Understanding Website Traffic Patterns With Google Analytics

by Lois Leonard

3 min read

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool that every business with a website should utilize. It informs the website owner about often and what type of traffic is hitting the site.

How It Works

Google Analytics works is a free online digital solution that collects data about a website’s digital presence. Each Google Analytics user has a specific unique ID that is inserted into the code on each page of the website. Each time the website is accessed, Google Analytics tracks amount of time, frequency and what type of user is visiting.

Creating an Account

The first step to creating an account is to go the Google Analytics website and sign up. Users input the website URL, the industry category and the reporting time zone. After inputting the required data, users are then required to review the Google Analytics terms of service agreement to proceed. Upon acceptance, it will lead to the main Admin page.

Installing Analytics on the Website Pages

The tracking code that needs to be installed on every page of the wesbite is provided on the Google Analytics Admin page under the Website Tracking section. Installing the tracking code differs for each type of site. On WordPress, for example, the tracking code can be added to the header and footer scripts using the Genesis Framework. Some website providers offer specific sections to enter the Google Analytics tracking code or ID.

Granting Permissions to Other Members

Google Analytics allows multiple users to view its reports without needing to give out the originator’s username and password. To add other members of a marketing team, go to the User Management tab under the Admin area. From here, you can give out permissions to other team members to allow them to manage users, edit, collaborate, or just read and analyze. New users are notified after you input their email addresses.

The user management screen is useful to see which team members have access and with what capabilities. Managers of the website can edit any member’s access at any time through the screen with ease.

Accessing Reports

After logging into the Google Analytics website, users view the Audience Overview report. All the reports are under the Reporting tab, where there are many different options. The Overview page shows updated data of the website’s activity, such as how many users, sessions and page views there have been. This data can be viewed on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis through an easy-to-click tab at the top right corner. Other available information includes the number of pages per session, the average session duration, the bounce rate and the percentage of new sessions. At the bottom, it breaks down website user demographics and types of systems users have viewed the website on.

There are several more detailed reports located under the Overview page. See a report of the active users, cohort analysis and the user explorer reports. The user explorer reports are broken down into several more detailed reports, such as demographics, interests, geography, behaviour, technology and benchmarking.

Interpreting Reports

With all the options and data available from all the different types of reports, analyzing the end results can be very confusing. Google Analytics has some specific words that are important for website owners to understand.

  • A session is a single container of time in which a webpage visitor’s actions are grouped. For example, if a visitor views four pages in two minutes, the activity will be viewed as one session.

  • A user is anyone who accesses the website, whether from a computer, mobile device or tablet.

  • A page view occurs anytime a website visitor views a certain page.

Understanding these terms will help users analyze the reports to better maximize their website. As time progresses, the activity will increase on the results and give the user an accurate measure of the website. If sessions and users are very low, the website might need a better search engine optimization strategy to drive traffic to the site. If page views and pages per session are low, then perhaps the navigation or content need to be improved to keep visitors interested. Interpreting the reports and then using the data to improve the website will help make it a more useful marketing tool for the business.

Performing Keyword Research to Revamp and Improve SEO Strategy

Websites can gain more traffic when businesses do content optimization using Google Analytics’ Acquisition section. In this section, you can understand the behaviour and landing page for visitors that are directed to the website from Google search keywords. This list contains up to 100 keywords that will help drive traffic to the site that should be added. The top keywords should be listed throughout the website content to help drive traffic.

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