desktop vs. mobile
Bounce Rate between different mobile vs. desktop devices
Smartphone vs. tablet vs. desktop conversion rates
Look for the “Mobile” tab in Google Analytics. “Overview” shows the aggregate of devices used to access your website.
These statistics will help you identify how you can optimize your pages based on the your audience’s consumption patterns. For example, if 95% of your visitors browse on desktop, tailor your content for laptop screens. If your mobile visitors are bouncing 50% faster than desktop, consider creating a responsive design.
The growing trend towards mobile
In recent years, several of my clients have seen a significant shift towards mobile content consumption. Depending on their market, target audience, and products, some customers have seen more change, but overall, I have seen more mobile devices used than desktop devices. As a result, I recommend optimizing your content for mobile. Practically this means:
Craft strong headlines that hook people quickly
Write shorter paragraphs with only 2-3 sentences
Use a larger font on your mobile view, with smaller pictures and higher contrast.
Create a minimalist website design. Complex pages cause confusion on the small screen.
Think about what your customer is doing based on the device they use to access your content, then implement changes that help users meet their goals.
Going beyond vanity metrics
By going deeper into Google Analytics, you’ll have the data you need to make informed marketing decisions—create this content, remove that content; design this page, restructure that page; A/B test this, A/B test that. And the better decisions you make, the greater the chances you’ll arrive at the land of revenue and conversions. Which Google Analytics reports do you regularly use? Why are they helpful for your business? Let us know in the comments.