If you have a website, you likely measure statistics by collecting visitors’ data to have a clue of how your website works, if your strategy is doing well, who are your visitors, where they come from, and other interesting things you can learn to improve your presence online. Google Analytics is one of the most used stats tracker, because it is free, easy to implement and… it is made by Google.
If you are not an expert, however, some terms may sound new to you and you end looking at a lot of data and graphics without knowing what to make of them, so the purpose of this post is explaining the meaning and the role of some basic metrics you see when using Google Analytics.
Obviously, we are not going to talk about visits and unique visitors, as we are pretty sure you already know what they could be, but we will talk about referrals, bounce rate, and conversions.
Where do your visitors come from? No, we do not mean their geographical provenience, which is something you could see, anyway, but you likely know already. Referrals means you can see what website your visitors were visiting before landing on yours by clicking on a link.
Referrals are important because they are divided in four categories:
- Direct traffic: people who access to your website by typing the URL or from their bookmarks;
- Referrals traffic: people who access to your website by clicking a link on another website;
- Social referrals: people who access to your website by clicking a link on a social network;
- Search referrals: people who access to your website by clicking a link on Google.
The most interesting thing about the last category is that if you connect your Google Analytics account to your search console account, you can access to deeper data, like the queries that led users to click your website and if they were paid or organic results, which could also be good indications for an AdWords campaign.
Bouncing on a website means you open a page, look at it for a few seconds, then leave it either by clicking on a link or closing the window, or also leaving the tab open and inactive for a very long time.
Having a high bounce rate is quite a problem, because it means the average visitor only stops for a few seconds on your website and then, not finding anything interesting, they just leave. However, a high bounce rate is particularly frequent on blogs, where visitors leave the website after reading the post of their interest.
There are a few tricks you can apply to improve your bounce rate:
- More internal links: put the appropriate links in your post to other blog posts, so they remain on your website for longer and read more of your valuable content;
- At the bottom of the main content, put some related links, so visitors will be motivated to get more information;
- Use breadcrumbs, so your visitors can access to various levels of your website’s navigation tree, browsing more content;
- Write longer content, so they spend more time on every page.
What is a conversion? A conversion is when a visit turns into a lead or a sale or whatever you want to achieve with your website. Google Analytics lets you configure goals to achieve (to convert).
Here is an example: you have a landing page with an opt-in form for your newsletter. When a user opts in, they view a thank you page. The opt-in, in this case, marks a conversion. Now, let’s say you want to achieve a hundred conversions in a month, just go on Google Analytics and set a hundred views in a month of the thank you page as a goal. The principle is very straightforward: if a user views the thank you page, it means they subscribed to your newsletter, so they were converted.
What? You don’t have a thank you page? Well, it’s time to get one!