What Google Analytics matter most? Learn the basics for any business

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Google Analytics is an incredibly useful, powerful way to analyze your site’s performance. A lot of it can seem daunting for a first-time user, and what you find valuable might depend on what type of site you run. A gambling operation may find some metrics more valuable, while an affiliate or a blog may value entirely different things.

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Here’s a collection of some Google Analytic metrics that everyone should find useful and important, and how you can take advantage of them.

Acquisition: The source of your traffic

Where are your visitors coming from? Are they coming direct to your landing page, or did they find you through an organic search (they Googled you)? Is your social effort working and driving views to your page, or are you getting referral traffic from other sites?

Knowing where you’re getting your visitors from, and how each group acts once they are on your site, is important no matter what kind of site you have. It can help inform what areas you may need to focus more on, like SEO or link building, and give you an idea of how traffic flows once it’s with you.

One of our favorite uses of the Acquisition tab is to explore the Search Console Queries that drive users to our site. This can offer invaluable information on what key terms we should stick to when they are performing well on Google searches.

Behavior: What pages are working and which aren’t

The Behavior tab can offer you a goldmine of information. And thanks to the wealth of information provided in it, different kinds of sites may find different benefits.

In the Site Content tab, you can discover which pages see the most pageviews or unique pageviews, and how many sessions pass through each. It offers important metrics for drumming up advertiser sales, such as Average time on page and Bounce Rate. It can even be configured to indicate a page value, based on a combination of all these metrics.

That page value could differ wildly depending on what kind of business you run. A sportsbook can just look to their balance sheet to understand how much value there is to each player, but they could also use a mix of acquisition metrics and page view metrics to put value on how much their social effort is working. On the other hand, for a site simply running ads as a revenue model, every session is worth something.

Also in the Behavior tab is some great information to help improve your site. Site Speed can let you know which pages might not be loading fast enough, and causing a higher Bounce Rate. If a landing page is getting lots of volume, but everyone’s bouncing before the page loads, you need to get that fixed. Google Analytics has several great ways of breaking down what’s working, what isn’t, and letting you narrow it down to types of device and geographic location

Audience: Who’s visiting you and how long are they sticking around?

For sites that make their money from ads, there may be no more important set of metrics at the end of the day then what the audience numbers show. From this tab, you find out how your site is doing more broadly in terms of sessions, pages/session, average session duration and total pageviews. This is all important stuff when marketing your site to potential advertisers.

Of course, you also have detailed breakdowns of your demographics here. The geographical origin of your audience, their core language, and what kind of device they are using. This can all be very important to sales negotiations with advertisers or business partners, who may value a certain demographic of user higher than others.

Conversions and Goals: Defining your success.

For users with admin access to their site’s Google Analytics page, you have a whole suite of tools available to you to customize and define what success looks like. Thanks to the Conversions page, with custom set goals and metrics suited to those goals, you can quickly access the information that matters most to your organization by putting it all in one place.

Building out that place may take some work though. If you want to know how to define goals, check out Google’s support pages on the topic. Keep in mind when using these metrics, specially internally, that they are what you make of them. If they simply fill in a report but don’t create a story, a plan, a reason to be, they aren’t doing much. You know where to get the metrics now, but what you do with them is what matters most.