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David Husnian
David Husnian
The "honest marketer", an oxymoron? Not in this case :-) I believe marketing, truth and integrity can all be used in the same sentence. Doing just that I have taken my monthly income and turned into my weekly income... (daily is next!)
 
Posted in Business / Marketing / E-Marketing

Google Analytics, What the Numbers Mean and How You Can Profit From Them

Apr. 4, 2012 3:00 pm
Categories: Online Success
Keywords: None

Measuring, tracking, reacting and testing are key critical aspects of having true success; this is true of everything and is the basis for all learning even though it may be subconscious and Google Analytics provides a tool to help you do that with your Web pages.

You see, your audience tells you what they want by what pages they go to, what they do on those pages, how long they stay, etc. – these are indicators about how they feel about your Web properties and how well it meets their needs.

A technical term for the analytics data that helps answer those type of questions is “surrogate” which in this context is something that can be measured that results in data which leads to the formation of arguments and conclusions.

Below we will provide a quick look at some of the data that Google Analytics provides but first I want you to be careful not to misinterpret the data, let me show you what I mean by that...

For example, you may think you see opportunities on a topic, as opposed to another topic, because you’re getting a lot of sign ups or making a lot of money from those pages but not from the other pages.

However, this may be true because the first topic ranks well in, and gets a lot of traffic from, the search engines while the second topic doesn’t.

Therefore, the data doesn’t really tell you about the opportunity at all, in fact, the second topic might actually make you more money but since it doesn’t get the traffic you don’t know one way or the other and you may never know if you misinterpret the analytics data.

So, remember that your analytics data will show you where traffic is coming from, what is happening during the visitors time on your site, where and what is currently succeeding and what isn’t, but it does not indicate what might succeed or fail in a different situation.

One of the biggest fallacies people get is that something “doesn’t work” (or even something “works”) just from one try (or a couple of identical tries) and then assume it always works or doesn’t work.

While something may fail miserably if done one way, it might be highly successful when done a different way or under different circumstances (like the example above where the topic wasn’t getting search engine traffic); so it's not necessarily what you do but how you do it.

For example, if you want to rank high in the search engines and you try one SEO technique and you fail. That does not mean SEO doesn't work, it may mean the specific method you tried doesn't work for your target audience or that you didn't do it properly or that you didn't do enough of it or try it for a long enough period or... I think you get the point.

Trying something once or twice and succeeding or failing won't tell you any more than it either works in that situation at that time or it doesn't work in that situation at that time and if you think differently you are limiting yourself.

Quick Look at Google Analytics Metrics

When using Google Analytics there is a whole lot of data and it may not all be intuitively understandable so here is a brief rundown of key metrics and what they are.

Date Range

Always remember that the analytics data is for a specific period of time and different time periods will tell you different things.

Make sure you set the date range of the data to correspond to what you want to see in the particular situation; this is particularly important in some situations because looking at too wide a date range or too narrow a date range may cause you to come to the wrong conclusion.

If you aren't sure, look at your numbers in small and large date ranges and see what it does and doesn't tell you and match it to your situation.

Page Views

This is the number of times a specific page (or all pages if you are looking at summary data) was viewed during the period defined in the date range.

Note that this is raw views and a page refresh will count as a view.

Unique Page Views

This is the number of times a specific page (or all pages if you are looking at summary data) was “uniquely viewed” during the period defined in the date range.

Uniquely viewed means that page was viewed at least once in the same “user session” – a user session means as long as they stay on your Web site; if they are inactive for over 30 minutes it's consider a new user session and if they leave and come back within 30 minutes of their last visit then it's the same user session.

Say, for example, someone views your blog Home page, then goes into your About page and then back to your Home page then views a blog post, then follows a link to another blog post then goes back to your Home page.

That would be 3 page views for the home page but only 1 unique page view for it.

Average Time on Page

This is the average amount of time that all users spent on the specific page within the date range.

Simple, but remember this information can be easily skewed by the extreme boundaries of the results.

For example, say you had 10 people come to a Web page and this is how long they stayed on the page:

Person NumberTime on Page
11:56
22:23
32:12
41:39
540:44
61:49
72:01
81:33
92:09
101:17

If you add up the total amount of time you get 57:43 and then divide that 10 and you get an average time on page of about 6 minutes and 3 seconds.

But if you remove the 40 minute result then you get an average time on page of slightly less than 2 minutes meaning that the one extreme result made it seem like the average time on page was more than 3 times the “real” time.

This also points out that you need to have a sufficient number of data points for your results to be accurate; for example, if the 40 minute view happened once in 10,000 page views it would essentially have no impact on results.

Bounce Rate

This is how many times a person viewed a Web page and left the site without viewing any other pages on the same site; to Google this is a negative because they feel that the site isn’t giving them searcher the information they need.

Of course, that is a very narrow and short-term view because the page may be exactly what the person needed at the time and they may have spent 25 minutes reading and taking notes and showing someone else and, ultimately, seeing a link where they went and purchased something and you made money from their visit.

Rightly or wrongly, however, the search engines don’t like to see high bounce rates and it is one of the factor they use to determine search engine rankings

To be fair, usually high bounce rates combined with a low average time on page usually mean that the page is not very useful to most readers.

% Exit

This is similar to bounce rate in that it is the percentage of time that people leave your site from a specific page.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a bad is page, in fact, it could mean just the opposite because the page could be a page where you convince people to go and buy something and many people are convinced and leave the site to go and buy!

Also, remember that every single visitor who comes to your site will leave your site from some page!

What you want to do is to make sure you minimize the number of site exits from the key sales funnel pages while maximizing site exits from pages that send someone to another site to buy something or an opt-in page which sends the visitor to your e-mail management autoresponder Web site after they subscribe.

Visits

This is the number of times one of your visitors has been to your site in a unique user session.

Remember that a user session ends if the visitor is inactive for 30 minutes but if the visitor leaves your site and returns within 30 minutes it is considered the same user session.

Visitors

This is the number of people who have visited your site.

During the specified date range, the initial first time someone visits your site they are considered a visitor (as well as having made a visit) but when they come back in a different user session they have additional visits but aren't considered additional visitors.

Analyzing the Data

When you analyze the data you get there are a few things you need to make sure you remember to get the best use from Google Analytics.

Look at the best and the worst results in each category. This way you will gain an understanding of what is working (and what you’re doing well) and what isn’t working (and what you’re doing poorly).

As mentioned above, be sure that the data you received is not skewed by either unusually high or low numbers.

Don’t just look at the numbers. Save them in a spreadsheet, track the results over time, and act on what you learn from the data; if you’re not going to do that then the whole process of capturing the data is a big waste of time.

Using analytics can make a huge difference in the level of success you have and Google Analytics is a very nice and absolutely free tool to help you optimize your pages and site to maximize its potential; use it!

For more on Google Analytics, go to Google's Metrics Definition page.

Do you use Google Analytics? What do you like about it? How has it helped you be more successful? What questions do you have about it? Let me know below.

 
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