Most Important Parts to Google Analytics – How to Read Your Analytics in 19 Minutes

By | June 6, 2023

In their infinite wisdom and generosity, Google provides us with their Analytics tool for free without any strings. Being a measurement junkie, I get manic with the depth of the detail Google Analytics provides me about the behavior of my clients’ web users. And with clients where it’s hard to get real life numbers about inquires, conversions, and level of interest, the preciseness of their web metrics is better than cake and ice cream. But as I noticed some of my coaching clients appearing comatose after the 5th hour of reviewing their analytics, I had to develop a list of what the most important measurements were with this tool.

To reap the rewards of the analytics you must first install it. So follow their instructions (again magnanimously provided for free) or pass it on to your IT folks. Here’s an important tip: make sure that this code appears on every single page of the website, and remember to add the code for all new pages. About a month ago, I nearly offed myself when I saw a bounce rate of 70% on one of my clients. After double checking that the home page didn’t say something like “GO AWAY NOW”, I checked on the analytics coding and found nearly 60% of the pages did not have this code. Once you are sure the code is in place, sit back and let analytics go to work. I like to think of Google Analytics as an entire team of little statisticians running around behind the scenes on your website testing and measuring everything….right down to little white lab jackets and little clipboards. So at 4:15 am one of these statisticians is observing a Norwegian Fisherman reading your website, spending an amazing 17 minutes on there.

And at the same time, another statistician is observing the behavior of Northern New York reader who left your page right at the shopping cart section. Thousands and thousands of the statisticians at work every single minute of the day. Maybe 30 days after you have set the folks in the white lab coats to work, check back on your Analytics Report. Start by following the Analytics tutorial just so you are familiar with the overall functioning but don’t get overwhelmed for the millions of measurements you can check on. Instead, consider following the same outline I use for my clients during a 19 Minute Analytics Review.

1. Under the Visitors Section/Overview- click on the Map overlay. It will give you a good feel of the geographic region where you are attracting visitors.

2. Under the Visitors Section/Overview- click on New versus Returning Visitors. Are you burning through new leads? Do they come once and never return? How often would you like folks to return? Are you happy with the amount of new visitors?

3. Length of Visit/Time Spent on Sight. It should always be up, and the longer the better. An average time on site that is a matter of seconds or is decreasing tells you objectively that people are not compelled enough to stick around longer. You can fix that with some richer more meaningful copy or preventing the dreaded dead ends.

4. Under the Visitors Section/Overview-check here for % of new visits being up or down. Declining new visitors is a clue to work on your SEO either organically for paid. Just make sure to do something to fix this.

5. Visitor Loyalty/Visitor Recency-one of my favorites. If you are selling a product/service that has a longer buying cycle, this number which counts “sessions” not visits, should be increasing. If it is, congrats- your prospects keep coming back to learn more and educate themselves. If this is declining, consider what kind of meaningful sales copy you can add. A kind of “Big Brother” function gives you insight into the time lapse between your prospects- a great tool to add to your sales psychology/how customers buy collection.

6. Depth of Visit is good to measure to see how “deep” into your site folks are going. I coach people to think of their websites as great big mansions. So it’s unrealistic to expect every visitor to go the East Wing, 4th Floor, 5th bedroom on the left to the closet, but we do want to see SOME people going to that extreme, especially if you are selling a higher $ item. This tells us that people are gobbling up everything you can throw at them about your product.

7. Referring Sources, which appears under Traffic Sources/Direct Traffic tells us an overview of how many pages and how many visitors we had. Once you have been using Google Analytics for 60 days, you can start comparing one time period to another. Don’t waste time just looking at jut one time period of visits and pages; instead compare one time period to another and observe the trends.

8. Also in the section of the report, compare the time on site to a previous time period. It should be climbing but if it’s flat or declining- you have a dull maybe even stupid website.

9. The Keyword section can save you a bunch of money. Rather than paying one of those shady SEO companies a boat load of money to find your keywords, you can do it yourself in this section of the analytics report (another reason we say, “Thank You Google.”) Under Traffic Sources/Direct Resources click on the keywords and you can see what words people used to find you site. Now c’mon, is that not the coolest thing? Ever? I have to practically take nerve pills when I see this because I get so excited. Play around with the keywords presented to you to sort them from high to low. PAY ATTENTION TO THIS! This is gold for us as we can use this to create our Ad Sense campaigns as well as beef up the copy around these keywords. Also have your web genius is make sure that these keywords appear in the title pages for even better search results.

10. Which Pages are Most Popular? Go to Content, then Overview, then over on the right -click on the Entrance Path. This is a good way to show how banner ads, links or other referring sources are doing dumping visitors into your site.

11. The Site Overlay isn’t earth shattering- the better data comes from the Entrance Page Report- but it’s pretty cool to look at for 30 seconds.

12. Top Content/High Bounces is a really fast check to see which pages have the highest bounce rate. It could be that readers are simply “done” but including a couple of links to another section of the website is an easy fix.

13. Top Content/High Exit Rates is the second cousin to High Bounce Rates. These are the pages that need your attention and work. I coach folks to beef up the content of their pages by answering my 4 Ultimate Questions. If the bounce rate horrifies you, check with your developer to ensure these pages have the required Google Analytics code. If you have a really good page- that its loaded with rich content and you are convinced should be a crowd pleaser but is not showing on your top content, consider optimizing it separately, changing its position on the site, or adding some internal links pointing to it.

Consistency is the key. I would much rather clients review their analytics regularly at these bite size 19 minute intervals than putting it off because they can’t find the 2 hours they feel they need to review it. May you experience as much unbridled joy as I have in the exciting world of reviewing your analytics.