30 Mar

What Else Does Google Know About Your Site

One of the best things about marketing via the web is the ability to measure the results of your activities. Everyone has heard someone say “my site gets a ton of hits”. Let’s ignore the fact for a moment that hits are not a good indication of a site’s performance the fact remains that marketers can use services like Google Analytics to great effect. Whether it is measuring how pages, cities, devices or some other metric is affecting performance or just making sure the general trend is going the right way Google Analytics is an essential, and free, tool.

A couple of months ago I posted a Google Analytics presentation to Slideshare. The following are another four measurements Google Analytics can help you discover.

There are a number of reports in Google Analytics that can help the site owner determine visitor engagement.  A report I like to use for this purpose is the average pageviews report.  By monitoring how many pages a visitor looks at the site owner can get a sense of how engage the visitor is.  The average pageviews report can also indicate the presense of a navigation problem.  In most cases a visitor to a site needs to look at more than one page before they take an action.  How many pages they need to take isn’t always obvious.  From the average pageviews report the site owner can determine if their are too few pages being visited or too many.  Too many might indicate that users can’t find what they are looking for.

Average Pageviews - Google Analytics

Pageview reports are an indicator of what is going on with your site but they don’t provide insight into what’s happening on specific pages.  Fortunately for the site owner Google Analytics provide several reports such as landing pages report and exit pages reports that shed some light on visitor behaviour.  Another helpful report is the navigation summary report.  With the navigation summary report you can see which pages were visited before the current page and which pages were visited after the current page.  Something I find interesting when looking at the navigation summary is to see how many visitors go back to a transition page in order to re-orient themselves on a given website.

Navigation Summary - Google Analytics

Smartphones are all the rage but are people really using them to surf your website.  The short answer is yes.  Google recently added a report to Google Analytics that will show how many visits and from which type of handsets visit your site.   This report will give an early indication of whether or not your site should be made mobile aware.  The short answer to that question is also yes but with a little insight you can determine when to apply the resources to making your site more mobile friendly.

Mobile Devices - Google Analytics

Okay, great, Google Analytics has lots of helpful reports but when are you ever going to look at them?  Unfortunately most site operators do not have an intimate knowledge of their site’s performance.  I haven’t done the actually analysis but my intuition tells me that 9 out of every 10 companies I deal with are not getting Google Analytics reports automatically emailed to them.   Click a button, enter your email address and Google will email you the requested report every month.  It’s really that easy.  Getting weekly reports can lead to report fatigue.  Who wants to look at the same report every week?  In addition to regular reports Google Analytics has a new feature that I think is indispensable.

Inside the new section of Google Analytics called Intelligence are tools that allow the site owner to create alerts for specific metrics.   Want to know if your visitor count spikes or drops?  Simple, create an alerts that let you know when visitors are 50% higher or lower today than they were yesterday.   Not all metrics are available via the alert mechanism but there are enough choices that you can build several reports to give you early warning of problems or successes your site is experiencing.

Google Analytics Alerts

The types of reports I’ve presented here have been available in sophisticated and expensive analytics packages for a long time.  It’s amazing to me that Google offers this service for free.  The price is definitely right.   As with any tool it’s not always easy to master the tool such that you get maximum value.   I use Google Analytics everyday.  I can help you gain more insight into your site’s performance.

Please share this article if you find it helpful.  Be sure and check out my other Google Analytics presentation.