10 Reports to Look at in Google Analytics
The journey of exploring your digital analytics data needs to start with clear understanding what is digital tracking, what are important KPIs to track for your business, and how this data can be accessed in Google Analytics interface.
Don't get caught in reading hundred of blogs telling you that these metric "A" and "B" are the most important metrics to look at, or most important reports to analyze. Metrics and reports mentioned in the article might apply for that specific use case, but you need to be careful in understanding how and what metrics apply to your business. At the end of the day analyzing none important metrics is not much better than having no metrics at all.
What is digital tracking
The process of tracking user behaviour on the site is accomplished by Website Tracking platforms. There is a big number of tools that can do website tracking, like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Mixpanel, Hotjar, Kissmetrics and so on. (Check our preferred platforms list in "the tack". I won't go into details about how to implement web tracking on your site, but ensure you have correct codeblock snippet in thesection of each of the pages of your site. There is a handy google tool to verify Google Analytics tags on the pages: https://get.google.com/tagassistant/.
Web analytics tracking works by sending data back to Google Analytics server on every interaction visitor performs on the site, like page views, button clicks, form submissions. We would also advice to track your conversion events, so it is possible to calculate conversion rate for different traffic sources, and optimize campaigns for better ROI. We specialize in implementation of precise event tracking for the events that matter in your business.
Once data is delivered and stored on the Google Analytics server, it is processed to create reports and dashboards.
It is important to remember, not all reports are equal and majority of reports can be categorized into 3 groups: Traffic Overview, Visitor Acquisition, and Events and Goals.
These are the reports that provide an overall overview of traffic volume to your site, page visits, top events happening. They offer an eagle eye view into health of traffic of your site. You will be able to quickly answer questions like:
- Is my site traffic growing month over month?
- What where the top events happening in the last week?
- What was the ratio of mobile users to desktop users to my site?
Understanding performance of different traffic sources, that drive to your site is the job of "Visitor Acquisition" reports. Reports in this group can tell you effectiveness of your paid or email campaigns, status of your SEO performance. These are the questions for this group reports:
- How effective was our last week's email campaign?
- Is SEO work we are doing proving to be effective?
Events and Goals
Page interactions is another aspect of website tracking. Depending on the site structure, and business it is important to understand what makes visitors stay on pages and convert. A lot of times it's interactions with buttons, forms, insurance calculators (for insurance pages) and so on. Every interaction that brings visitor one step closer to conversion should be tracked and analyzed. Here are some questions that can be answered with these reports:
- What were the top 10 events happening on our site last month?
- How many purchases were there from blog section of the site?
- Which traffic source has highest conversion rate?
Reports to look at
Site Content All Pages
"All pages" report is a good starting point for all analysis. Looking at the trending performance of the pages helps you quickly get a bearing on what to explore next. The report will help you get insights into possible problems on pages, seasonality of visitors that you might need to be prepared for, or simply can help you measure traffic growth month over month. Pay attention to difference in metrics performance like Bounce Rate and Avg. Time on Page between pages of the site. Consider investigating how each page influences your visitors, and whether it helps with the final conversion.
Landing and Exit pages
Understanding starting and final pages of visitor's journey is essential. When visitor starts their journey on a specific page, you can make an assumption about what they were looking for, or which campaign did they land from. Combine number of landing page views with bounce rate metric, and it will give you a hint on how effective these specific landing pages are at capturing visitors attention. Lower bounce rate - possible higher conversion rate down the flow.
Exit pages on the other hand could indicate problem portions of the site, that drive visitors away. Analyzing top 5 exit pages might help understand negative experience visitors are having with the site.
Visitors navigate through pages on your site based on their previous experiences with similar sites, and based on navigation hints provided. Sometimes you will find that the flow visitors go through is not the one designed initially. Understanding why that is happening, and further optimizing pages to direct traffic as required will help improve conversion rates.
Keep an eye on page load speeds. It is important to keep page load times low. This will not only improve visitor experience on the pages, but will also help with SEO. Search engines like google will always rank fast loading pages higher. Sometimes a wordpress plugin update or a rouge JS library can cause change in the load times of the pages. This report allows to keep an eye on this important metric.
It is important to drive traffic to the site, to expose more people to your awesome product. But not all channels drive the same qualified traffic, or at the same rate. Sometimes you can be getting lots of paid clicks and eyes to the site, but email campaigns actually drive better converting traffic. Keep an eye on the channels report to understand what is the mix of the traffic you are getting, and cater your content to the audience.
Pay especial attention to conversions by channel. This metric will help you identify traffic with high ROI, which will make your campaign spending more efficient.
Referrals report is like a more detailed version of Channels report. It will show you where visitors are coming from by domain. It can be very valuable if you are starting to build backlinks that drive to your site. Comparing traffic change and paying attention to new domains that appear in this report will help in understanding how effective other sites at driving visitors to your pages.
When site's traffic heavily depends on social referrals, do not skip "Social - Network Referrals" report. Report will help you measure impact of different networks, and will help you understand which social networks closely match your intended audience.
Event in simple words is "interaction". Who are the visitors and what they do on the site is critical in building a visitor portrait. Visitors engage with the site through events like email subscriptions, purchases, form interactions and so on. Defining which events drive KPI conversions is important. Tagging interactions with events is not a trivial task and should be done carefully. Make sure events are not double firing, or firing when should not. In our experience, cleaning up and setting correct event tracking is the first thing we do for our clients. Without accurate data, there will be no accurate insights.
Look at the top events happening on your pages, and correlate them with goal conversions. This way you will understand which events push visitors one step closer to completing a conversion.
Visitors not only influenced by pages, but also events on said pages. Events flow report provides information about most common path of events happening on your site. Analyze this report and try to understand what events precede KPI conversion. It is possible before converting, visitors were influenced by on page events!
Goals, or KPIs is the Google's way of identifying the most important events on your site. Before you will be able to see any goals happening in this report, additional settings adjustments will need to be done in the admin section of Google Analytics. You can configure a range of interactions to be considered goals. If you need help in configuring and identifying goals we are always here to support your business on analytics front.
Remember digging into reports without understanding what you are trying to achieve is not the best course of action. Take a sit back, analyze and understand what is essential in tracking for your site, and use this guide to answer the questions you are looking answers for.
Looking for help to set up all of the reports, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org