How to use Google Analytics to better understand your audience
Google analytics is a tool that can be used to comprehensively monitor information about a website. Real-time tracking, audience information, audience acquisition and audience behaviour are some of the aspects that google analytics can provide data on.
While these pieces of data are crucial in helping assess a website, it’s how the information is used and the insights that can be gleaned that is most important.
If you don’t know about using google analytics, it’s as simple as creating a google account and pasting some generated code into the HTML of your website (or pages of your website). You can find out more about this here. https://www.google.com.au/analytics/
After putting the script in the HTML, it’s just a matter of sitting back, looking at the numbers and understanding their meaning.
Whether this is your own personal site, your blog, a client’s site or a corporate page, this data can be beneficial in many ways. The following 3 examples are ways that you can find information to better understand your audience.
The above image shows a sample of some data under the Audience > Overview tab on google analytics. Over a time period specified by you, you can see the number of users, sessions, etc. that your site received. While some numbers may be important, the higher-level understanding of the data is also vital.
For example, in the graph above it can be seen that the number of sessions drops from averaging 100 daily sessions to about 50, that’s a drop of 50%, and this occurs at approximately January 3.
Investigations should then be undertaken and answering questions such as “what happened on January 3?’, “how can we reverse this drop?” would be crucial. Another great aspect here is that time periods can be seamlessly compared, as shown below.
Comparing time periods like this is a quick and effective way to gauge progression over time.
Understanding where your traffic is coming from is also a good piece of information to know. If you know where your audience is coming from, you can then tailor actions to those sources to potentially bring a lot more traffic to your site. This can be found under Acquisition > All Traffic > Sources/Medium.
For example, google analytics provides a break-down of the traffic coming to your site by website. Sometimes, spam sites may be a top contributor; this will indicate your site is receiving illegitimate traffic (this can then be blocked, to further break-down legitimate traffic).
If, for example, 20% of your web traffic is from Facebook clicked links, you have a very receptive audience on Facebook and should be publishing more content there. If 3% of traffic is from Twitter, it is perhaps not the best channel for your content, and investigating this stream would be beneficial.
If 60% of your traffic is from google, you probably have good search engine optimisation (SEO). If 2% is from google, you probably need to improve your site’s SEO. The mediums that google analytics shows can give you a good feel about what media is suitable for your content or demographic. Effort can then be increased or decreased in different streams to benefit your audience.
This portion of google analytics is about understanding what pages are performing, and what pages aren’t. This information is found under Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.
For example, if a blog on your website has 10000 views for the month, but your homepage has 3000 then it’s obvious that users are being directly linked to that blog and not routed through the homepage.
It would be recommended to then look into the sources of traffic for the blog, and perhaps try and replicate it for the website landing page. By looking at the higher viewed or longest stayed pages on your site, you can better understand your audience’s interests.
If a blog post has 5000 views on puppies but only 500 on kittens, your next blog post should likely be about dogs and not cats. There might be trends in the most popular pages on your site that you can exploit for your next content piece.
The example image above demonstrates that the most popular website traffic is contact-oriented. While various blog posts also somewhat popular, the audience for this site is interested largely in contact information of the organisation (contact, people, services)
With this knowledge, future content that will appeal to your audience can be made. In this case, ensuring all essential contact information is up to date and available on site is important.
Google analytics is not something to ignore. It’s a powerful tool that can reveal lots of information about not only your site but the people coming to your site and how they got there. This information can be used to help make better, more relevant content for a more satisfied audience. While google analytics is a very nuanced and detailed tool, these three examples just scratch the surface at how you can use it to better understand your audience.
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