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The 7 Google Analytics Reports You Need to Know

According to Marketing Land, almost 70% of the top 10,000 websites in the world are assessing the performance of their sites using Google Analytics, and 53% of all websites are using the data analysis tool—that’s more than 10 times the number using the next most popular analytics package (Yandex Metrics).

There’s a good reason:  Google Analytics is a remarkably flexible, accurate and reliable data source, one that gives marketers key metrics about everything from mobile performance to website traffic sources, content efficiency, visitor sources, and bounce rate.  And, as if that weren’t enough, it’s free.

Why Is Google Analytics So Popular?

Like any analytics platform, Google Analytics has its own learning curve, but it’s relatively user-friendly.  Users can find a wealth of actionable data without special training.  This is because Google provides outstanding support that starts with “Google Analytics for Beginners” and extends to far more advanced reports for analytics pros.

Among the benefits of Google Analytics are the following:

  1. It collects data automatically: all that’s required of new users is inserting a few lines of javascript code in the header of your website. This can be done using your WordPress customization or you can ask your web developer to do this for you.  From that point, Google Analytics begins automatically collecting and organizing marketing data.
  2. It’s customizable: Google Analytics makes it easy to create customized reports in addition to its wealth of standard reports.  There are also a wealth of Analytics templates.
  3. It can be easily integrated with other tools and platforms: users can work equally well with Google Analytics on desktops and mobile devices, for example.  In addition, it integrates powerfully with Google AdWords to empower PPC ad campaigns.
  4. It provides valuable insights about visitor activity on your website: Google Analytics provides robust marketing data regarding the ways in which visitors navigate around your website, enabling changes that help marketers achieve their chief marketing objectives.
  5. It’s free: the adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” doesn’t apply to Google Analytics.  Google provides this powerful marketing and data analysis tool completely free of charge.
  6. It’s flexible: You can create different views and test filters and types of reports. Learn more about Views.

In summary, as Medium notes:

“Google Analytics is one of the most popular digital analytics software.  It is Google’s free web analytics service that allows you to analyze in-depth detail about the visitors on your website.  It provides valuable insights that can help you to shape the success strategy of your business.”

It’s Only as Good as You Make It

Of course, there’s little point to installing Google Analytics on your system if you don’t use it, or if you don’t learn the many ways in which it can provide you with valuable marketing data.  The good news is that the more you use Google Analytics, the more powerful it becomes, providing you with ever more detailed, nuanced and actionable marketing insight.

Although every business is different and each will define which analytics reports are most valuable, in general, some reports are more important than others.  That said, below are 7 Google Analytics Reports every marketer should be using.

Important Terms

This is by no means an exhaustive list of terms of Google Analytics terms but I do mention some of these in this article.

Sessions. A session is a group of user interactions with your website that takes place within a given time frame.

Impressions. The number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user, not including paid Google  Ads search impressions.

Clicks. The number of clicks on your website URL from a Google search page. For the Queries report, this would not include paid ad clicks.

Bounce Rate. “Bounce rate percentages are all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request. These single-page sessions have a session duration of 0 seconds since there are no subsequent hits after the first one.”

Average Time On Page. “Average session duration is: total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions.”

Exit %. Exit Rate is the percentage that was the last in the session.

Pageviews. Pageviews represent each individual time a page on your website is loaded by a User.

7 Google Analytics Reports

1.  The Mobile Performance Report

Spoiler alert:  if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, you’re probably losing a lot of business.  More than half of all internet searches are now conducted on mobile devices (and more than 30% of all e-commerce now occurs on them)—if your site doesn’t work on these devices, visitors are likely to abandon it in droves.

The mobile performance report will tell you what kind of experience mobile visitors have on your site.  It will also show what mobile devices they’re using to access your site and which pages are problematic for them.  The report, in other words, will tell you what’s working, and what isn’t, on the mobile version of your site, and where you need to make improvements.

mobile report analytics report

You can see that there were 150 mobile users that used Google and 69 that typed in the URL (direct).

mobile report analytics report

This analytics report shows you the various browsers and which device.

2.  The Website Traffic Acquisition Report

It’s critically important to know what are sending visitors to your site.  If for example, you’re running PPC campaigns, you’ll want to know how many people are clicking on your ads, how many of them completed desired actions (like filling our contact forms on landing pages), and how many new leads you’re generating.  The traffic acquisition report will also tell you how many visitors are from organic sources, and how many are referrals from other websites.

traffic aquisition analytics report

Overview report showing you where each session started; organic search, directly typing in your domain, a referral from another website, other (private sessions), display advertising, social media, and paid search like Adwords.

3.  The Content Efficiency Report

You’ve heard it before—content is king.  Generating and effectively distributing compelling content is increasingly the linchpin of effective inbound marketing campaigns, but in order for content marketing campaigns to work, you need to know how well each piece of content is performing.

The content efficiency report will tell you that, and more.  You’ll learn which content most engages site visitors, what types of content your audience likes most and which has the highest conversion rates.

It’s best to look at Bounce and Average Time On Site together for a better understanding.

The problem is that these numbers are not exact. For ‘Average Time On Page,’ Google Analytics only tracks takes into account those that don’t exit but keeps counting your time on a page regardless of whether the browser window is in a hidden or visible tab. Google cannot track a user once they close the tab or browser.

For example, if you come to a blog post, read the entire thing, then feel you’ve learned enough and close the tab, Google counts this as a bounce.

The report below shows average time on each page and bounce rate. So the top entry has an average time on the website of 22 minutes and a bounce rate of 33%. That pretty good! But exits are at 95%. meaning 95% of these visitors, it was their last session. The bounce rate shows that 67% stayed on the web site and visited another page.

Then for the second entry, it drops to 1:34 minutes and 69% bounce rate. So only 31% visited other pages but the Exit Rate drops to 65 %.

Learn more about Bounce Rate versus Exit %.

You can see in this report the source and medium of high-value content. The second entry shows a direct entry (meaning the entered the domain into the browser address bar) and an organic search. The fourth shows a LinkedIn source and social media.

google analytics content efficiency by device

4.  The Keyword Analysis Report

This report has become a bit more daunting since Google began encrypting some keywords to protect user’s privacy, but there’s still a wealth of data that remains unencrypted.  You can find out which keywords are most important for your business, which help you achieve key marketing objectives, and which are underperforming.

The best way to use this tool is to view it as a way to gain a general overview of your keyword performance and be a helpful addition to your SEO process.

To view your Search Query, go to Acquisition | Search Console | Queries. This is where you can find a breakdown of all the keywords driving traffic to your site. You’ll need to make sure you’ve tied your Analytics to your Google Webmaster account.

More ideas from WordTracker on using Google Analytics for SEO.

keyword analytics report

5.  The New and Returning Visitors Report

Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors to your site are there for the first time, and how many have been there before.  Generally, you’ll want a larger percentage to be returning visitors, because people who’ve been to your site before are usually more engaged, visit more pages, download more content and are more likely to become customers.

If on the other hand, yours is a lead generation campaign, you might want to see a higher number of new visitors, those who will fill the top of your sales funnel.

new vs returning analytics report

6.  The Search Console Landing Pages Report

To most, a landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. They are single-focused pages that help conversions. In your Google Analytics reports, a landing page is the entry point to your website.

The point is, you need to know where visitors are entering your site.  Is it the home page or some are pages to which you’ve specifically optimized?  The landing pages report will tell you this, letting you make adjustments that will make your marketing campaigns more effective.

To find the Landing Pages Report navigate to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.

With this report, you’ll see the most popular landing pages on your website, arranged by a number of visitors that have landed on each page over the specified time period.

You can answer questions like, what pages are introduction pages or how well a landing page is performing or which blog posts are driving the most traffic.  
landing pages analytics report

7.  The Bounce Rate Report

Your bounce rate refers to the percentage of site visitors who abandon your site after visiting just one page—those who visit more than one page and leave are said on the other hand to “exit” your site.  In general, what this tells you is which pages on your site are working, and which aren’t.  For example, a lead generation landing page that has a high bounce rate tells you that something on that page is turning off prospective customers.

google analytics bounce rate

Conclusion

Tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns—and of your website—is the key to smart marketing.  You need to continually measure how well each is performing to enable continual improvement that will help you achieve your primary marketing objectives.  Analytics is central to that task—but it can be confusing, even when purveyors like Google work hard to make it as simple as possible.  Your best bet is to partner with a competent marketing agency that can answer your questions and give you the advice and guidance you need.

To learn more about the ways our website and digital marketing services will help you reach your marketing goals—and help your business grow—contact us today.

Christina Hawkins

Since 1999, Christina has been designing and building exceptional websites. With many years of experience in creating thousands of websites, she understands the need for continuing education in her field and, therefore, is constantly learning and teaching others about internet marketing and digital processes. Christina is known for her highly-collaborative methods that help her realize the vision each customer has to successfully create engaging content to captivate targeted audiences across multiple platforms. Christina has honed her digital marketing and graphic design skills so that she can help B2B industries get their message out to their target audience in the right way. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina serves as a coach and mentor with WPElevation to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is also a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup.

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