8 Metrics You Must Track in Google Analytics

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Google Analytics is an incredibly useful platform that tells how your website performs over time. Thanks to the information it provides, you don’t need to rely on guesswork to figure out essential things about your site and how people interact with it.

Here are eight metrics you really should be tracking in Google Analytics today to help improve your site performance.

1. Incoming Traffic Sources

Google Analytics can show you how people arrive at your site. It breaks down incoming traffic sources into numerous categories, including the following.

  • Organic traffic: When people come to your site via search engines
  • Referral traffic: Occurs when visitors arrive due to clicking on a link from another source such as a blog or embedded video link
  • Direct traffic: People visiting your site after typing the URL into their address bars

You can drill down into the specifics within Google Analytics by creating a segment on the platform. Otherwise, you can look at incoming traffic analytics for particular pages in the Behavior > Site Content section of Google Analytics.

2. Website Bounce Rate

The bounce rate of your site is the percentage of time people visit your site and stay on one page without taking any desirable actions. According to a RocketFuel study, the average bounce rate for the websites in a sample was 49%. But, the bounce rate websites experience can have a broad range, such as between 26 and 70%, RocketFuel’s information showed.

Google Analytics looks at bounce rate in two ways, and one of them is the website bounce rate. If your entire website has a consistently high bounce rate, it indicates something about your site doesn’t meet user needs and expectations. Sometimes, you’ll notice the bounce rate increases after you make substantial changes to your website. If that happens, it probably means users don’t like one or more of the things that are different.

But, if your website has a high bounce rate from the start, it could mean the keyword usage that helps bring people to your site does not accurately reflect its overall content. In that case, you’d want to look at the keywords people most often search for before arriving at your site and ensure your content accurately represents them.

3. Individual Page Bounce Rate

Under the All Pages section, Google Analytics can also tell you the bounce rate of individual pages. Several things can make people leave individual pages rather than lingering on them. Here are some examples:

  • Obtrusive advertisements
  • Autoplaying videos
  • Irrelevant content
  • Material that’s hard to skim
  • Disorganized content

One of the ways you can get to the bottom of a high bounce rate is to ask website users about the things that frustrate them most, provided they’re willing to weigh in with their thoughts. Alternatively, gradually change single features of your website in attempts to improve them and see how those alterations improve the bounce rate or make it worse.

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4. Assisted Social Conversions

If you go to the Acquisition > Social page in Google Analytics, it’s possible to see the relationship social media interaction has on your page. For example, you can see the number of times people share your content on social networks, the number of referrals that come from social media sources and more.

When you get acquainted with the metrics shown through the social overview, keep in mind the conversions metric refers to all conversions associated with your site, not just the social ones. However, assisted social conversions are worth a closer look.

More specifically, those conversions are the ones social media helped achieve. In those cases, people came through social media channels to reach your site at least once, but may have used another source before converting.

Assisted conversions are especially useful to keep tabs on when you realize that in today’s online landscape, people experience content through a wide variety of channels. By looking at the assisted social conversions metric, you could discover social media campaigns pay off more than you thought, or that it’s time to tweak your social strategy to get better results.

5. Average Session Duration

We’re focusing on Google Analytics metrics here, but no matter whether you use that platform or another measurement tool, tracking data analytics can bring value to your goals. They can also help you determine if the updates you made to your site are worthwhile.

In one instance, Walmart used data analytics tools that revealed people had difficulty finding what they needed on their website. After Walmart improved its online search tool, completed purchases went up by 10%. As such, Walmart grew its profits by turning to data analysis.

Regardless of whether you’re selling things on your site, the average session duration is another metric worth tracking. It gives you an idea of how long people spend on your site each time they arrive at it. To go back to the Walmart example, the duration metric probably went up once the retailer enhanced its search tool. That’s because people spent more time on the site to go through the checkout process.

In a broader sense, you can start improving average session duration by working hard to fill your site with high-quality content, enhancing readability and perhaps including different kinds of content, such as infographics and videos.

If this metric is generally low for you, it illuminates something similar to bounce rate: People aren’t spending much time interacting with your site. Once you get a good idea of why that is, you can put your energy toward resolving the problem.

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6. Exit Rate

Exit rate refers to the last page a visitor viewed in a session. For example, they may see a dozen total pages in a session, but if a page has a higher-than-average exit rate, it indicates people are especially likely to leave your site once they see that page.

Google clarifies the difference between exit rate and bounce rate and says that whereas the bounce rate gets calculated when people visit only one page in a session, the exit rate is when people visit several pages and end their visits on certain ones.

If you notice one of your pages has a consistently high exit rate, it means the content on it isn’t sufficiently engaging readers. Some of the things you might do to improve that issue include to replace outdated material with more current stuff or insert more relevant links on the page to encourage people to keep interacting with other pages on your site, instead of navigating away from it.

7. Returning Visitors

Google Analytics considers someone a returning visitor if they come to your site more than once on the same device in less than two years. If more than two years pass between visits, a returning visitor shows up as a new visitor.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your returning visitors stats found in Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returning to grasp whether you give users experiences they deem valuable enough to make them want to return later. It’s also important to remember the device-specific component of this analytic. For example, if someone visits your site twice on the same smartphone, the second instance makes them a returning visitor.

However, if the same person visits your site once on a smartphone and another time on a computer, Google Analytics calculates those separate instances as new visitor metrics.

8. Audience Location

You can find which countries people are in when accessing your site by going to Audience > Geo > Location. Doing that lets you see the top countries ranked according to the number of visits and the percentage of people coming from specific nations. Having those insights could help if you’re actively marketing to people outside of your home country and want to see the fruits of your labors.

Or, if you sell things on your site, it could confirm it’s a good idea for your U.S.-based e-commerce store to offer shipping to the United Kingdom, since people in that region make up the second most popular audience location.

Don’t forget, people commonly use virtual private network tools to make it seem as if they’re in other countries when accessing the internet. As such, your audience location metrics may not be entirely accurate, but you should still feel confident in what they indicate.

Increase User Value With Google Analytics

Google Analytics offers a wealth of statistics you can use to determine the best ways to make your site deliver the maximum value for users. Don’t get discouraged if some of the metrics mentioned here are especially low for your site. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it exists.

Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and writer, as well as an avid WordPress blogger. You can check out her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com

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