An Introduction to Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tracking software that can be used to monitor your visitors. It display the data for a variety of different metrics in an easy to use interface. This data can be used to see how users have found your website. You can also see what keywords they used and what platform referred them to your website and much more!

You may be thinking to yourself – why should I care how many people visit my website? And why should I bother to keep track of this? Taking the time to track and analyse the data from Google Analytics could prove to be invaluable. By choosing to track your site’s Google Analytics data you stand a much higher chance of consistently keeping up with or beating your competitors. The key point is that Google Analytics gives you the power to ascertain what is performing well and what isn’t. You’ll be able to clearly see what your customer or audience want, and what areas of your website you should focus your energies and attention to.

It’s worth noting that Google Analytics can be integrated into multiple systems and frameworks. However for the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the integration of Google Analytics with the WordPress CMS.

How can I get Google Analytics tracking on my WordPress website?

Google Analytics can be installed own your site in a number of ways. You can either use the script which needs to be inserted into the header of your website. This script is provided to you when you set-up your Google Analytics Account.

Alternatively you can use a WordPress plugin which will take you through a step-by step process of connecting your WordPress website to your Google Analytics account. One plugin we often use is called Monster Insights. This plugin has the benefit of showing you a summary of your website traffic from your WordPress Dashboard. This summary covers the previous 30 day period. If you wish to view further historical data, then you’ll need to either upgrade this plugin to the premium version, or go directly to your Google Analytics account. We personally haven’t felt the need to update for this extra data. We’re more than happy to go directly to Google Analytics whenever we need to view more than 30 days worth of data.

How accurate is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is way ahead of all other website tracking/monitoring tools. However we do advise caution when reviewing the data displayed. Depending on how much traffic your website gets, you could also be receiving fake data.

What this means is that your Google Analytics account had been pinged by a fake bot. This bot has not visited your website, however the ping will count as a view or referral in your GA account.

Google are constantly working to improve the security of the data to ensure this is as transparent and accurate as possible. But it’s worth bearing in mind if you get significantly skewed data that seems to come out of the blue. This increase in traffic can be legitimate, but it’s always good to be on alert! If you think that you are receiving false bot data in your Google Analytics traffic summary then get in touch! We can assess your situation and if needed, add an IP blacklist for known spam/bot IP addresses. This will help to ensure your Google Analytics data is as legitimate as possible.

The ‘false’ traffic or data that may have sprung up in your Google Analytics account, will in no way affect your site ranking or your position in Google or other search engines. This will just affect the data displayed in your Google Analytics Account.

Below we break down some of the key components you may have come across when reviewing your Google Analytics data. Both from the Dashboard Widget or directly within your Google Analytics Account.

‘Users’ explained

Users are the number of people that visit your website whether ‘new’ or ‘returning’ users. This figure needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as the total number is based on sometimes fairly inaccurate information. For example a first visit to your website will mean that Google Analytics place an ID code within a cookie on the user’s device/browser. On the user’s second visit this code is detected and so considers this user a ‘returning’ user not counting them as a new user. However, a user can use a different browser, or a different device which means they are counted as a ‘new’ user since the code input in the cookie on the old device/browser will not be detected.

Additionally, if a user clears their site cookies and data within their browser after visiting a set of websites then when returning to those sites they will, again, be considered a ‘new’ user. It’s certainly worth taking this statistic as a rough indication NOT a totally accurate calculation!

What do ‘Sessions’ include in Analytics?

This number indicates the total number of user visits to your website. This statistic was once referred to as simply ‘Visits’ by Google Analytics. A ‘session’ for a user can include multiple page or post visits, more than 1 user action/interaction such as completing a form, clicking a Call to Action button or purchasing a product. It is important not to confuse this with ‘Users’. The reason being is because 1 individual user can visit your website on 4 different occasions. That means there has been 4 sessions from that 1 user. Sessions combine unique and returning visitors to make the total number of Sessions.

An insight to ‘Pageviews’

This part of analytical data more or less speaks for itself. This is the total number of Pageviews within a given period. This could be 10 page visits from 1 user, 50 from another and 20 from 2 more users – totalling 100 Pageviews. The Pageview count is triggered on page load or page reload.

How is ‘Average Session Duration’ calculated?

This one is also very self explanatory, this statistic comes from all session duration lengths divided by the the total number of sessions. If all session lengths in a given period add up to 45 minutes and there were 30 sessions, then the Average Session Duration would be 1 minute 30 seconds.

45 ÷ 30 = 1.5

What does ‘Bounce Rate’ mean?

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that land on one of your website pages and do not complete an action. An action can be anything from clicking a link to another page, filling in a contact form, clicking a button and so on.

Bounce rate is calculated by taking the total number of single-page visits and dividing it by the total number of site visits (Sessions). If 100 people visit your website in a 30 day period, and also in the same 30 day period you have 30 single-page visits then your bounce rate will be 30% for those 30 days.

30 ÷ 100 = 0.3

Things that can affect bounce rate are:

  • Poor loading speeds
  • Irrelevant information or content
  • Poorly written information
  • Broken pages or content
  • Poor layout

It’s hard to pin down exactly why a page has a low bounce rate without seeing the page. With some investigation you should be able to pick out some potential reasons why. For example a misleading page or post title could have a user frustrated at not finding the right information or answer. In conclusion:

  • Keep your content relevant and coherent
  • Ensure page layouts are clear and simple
  • Maintain obvious Call to Actions
  • Any answers to questions posed in the title need to be within your content

Furthermore, make regular checks on your pages to see how they are performing. You can make adjustments to your blog post or page to refine it over time.

Demographics and Interest

This section of Google Analytics allows you to see useful data with regards to your users behaviours and key Information. Here you can see the age group, gender and their interest based on their previous history. This data can be incredibly valuable and can be used to ensure your website is perfectly geared to targeting your desired audience.

Geo – (Languages / Location)

The Geo option can be accessed from within your Google Analytics account. This is an easy way to find out where your customers are located geographically. This is particularly useful if the nature of your business is located within a fixed area or proximity and you’re looking to focus on a customer/audience base within a fixed area or radius.

Technology (Browser & OS)

This option will show exactly what devices your users are using to access your website. With this data you can verify if your users are accessing your website via Desktop/Tablet or mobile devices. You can also get a breakdown of what browser they’re using, whether this is Chrome, Safari Edge or Firefox. This is a great tool to investigate user experience and ensure your website renders perfectly on the most popular operating browsers and operating systems.

Behaviour Flow

This is a unique metric allowing you to see how users are not only navigating through your site, but how deeply into your website they’ll delve before they leave. This is particularly useful if you’re operating a funnel system. Or if you’re managing an e-commerce shop and you’re not quite converting customers into a purchase. Using this tool will allow you to see exactly where your customers are dropping off.

Summary

We hope the above has given you a good overview of how Google Analytics works and how you can maximise the usage of this for your website/business improvements. If you need assistance with using Google Analytics on your website, whether this is the installation, or training. Then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!.

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