What’s so great about Google Analytics?
First of all, it’s free! You read that right, you don’t have to pay a thing for this software. Many competitors to Google’s analytical software require some form of payment, like Adobe’s SiteCatalyst. Of course, Google does recommend paying to upgrade to the more refined version of Google Analytics if your site has around 10 million visitors per month.
Now that you’re aware that this software is free, there’s one more thing. For whatever reason, people are generally hesitant to use anything involving raw data. There’s this whole idea that if you don’t have a full time data analyst working for you, there’s no way you could properly use this software. Fortunately, Google Analytics is designed to be interpreted by the layman and can be read easily by anyone with a rough knowledge of digital marketing principles. In the small snippet of Google Analytics data output above, any user can easily read and interpret the numbers and their meanings through visuals and labels.
But what does Google Analytics actually do?
Most importantly, Google Analytics tells us a story. This story is of upmost importance because it is the story of your potential customers and your current customers. Okay, prepare for some bullet point action. This story reveals data mines on:
- Individual user visit frequency
- What lead your users to you
- Exactly what they did whilst on your site
- What they’re doing, as it is happening
- Many useful numbers like bounce rate (proportion of people who didn’t click anything and left)
- All kinds of data about who your user is, like their location, sex, and age
- Provides data on which pages on your site are underperforming
But what does this story have to do with anything? Optimization. Many companies have been successfully utilizing these numbers for quite a few years now in order to tailor themselves to what the customer actually wants, instead of what they think the customer wants.
One statistics that companies have noticed is especially useful, is the origin of your audience. Not the geographic origin, but their online activity that lead them to you. This is where Search Engine Optimization truly comes into play. This information can get so detailed that Google can tell you each website that the user visited before finding you and the type of search: organic, direct, referral, and social.
Organic simply means your website was found through a search engine. Direct is similarly intuitive, it is when a user types your website address directly into the search bar without having any previous activity. Keep in mind though, this statistic can be ambiguous as Google tends to dump any search source that it cannot trace properly into the direct search traffic data.
Referral search sources were referred to your website when the user clicked a link elsewhere that lead to you. This figure has potential to be a bit vague as these clickable links include sites like Google News, which shows up in Google search results. Of course, social is simply the data associated with how many people arrive on your website through “social” platforms. Additionally, you can view what pages are the most popular on these sites.
Google Analytics doesn’t stop there though
As if this information wasn’t already invaluable, Google Analytics allows you to see data on each individual page of your website. This data is comprised of bounce rates, unique views, average time spent on page, entrances, site speed, and exit percentage. With these statistics combined, it really is telling to see if there are multiple pages on your website that are driving traffic away. Specifically, the exit percentage can tell you how many people decided to leave your site on one specific page. If this number spikes on one page, it is safe to say there is something significant going on with that page that could use changing.
If you aren’t employing this free tool, you may want to seriously consider it. Google Analytics offers much more than a bunch of raw data, it give you the ability to know your customer’s story. If you’re not convinced about Google Analytics and are looking for other options, feel free to browse our listing of top competitors here: 7 Best Web Analytics Tools For Small Businesses