I don’t use every function in my iPhone, and I bet you don’t either. I’m still amazed that I can download an app with the approval of my fingerprint instead of entering a password! Most smartphones do far more than we’ll ever need from them. We know how to do what we need to do, and that’s ok. That’s how it should be with Google Analytics too. No overwhelm, no nightmares, just convenience and ease.
Would you believe Google Analytics can be as helpful (and easy!) as your trusty smartphone?
Google Analytics can seem hard. Really hard. It’s overwhelming. It’s confusing. It can feel like you need a decoder ring to try to figure it out. The problem is that for most small business owners, it’s too much information. It’s so excessive that it’s easier to ignore it all.
Do you really need to review your website’s Cohort Analysis report or the Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no.
Is it important to know which service provider networks your website visitors are on? No, not unless you’re unhappy with your current internet provider and looking for suggestions of where to switch to yourself.
Google Analytics gives online marketers a tremendous amount of valuable information. Small business owners don’t necessarily need the same level of information as online marketers though.
For small businesses, I look at just 10 basic metrics. These metrics give small business owners, like you, a good understanding of how your website is performing. Imagine knowing, after reviewing a report for just a few minutes, if your website is attracting new, potential customers, or returning customers, if your time spent on social media is effective, or if people land on your website and exit immediately.
Understanding your analytics is real gold for small businesses. This is what can help you grow.
Unfortunately, not all of these 10 metrics are shown in Google's default report. But don't worry, we've got you covered with a custom Google Analytics report. Keep reading to learn all about it!
10 Simple Metrics to FINALLY Understand Your Google Analytics Report
- Total Users
This number is the total number of visitors to your site during the period you've chosen to review. (To see or adjust the time period, look in the upper right corner of Google Analytics) If you're reviewing your report to monitor progress, you'll likely want to review each month, so change the dates to the previous month. Google used to call this metric "unique visitors." The only problem is that it's impossible to track visitors just once if they're coming to the site multiple times in different browsers or devices. So while this number is likely somewhat inflated, it's the best number for most small businesses to use.
- Users Per Day
This is actually the same number as the last one, but it shows you how many users your site receives on each day of the time period.This might be overkill for some business owners but it helps to see what's going on with your traffic. Did your website tank? Did you have a webinar? Were you mentioned on Twitter by an influencer? It's valuable to see how these circumstances affect your website traffic. Look for spikes or sharp declines.
- New/Returning Users
Pretty self-explanatory, this is the percentage of users who are new compared to returning. Both are great!
Your new visitors represent potential leads & new customers. We want that number to be high. On the other hand, a returning visitor is often an engaged visitor, which is a good sign.
- Average Session Duration
The average amount of time visitors are spending on your site. Are your visitors hanging out for a while or leaving as fast as they came? The higher this number is, the better. However, don't be alarmed if it's a low number. That's common.
- Average Number of Pages
This is the average number of pages people visit on your site before exiting. Ideally, people aren't visiting one page and exiting. We want them to mingle, to meander through multiple pages on your website.
- Traffic Sources
This is a list of where your website traffic came from. Both organic and direct traffic will be listed, and the rest will be referral links. Unfortunately, unless it's addressed, you'll likely see some spam referrals listed here.
- Type of Traffic
Referral, organic & direct are the most common for small businesses. Direct is fairly obvious, it’s when visitors come directly to your website. Organic traffic is the traffic that comes to your site after they've searched for keywords and have then clicked onto your site through the organic search results, not the paid ads. Referral traffic is traffic that comes to your site from clicking on a link from outside of your website.
- Social Referrals
This section tells you the number of referrals your website receives from social networks. Although the total social referrals are included in the Type of Traffic metric, it's valuable to know which social networks are driving traffic to your site and how they compare to each other. If you're a busy entrepreneur (and what entrepreneur isn't busy!), I'd suggest focusing on your social efforts on the network that's giving you the best results.
- Most Popular Content
The pages and/or blog posts that have received the most visits. Check out what content is attracting the most attention. Notice a pattern with certain blog topics? Write more of what's popular!
A breakdown of website visitors by the device they're using to visit your site - mobile, desktop, or tablet. Most businesses (but not ALL!) get a majority of their traffic from mobile users. If that's the case for your business, be sure you're reviewing your website on mobile on a regular basis to ensure your website visitors are seeing the website as you want them to.
That's it! The only 10 metrics that most small businesses need to focus on and put to good use.
By the way, our SEO clients get a custom dashboard with these metrics set up in their Google Analytics account. Then, the report is automatically emailed on the 1st of every month. Need help with your website's performance in the search results? We can help with powerful digital marketing.