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Where to Start With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an important tool for your business, but can be daunting to first-timers. Here is some information to make this tool a bit more approachable.


Terms you need to know

  • Sessions The time that a viewer is actively on your website. If they exit and return, they have started a new session.
  • Av. Session Duration Average session length
  • Users The viewers that start a session (repeats are counted)
  • Unique Users How many individual people have visited the site. (Users without repeats counted)
  • New users Viewers that have started a session for the first time since starting Google Analytics.
  • Av. Time on Page Average time a user spent viewing a specific page or screen
  • Bounce Rate Single page sessions that last 0 seconds. This indicates an error with the site or page.
  • Pageviews Total pages viewed in a session (repeats are counted)
  • Unique pageviews How many sessions included a visit to a specific page. For example, you can view how many sessions included a visit to your homepage or products.

First, the home and customization pages can be confusing to a new user. Try starting with the Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior pages, as they will help you to better understand the others and contain the information most desired by site owners.

  • Audience: This page is all about your viewers. It lets you know how many people viewed and how frequently they view. Overview answers the big question every site owner has, How many people visited the site? It tells you how many users and sessions have occurred since installing Google Analytics. Google Analytics can only track what has happened since it was installed, so don’t expect it to produce any other data. Geo/ Location tells you where the viewers are located. This is not exact but will give you a general idea of where viewers come from. Mobile tells you if they viewed on a phone, tablet, or computer. If a high percentage of your viewers use mobile devices, make sure your site is completely compatible with the mobile setup.
  • Acquisition: This page lets you know where these viewers are coming from online, with the All Traffic/ Channels tab. Whether it be direct search (url), organic (google or other search engine), social media, referral (from another site), or from an email campaign, knowing what channel people come from is extremely important. This information lets you know which channels need to be built up to improve performance and which channels are the most effective ways to connect with viewers. For example, if your organic search is low on viewers, you know you need to boost your SEO. If social media and email campaigns produce a high amount of viewers, make sure your newest and most important information is presented there.
  • Behavior: This page lets you know what your viewers do once they get to your site. Behavior flow tells you the order in which they view your pages. Use this information to better your website. If people drop off at a certain page, make sure there isn’t an issue with the content. Site content/ All Pages tells you the frequency and duration of the views on each page. If someone keeps coming back to a certain page, you know they are interested. Also, if people leave after a few seconds on a page, make sure your website isn’t too slow and people aren’t getting impatient. This can be further monitored with Site Speed, which tells you your site’s loading time and how to decrease it. In today’s world, this is especially important as we have all visited a site that took too long and made us exit immediately. People expect fast speeds, so don’t lose viewers before they even view your content.  

Tip: Sometimes bots view websites that have just implemented Google Analytics. They will go away after a few months, so allow a period of time for your data to better represent your actual viewers. Also, for the first few months everyone is a new user, so a few months will allow better data about returning viewers.

This is just an overview of how to interpret what visitors are doing on your website.  Google Analytics is a robust platform, which can be complicated if you are viewing it for the first time.  We will be publishing a series of blog posts that will help you dive deeper into learning how to best maximize your website visitors’ experiences.  Stay tuned! Better yet, let us know if you have specific questions you would like us to answer.