What are the best metrics to measure in Google Analytics? 8 key metrics every business owner should measure

After performing dozens of website audits for businesses what I’ve found is that although most businesses have access to Google Analytics they:

  • Don’t know what they are looking for in Google Analytics
  • Don’t check Google Analytics frequently enough
  • Don’t know what to do with the information in Google Analytics

I know you’ve got a business to run, and you don’t have time to measure every single data point.

That being said, typically what gets measured improves and I’d like to to encourage you to frequently measure a few key website performance metrics using Google Analytics.

I know that I shouldn’t have to say this, but your website is hugely significant part of your marketing in 2016 and beyond, and you need to be measuring the performance, even at a high level.

This is especially true if you are publishing content on a frequent basis – you need to know what’s working and what’s not.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics collects website visitor data and it gives you a unique insight into visitor behaviour.

It’s free to use, easy to set up, and can really make a difference to your marketing strategy and performance.

You can use the data from Google Analytics to make insightful/data driven changes on your website and use it as a tool to react to what your visitors are actually doing.

If you don not have access to Google Analytics, or you don’t have it set up yet, the best thing to do is speak to your website development company or click here to follow the tutorials from Google.

To help make measuring performance easier for you, we’ve put together the 8 key metrics every business owner should measure in Google Analytics.

What are the best metrics to measure in Google Analytics?

1. Bounce rate

Audience > Overview

Bounce Rate - Google Analytics

The bounce rate is an indication of what percentage of your visitors have only visited one single page before leaving (exiting) your website.

Bounce rate is displayed as a percentage, and the lower the number the better.

Therefore, it’s important to make sure your website is designed so that visitors are encouraged to view more than one page on your website.

It’s worth noting that if you frequently publish blogs/content you might find that your bounce rate is unusually high, and that’s because visitors may simply read your latest blog and ‘bounce off’ before looking at another page.

Using some of the other information in this article, you can identify what pages have the highest bounce rates and get some clarity on why your bounce rate might be high.

On the home page

What you don’t want is a high percentage of visitors ‘bouncing off’ your home page, which indicates that they haven’t explored your website or read any of your content.

Your home page should be designed to get new visitors to page 2.

In general, you want people to stay on your website for as long as possible to build engagement & trust with them. You want them leaving your website knowing exactly what you do and more importantly what you can do for them – how you can solve their problems.

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2. Time on site (Average session duration)

Audience > Overview

Average Duration - Google Analytics

Average session duration is an average number that should be increasing over time as you create and publish more content.

Time on site and pages viewed per session are perhaps the most important high level metrics for your website, and if they are both increasing your bounce rate should be declining too.

If the average time on site is not increasing, or perhaps it’s relatively low (< 1minute), then you should be focussing on how you can not only publish more helpful and valuable content, but lead your visitors through your website to the best content for them.

In general, the more helpful and valuable content you have on your website that truly helps your visitors will result in them spending more time on your website.

Start your content journey by answering the questions and problems of your ideal customers, publish frequently and consistently, then check your Google Analytics frequently and over a period of 3/6/12 months and I’m certain you’ll notice a difference in the amount of time people are spending on your website.

3. Pages viewed per session

Audience > Overview

Pages viewed per session - Google Analytics

Pages viewed per session tells you how many pages on average each visitor has looked at during their visit to your website.

If you are creating and publishing good quality content frequently this one of the most important metrics to measure in my opinion, and you should expect to see this number go up over time.

As mentioned when discussing bounce rate, one of the challenges you will have if you are publishing content frequently is making it easy for your visitors to not simply visit to read your most recent content, but stay and read more relevant content. You will have to put things in places that make it easy for people to visit more than one page.

4. Landing pages

Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages

Landing Pages - Google Analytics

This section will identify the pages your visitors land on when they first visit your website. Using this you can further understand what pages on your website are driving traffic to your website.

You will probably find that your home page features quite high on the list, and if you are publishing a lot of blog content, keep an eye out for top performing blogs.

It’s quite interesting to see what content is the most popular on your website and can help you to refine the visitor journey through your website.

Relevant content

5. Exit pages

Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages

Exit Pages - Google Analytics

This section in Google Analytics will identify the pages where visitors a leaving your website – the exact opposite of landing pages.

It’s normal for your thank you or completion pages to be featured in your top 10 exit pages, but if your home page is high up on the list then this is an indication that you need to think about how your home page helps people get to the best place for them.

As mentioned previously, your home page should be designed to get new visitors to page 2.

You may also find that your blog articles are high up on the list as regular visitors to your blogs may simply visit to read your latest content.

To gain more of a full picture you should explore both landing and exit pages to get a feel for how your content is performing.

6. Organic search traffic

Acquisition > Overview

Organic Traffic - Google Analytics

Organic traffic is the best type of traffic; it’s free, relevant & sticky. Organic traffic occurs when someone types a search term into Google and your website/content appears in the search results. The visitor then clicks the link and ends up on your website.

This is where content marketing really comes into it’s own. If you are creating content that people are searching for, your content will drive more organic traffic to your website. Thus increasing your audience and getting new visitors to your website.

In this same section it’s interesting to see where all your website traffic is coming from, as a percentage.

Ideally you want to be seeing an increase in organic traffic over time, and for it to be your largest source of incoming traffic – 50-60% is a good average.

7.Behaviour flow

Behaviour > Behaviour Flow

Behaviour Flow - Google Analytics

Behaviour flow shows you where traffic is coming from and the visitor journey through your website.

It’s interesting to take a look at this journey to see what pages your visitors are viewing in succession.

This is a great visual way to view what content is keeping your visitors engaged and also where your visitors are dropping off.

You can also highlight traffic through a specific path to map out the journey.

8. Referral traffic

Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals

Referral Traffic - Google Analytics

Referral traffic showcases the other locations where your visitors are coming from to your website. In other words, non-search engine traffic.

A website displays a link back to your website and when that link is clicked Google Analytics registers this as referral traffic.

Referral traffic is interesting for you if you are running a number of social media campaigns, or if you are curious as to what other websites are driving traffic to your website.

Monitoring your traffic sources is especially crucial if you are trying to drive paid traffic from advertising or listings websites.

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What gets measured improves

Your website should be monitored just like you would check your business bank account – often! Do the same with Google Analytics.

Your website is your 24/7/365 shop window and you need to be on the ball when it comes to keeping and getting customers in a competitive marketplace.

Set time aside to focus on your website and Google Analytics – use your findings to your advantage and do something about it to make those important changes to your website.

Perhaps you need to start publishing more content to increase organic traffic to your website? If you haven’t considered content marketing then you should explore the subject and see how it fits with your business.

If you need any help navigating your way through Google Analytics, or if you have any questions, please drop into the comments section below and let me know what’s on your mind.

Don’t forget to be awesome!

Chris.

When performing website audits I sometimes find the Google Analytics data to be inaccurate. If you are going to start making decisions based on a data source it has to be as accurate as possible. If you want to find out more about Google Analytics Spam, click here. If you want to jump directly to the solution I recommend installing the Loganix Google Analytics Spam filter.

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About Chris Marr

Chris is the leading voice of the growing Content Marketing movement in the UK. His pioneering work has helped countless organisations grow through content marketing. His drive comes from a desire to help people break free from the world of interruption marketing.