The challenge in digital marketing of any variety has always been to have the right data to make good decisions. Most of us don’t have that problem anymore. In fact the rate we’re acquiring data is accelerating on a frankly ridiculous trajectory. If Mashable is to be believed, the world’s information is doubling every two years.
Every two years we record more data than the rest of human history and in two years’ time it will have happened again. Web analytics is part of that data explosion. Over 10 million websites have Google Analytics installed.
Now the challenge we face is what we do with all this new data we have. We’ve never known more about how our sites perform, but how do we turn that into insight. And better yet how do we turn it into actionable insight
I want to share with you a number of instantly actionable insights you can take out of Google Analytics which will help you get insight rather than just data and hopefully help you make the right strategic decisions for your business.
What pages do I need to improve and why?
Many of the most recent Google updates have seemed to have impacted sites which, in their eyes ‘need to improve’ Whether or not Google makes use of analytics data doesn’t matter. We want to understand which pages of our sites are underperforming. It will enable us to make more from our sites without getting additional traffic.
We’re going to look at what keywords are sending traffic, what pages that traffic ends up on and what percentage of it bounces.
Bouncing is traffic which views just one page and then leaves. On most sites this is seen as a ‘measure of failure’ affiliate sites are often the exception of this rule where you want your traffic to move to a merchant site. For this example I’m going to assume that your goal is to get visitors to visit more than one page, which is often the case even if you’re looking to refer traffic to a merchant.
First select ‘Traffic Sources’ - this is one of the menu items on the left-hand side of the screen.
Next we select sources, as we click this section the arrow will move from pointing horizontally to vertically.
Now we do the same to select organic search, this will tell us the most popular keywords sending traffic from organic search.
This will give us a screen like the one showed in the screenshot below. We want to click the Secondary dimension drop-down menu, which allows us to view two dimensions at once.
Now we’re presented with a search box to find the secondary dimension we want to add to the report. Type in this box, “Landing Page” and you will see your top organic search keywords along with which page of the site they first visited on the site (as seen below)
My top keyword has a bounce rate of 35% which isn’t that exceptional for this site, but my second most popular key phrase has a bounce rate of 95% and is much more worrying. The search engines believe this is a page relevant for that term and rank it high enough to send traffic to my site, however my visitors are telling me a different story. 95% of page visitors never click on to another page of my site after visiting this page, a huge missed opportunity.
I need to revise the page and see what I can persuade visitors to take a more positive action after landing on this page of my site. I could revise my copy to better reflect the searchers intention or clearly sign post what pages they should visit next.
Which Mobile Devices is My Site Broken On?
2012 is the year of mobile, or was that last year? It doesn’t matter. More people will be visiting your site every day using mobile devices and the chances are site will be broken on some of them.
We’re going to look for mobile devices that have higher than expected bounce rates by looking at the performance metrics of individual mobile devices sending you traffic. Though you’d be correct in looking at conversion rates as well.
First we need to select Audience from the left-hand menu.
Next click mobile followed by Devices (as shown below). You’re shown what the most popular mobile devices are used to view on your site and how that traffic performs.
Expect a similar view to the one below.
Bounce rates are shown to be quite high suggesting mobile optimisation is required. However, the SonyEricsson Xperia is even higher than the majority of others, which I’d like to explore further. Interestingly it’s higher than even the bounce rates seen on similar Android devices.
Where should I be targeting my offline adverts?
I’m seeing more online businesses taking offline advertising seriously, but they’re running trials first to avoid having their fingers burned. You too can run a trial by restricting your experiment to a small geographic area where you know your website performs well. The data, available in Google Analytics, could enable you to better target outdoor, radio or local press advertising.
Again, we select audience from the left-hand menu.
Next we select Demographics followed by Location. The report shows which countries my traffic is coming from. The darker the green, the more visitors I have from that location.
However I’m more interested in which City my traffic is coming from not country. So I change my Primary Dimension from Country/Territory to City, which will tell me what city Google believes my traffic is from. It isn’t entirely accurate. My old flat in Brighton, according to GA, was located miles down the road in Redhill. But in aggregate it’s fairly accurate.
Now, based on the choice of performance visualisation options, I select the bar chart option as this will show me what proportion of overall traffic comes from each city.
Based on the table below I know that it might be sensible to trial my campaign in London, Brighton, Manchester and Leeds. The report typically also illuminates unexpected locations where your website is located. For example, in this case Sydney and New Delhi. I’ve had clients launch successful overseas businesses based to some extent on this type of insight.
Which Platform should I build a mobile App for first?
Depending on the stats you look at either Apple have an unassailable lead in the smart phone market or Android is on the ascendency. If I want to decide which platform I ought to develop an app for first it shouldn’t matter to me what the general trend is. I know which is most popular amongst my existing audience. We have access to this data through Google Analytics. We can make the decision based on hard data rather than gut feel.
Again I select audience on the left hand-menu.
Then Technology followed by Browser and OS, this can be handy as it rolls all Android devices in together.
Afterwards I need to switch my Primary Dimension from Browser to Operating System. My traffic will now be grouped based on operating system. If separates the different Apple devices, but combines all the different Android devices. It will also show you how many visitors you have from other mobile devices like Windows Mobile, Blackberry etc.
I now know 3% of my traffic comes from iOS compared to just 1% from Android. I will be able to make a much more informed decision on app development. In this case Apple devices comfortably out-performed other platforms and although this is common, it isn’t universal.
What blog post should I write next?
If I can understand what questions are currently sending traffic to our site without us actually answering that question we can identify a number of ‘low hanging fruit’ content ideas. If we can write content that better answers these questions we’ll be able to attract even more traffic on the key phrase.
To find this out we must first select Traffic Sources
This is followed by Sources, followed by Organic
You’ll see a screen like this one. Select the Secondary dimension. It allows you to look at two metrics simultaneously.
In the search box type, “Landing Page”. All the secondary metrics you could add to the report will be searched. Once complete, you’ll see top organic keywords and which page of the site they visited first.
I want to filter these search queries and associated landing pages based on questioning words like how, why, when, who etc.
A question makes a great blog post, often with decent search volume and in many cases low competition.
I am looking for results like this one where we have a question which the page doesn’t really answer, but still ranks. It’s an opportunity for a new blog post. For additional ‘brainy-points’, when your article is written edit the URL above and link to the new article.
There are so many strategic business decisions that can be aided by making use of the data you already have within Google Analytics. These are just five, but hopefully it has shown you the breadth and depth of the types of questions you can answer.