April 13, 2017
Google Analytics Tips
Collecting data is great. But on its own, data doesn’t _do_ anything. _Actionable insights _are what actually help you move the needle for more traffic, leads, and conversions. You just have to know where to look. Here are four easy-to-access Google Analytics reports to upgrade your marketing efforts immediately.
1. The opportunity cost of lost mobile conversions
Ok. So Mobilegeddon was a little overblown. The reaction dramatic and over-the-top. But there is a mobile-first algorithm coming (one day). And right now, mobile conversions _still_ lag those on desktop (on average). Google recently analyzed “900,000 mobile ads’ landing pages spanning 126 countries”, and found that: _“Despite the fact that more than half of overall web traffic comes from mobile, our data shows that mobile conversion rates are lower than desktop._” Most of your site visitors are mobile. You’ve known that. But doing something about it is the issue. Namely: budget to overhaul that slow, outdated, non-responsive site. Here’s your ammunition to get resources ASAP. Log in to Google Analytics. Look under the _Audience_ section in the left-hand sidebar. Click on _Mobile_ to expand your options and then hit Overview. On the far right-hand side, you can select a Goal completion to be displayed next to your mobile performance breakdown. And you can see the difference in _Conversion Rate_ and total _Goal Completions_ during that period. Perfect. Now you can clearly see that there’s a quantifiable difference in how your mobile site performs versus your desktop site. It converts at nearly 1-2% less. The above example is an insurance brokerage. Each client is worth thousands of dollars to them. Each lead costs them hundreds of bucks (when using AdWords). So with a little simple Excel magic, you can now put together estimates for the potential new revenue _and_ cost savings this company stands to receive if they overhaul their underperforming mobile site. And with some Finance 101, you should be able to calculate a CAC payback period that will make your CFO all giddy inside.
2. Find where people are leaking out of your site
Blog posts are great for bringing in brand new website visitors. That’s because they’re perfect for targeting top of the funnel topics that get tons of views. For example, more people search for good old “Las Vegas” than one with commercial intent like “Las Vegas Hotels.” But there’s a problem. Bringing people into your site is only half the battle. Keeping them around and getting them deeper into your funnel is the other half. (You know, Activation and all that.) Let’s start by looking up your most popular blog content. Click on Behavior, the _Site Content_ dropdown and then All Pages. Next, head over to add a Secondary Dimension for Source / Medium. (Note: You might have to add another step here to search for URLs with either “blog.domain.com” or “/blog” depending on your setup + permalink structure. We’ll look at adding Advanced dimensions in the next one.) Otherwise, now you can sort by _Unique Pageviews_ or _Unique Visits_ to see how many new visitors each blog post is bringing in… … and then over at the _Bounce Rate_ and _Exit Rate_ to see how many of those are sticking around. Yikes. Doesn’t matter how much you’ve appeased the SEO gods if the vast majority of those people are leaving immediately. Bounce rates, by themselves, can be misleading. For example, if you send paid traffic to a landing page, you actually might want a high bounce rate because that means people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing: opting in. But a bounce rate of ~87% on a blog post is alarming. Even more so when the exit rate is a similarly terrible ~86%. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of things to try to improve those numbers. For example:
- Update the content (outdated information, doesn’t match the queries bringing people in, etc.) For the example above, we added a few blog posts together to create a single guide on the same topic. Here’s the work-in-progress example.
- Add more internal links
- Recommended Posts widget
- New top of the funnel offer CTAs (blog posts, checklists, PDF, etc.)
- Images, diagrams, or infographics
The hard part, of course, is the execution. Actually following through. Taking time out of your busy schedule to actually do some of those things. But here’s why it’s probably worth the effort.
3. Find some low hanging SEO fruit
In 2015, Unbounce interviewed Buffer’s content extraordinaire / content baller shot caller / content wizard (I can keep going), Kevan Lee, about a little experiment they did. Specifically, they stopped publishing anything new for a month. That’s nerve wracking for most. We’re all on the content marketing bandwagon. To stop, slow down, or pull back, seems like a recipe for disaster. But here’s the best part: traffic only dipped 4%. A measly four percent! Fast forward a year and Unbounce was inspired to do the same thing. They went on a self-imposed blogging hiatus for two weeks in order to re-evaluate and upgrade their existing stuff. What happened? Just “275% more conversions from their top 17 highest traffic posts.” No biggie. Think about that. How much time does content creation take? Add up anywhere from three hours to a full day. Multiply by 30 if we’re talking a month, and you’re looking at somewhere between 90 and 240 new hours that just got added back to your schedule. Or, plenty of time to go back and fix or improve or upgrade all that existing stuff that could be _so much better with just a little polishing. You already found a few posts to optimize in the last step. But here’s how to find a few more. The goal is to identify the low hanging fruit for SEO. Hat tip to _Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media for this one. First, go to the _Queries_ report that’s located under _Acquisition_ > Search Console. Perfect. Now you should see some of the top search queries sending you traffic. (Minus all of your [not provided] stuff. On the far right, you’ll nice the last column is Average Position. That’s, well, your average position on search engine result pages (SERPs) for that query. The objective here is to find all of your content listed at the _top of the second page_ in Google. Generally speaking, SERP click through rates correlate with your position on the page. So the higher you rank, the higher distribution of searchers you can expect to click on your content. (See this Moz study for evidence.) Interestingly, the better your CTR the higher you can rank too. (See Larry Kim’s data on Moz.) Your content ranking on the second page of a big keyphrase is decent. It’s got a fighting chance. But with a little bit of TLC (no, not _that_ TLC), it can rise up and deliver exponentially greater results as it slowly moves up to the coveted 1-5 spots. There are 10 results on a SERP. So we want to find those queries with an average position of 10-20 for the second page. Click on the _advanced_ text link to drop down some additional dimensions. Select Average Position, Greater than, and 10. Now look for the ones with the highest impressions so you can quickly figure out which are most worth your time. In the example above, I immediately know which posts those are because I did the initial keyword research and on-page optimization. But if you don’t know, you’ll have to reverse-engineer the landing page. Start by simply going back to the last step of looking at which pages on your site are receiving the most visits from search engines. You should be able to easily to up the topics (depending on how many posts you have). Otherwise, a paid tool like the aforementioned Moz can help you assign a landing page to a keyword and track results over time. Hook up Google Analytics. And then you’ll get one nice, handy view of the search traffic a landing page is seeing, the potential volume, and the current rank. For extra credit, you can go back to the Queries report to look for all of the potential long tail search queries that might be sending traffic to the same page. For example, all of the keyphrases below are sending traffic to the same page on our site. Now you’ve got the data. In all of about ten minutes. Go back to the list of quick tips in the last section. Or roll up your sleeves and build some Skyscrapers to dominate the topic completely. Phew. That was a long one. Let’s end it with another easy one. Once these posts and pages start bringing in more traffic, here’s where you should send them.
4. Find which content is driving the most conversions
Some pages on your site convert better than others. Finding those are easy. You just look at the last step someone took prior to conversion. But what about before that? What pages or posts _assisted _the conversion? One simple way to find them is by looking up the Reverse Goal Path for one of your Goals. (Hopefully these are already set-up. Unfortunately, Google Analytics can’t do a retroactive analysis. So you can’t gain back historical data.) First, go to the _Conversions_ section in the left-hand sidebar. Then click the _Goals_ dropdown to reveal Reverse Goal Path. Next, select the Goal you’d like to track. Keep in mind the customer journey here. If you’re trying to assess which blog posts are performing the best, typically you’ll want to just review top of the funnel goals then. Now you can look over to the right-hand side to find the _Previous Steps _that happened right before someone converted. You’ll see some landing pages. But if you go back far enough, you should be able to spot the blog posts and other content pages that drove visits to those pages in the first place. **Tip #1. **Improve those content pages that are already driving conversions! See steps above. Tip #2. Add more internal links and post CTAs that drive people to those top assisting pages once they hit your site!
Knowing where to look
Google Analytics is like a big data dump. There’s no shortage of stuff inside. And it can get mind numbingly complex in a hurry. Before long, you’ll waste hours trying to crunch sophisticated analyses without ever actually learning anything valuable or actionable. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know where to look, you’ll be able to find a few quick wins that’ll provide with weeks’ worth of ideas to implement ASAP. Any Google Analytics quick wins you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments.