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When you are a brand with a website with useful content or unique products, your website is destined to attract an audience. Even so, you must be able to hold and convert the potential customers into loyal customers. This all depends on how you choose to optimize and use these Google Analytics Metrics so that they best fit your brand and website. But out of all what does Google Analytics track?

There are so many different ways that a website can increase their rates of retention and conversion. But prior to taking on the endeavour you must figure out which specific Google Analytics Metrics that you are trying to improve for your brand. Use this as a guide to help you determine which Google Analytics Metrics are the most important to track. You will find most of these metrics in the Audience section within the dashboard of Google Analytics. Along with other metrics that aid you in tracking your website traffic. Google Analytics Metric is  an integral part of client report.

So when it comes to your business, one of the first things every website gets fitted with is Google Analytics Tracking. Another free product from the search giant, which helps you track the performance of your website. Here are some of the most important Google Analytics Metrics that you need to keep an eye on.

To measure your Website’s performance, your primary focus should be on KPIs that are vital to reaching your website’s goal. When using Google Analytics or any other analytics tool, you will see dozens of reports showing various data. How do you know which KPIs are important for your website?

“A Metric is a quantifiable measure that is used to track and assess the status of a specific business process.”

A. Acquisition – Behavior – Conversion (ABC)

Google Analytics clusters data and reports based on ABC‘s:

  • Acquisition
  • Behavior and
  • Conversions.

B. Why ABC’s Are Important Google Analytics Metrics?

We described the importance of measuring KPIs that are vital in achieving your website’s SMART business objectives. Regardless of your website’s specific objectives, measuring the Acquisition – Behavior – Conversion (ABC) cycle will be crucial to reaching them, and here is why:

  • Acquisition measures traffic to your website and tells you how your website acquires visitors.
  • Behavior tells you how effective your website is at engaging visitors; it also points out what pages they view and the actions they take on the website
  • Conversion tracks the effectiveness of your website in persuading website visitors to take a desirable action.

A conversion is the completion of an activity on your website that is important to your business’ success. Tracking it will ultimately measure your website’s overall business performance.

“Conversion” is typically the most important metric for showing whether or not your website is on track. It is very important for meeting your SMART business objectives. It usually refer to sales (checkouts), leads (in the form of completed Contact Us forms), user registrations, and other actions users take. This helps in measuring your website’s effectiveness in persuading them to take the desired action.

 

 1. Acquisition Google Analytics Metrics:

Without traffic, your website is dead weight in the digital space. Regardless of the level of effectiveness your website has, it cannot fulfill its mission if there aren’t any visitors. If you plan on bring in web traffic only through organic search then you need to look more into Click-through rate for every page. You must track the following Acquisition KPIs:

  • Sessions & Users
  • % New Sessions
  • New Sessions
  • Traffic
  • Entrances
  • Page views
  • Channels

 

Sessions & Users :

In simplest terms, sessions give the number of times users have stayed on a website (for a specific amount of time). Google Analytics records sessions based on two factors: time and “campaigns,” which consist of different traffic sources, such as search engines, referring sites, or other tracked URLs.

A visitor can leave your site, return, and still be in the same session. However, if a user is inactive on your site for 30 minutes or more, then returns, Google Analytics records that as a new session — something it calls “time-based expiration.”

Campaign-based expirations occur when a user enters your site via one source — a search engine, for example — then leaves and returns via another source. Each time a user’s campaign source changes, Google Analytics opens a new session.

Increasing the number of sessions for your website is important. However, there is a catch. Since a single user can have multiple sessions for a website, the total number of sessions can increase even with a decrease in the number of individual users.This is one of the few Google Analytics Metrics that you should not miss tracking.

Along with tracking sessions for your website, you should also look at the number of individual users contributing those sessions.

Users measure the number of unique visitors to your website. It includes both new and returning visitors. These unique visitors account for the total number of sessions. While your website sessions are increasing, make sure that the users are also growing.

Both Users and Sessions show how effective your marketing is in generating traffic by bringing people to the website. You want the traffic to your website to be consistent and increasing over time. A large amount of traffic can always be converted into leads, sales or other forms of revenue.

Google analytics custom metrics

 

% New Sessions :

This metric measures how many of your site visits are from first time visitors or returning visitors, and indicates the efficacy of your marketing efforts at driving new site traffic. However, this is an important KPI  for measuring the ‘stickiness’ of your site, or whether your site is worthy of multiple visits from users.

You have to look at this number in the context of what is happening and what you are trying to accomplish. A high percentage of new users is a reflection of how well your advertising and marketing draws in new potential customers. However, a high percentage may also represent a substantial base of one-time visitors which could mean you are not building a loyal following or generating residual traffic to your website.

custom metrics google analytics

What percentage is ideal for new sessions ?

No benchmark. I often see a range of 45 – 75%, but maybe the 80/20 rule works for you.

A good site will have a healthy mix of new and returning site visitors, and this mix will vary depending on your site goals, business and industry. If your goal is to generate leads from your site, you’ll want a healthy number of returning visits as it often takes multiple interactions with your site for users to convert.

However, don’t get so lost in acquiring new visits that you neglect your existing audience base. Additionally, it’s important to note that not ALL site visitors are worthy of retention.

 

New Sessions :

New Sessions is the number of first-time visits (people who had never visited your site before). If this percentage is high, it means that lots of new traffic is coming to your site. If this percentage is low, most of your users are return visitors who’ve visited your site before. While new traffic means your marketing is reaching new users, you also want to maintain a high Repeat Visitor Ratio (repeat visitors / visitors in a month), as these signify more engaged users that are cheaper to market to and convert into customers.

 

Traffic :

The number of visits and visitors to your website, reported as sessions and users. Most often referencing the number of visits (sessions) to your site.

Traffic, specifically number of visits, is a fundamental measurement of site reach and growth. It’s helpful at gauging how well your marketing efforts are working, and helps to give a great overall snapshot of site performance. You spend all this time figuring out how to get traffic to your website, but the key is to make sure it’s the right traffic.

Site goals based on a number or range of visits should not be used as an indication of success. Your only goal should be to do better than you did this time last year.

At a general site level, there’s very little value in measuring / pursuing goals in overall site traffic without context from traffic channels and location (if you’re a regionally based business). Additionally, although I do recommend monitoring your month over month traffic performance to look for trends and changes, this isn’t an accurate measure of success due to seasonal traffic fluctuations and other factors. The best measurement of success when it comes to traffic is a year over year performance comparison and growth progression.This is one of the few Google Analytics Metrics that you should not miss tracking.

google analytics metrics glossary

 

Entrances :

An entrance occurs when a visitor enters your site and begins a new session. Entrances differ from visits in that only one entrance can occur during a session, while multiple visits may occur during a single session. (Multiple visits can occur if, for example, a visitor enters the site but ignores it for 20 minutes, and then goes back to interact with the same page, creating a new visit yet not a new entrance or session.)

This metric is most useful when combined with particular content pages, at which point, it will indicate the number of times a particular page served as an entrance to your site.

 

google analytics metrics explained

Page Views :

What are pageview? A pageview is a view of a page on your site by a visitor, which Google Analytics tracks. The Pageview metric shows how often visitors access your web content.

There can be two instances for higher number of pageviews. This can be result of quality content, that motivates website users to navigate through the pages. Else it could also be that visitors are unable to find what they’re searching for or are reloading pages that don’t render correctly.

If website pageview increase because of loading errors, consider unique pageviews to fix this metrics. Sometimes you want visitors to consume content from multiple pages. In this case how to increase pageviews? If you are using a wordpress website, there are multiple plugins that can help push visitors to other pages based on the activity on the website.

If you outsource content marketing to an agency, never consider pageview, daily pageviews or pageviews per month  as a KPI for the agency.

 

google analytic metrics cheat sheet

Channels :

Channels are the paths or processes that led a visitor to your site. Your should monitor four main channels: organic search, direct, referral, and social. You can also monitor paid search but, make sure you pick the right Google Adwords Metrics to measure your campaign’s performance.

Let’s explore each channel 

  • Organic search is when someone finds your site using a search engine. This is usually broken down into either branded or unbranded keywords. Once someone selects your site listing in the search results, they are registered as organic search traffic.Organic search is the most important metric to monitor when it comes to how your site is performing from an overall SEO standpoint. Is your site optimized correctly to show up for the keywords you would like to rank for? Are you driving quality traffic to your site? These are questions that can better be answered by monitoring this metric specifically.
  • Direct traffic is when someone types the URL of your pages directly into the address bar of their browser. For example, someone typing hingemarketing.com into his or her address bar would register as direct traffic.
  • Referral traffic is registered if someone is taken to your site via a link on another website other than a search engine. The quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links that point back to your site play a major part in how Google ranks sites in organic search. Therefore, it is important to make an effort to earn quality links back to your site.
  • Social traffic, much like referral traffic, is registered once someone enters your site via a social media link. The two most popular social networks for B2B firms are LinkedIn and Twitter. Other popular networks for B2B firms include Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

google analytics tracking

 

2. Behavior Metrics :

Behaviors are best thought of as a path toward a goal. Behavior KPIs inform you of users’ behaviors on your website. This insight is crucial to ensuring optimal user experience and improving it over time in order to maximize conversions. Following are a few basic behavior KPIs you should track:

  • Bounces
  • Bounce Rate
  • Pages per Sessions
  • Average Session Duration
  • Exit Rate

 

Bounces :

Bounces are defined as the number of visits to your site that contain a single image request. Custom links are included, meaning if a visit consists of a page view and a custom link, that visit is not considered a bounce.

google analytics dashboard templates

Bounce Rate :

At the site level, bounce rate is useful as a general signal of user engagement and the state of content quality, and helps to identify when problems exist on your site. However, bounce rate is very dependent on the site, and unreliable on its own, and must be used alongside other engagement metrics such as average session duration and pages per visit.

google analytics dashboard widgets

 

What’s a good bounce rate ?

This will honestly depend, as there’s no hard and fast rule. 50% is an industry indicator, but this number should always be taken into consideration with other metrics, the nature of your business and industry.

An abnormally high bounce rate is generally a warning that people are leaving your site, and aren’t willing to stick around to explore the rest of your website.

Bounce rate is often unfairly flagged as a ‘bad’ metric, but it’s not inherently good or bad. It simply states how often site visits stay on the same page from their initial entry. Standard bounce rate (in Google Analytics) has nothing to do with time on site or how quickly a user leaves the site, so if you’re judging the success of your site on a high bounce rate, you’re missing key information about how users are actually interacting. For instance, consider a user that clicked on your site from a search result, spent 5 minutes reading the content on your landing page, then leaves or completes an off-site call to action. In Google Analytics, that’s technically considered a bounce, even though it lead to an interaction.

A number of factors can be responsible for high bounce rates. Anything from the ease of navigation, slow page loads, poor aesthetics, low or irrelevant quality content. Once you can identify there’s an issue, dig a little further with segmentation to determine why your visitors are leaving.

 

Pages per Session:

Pages per Session shows the average number of pages viewed during a session. It counts multiple views of a single page. More pages / session means users are engaging with your site by delving into more pages.

Pages/Session can help determine how well the visitor flows through your content, from one page to another. The closer your Pages/Session is to the number one, the less likely visitors are proceeding along the path to conversion. Ideally, your Pages/Session would be close to the number of pages required to complete a conversion.

For most sites, the goal is keep users engaged, nurture their interest, and get them to take the next step. This is an excellent way of measuring interest and curiosity about your company.

Additionally, while some would suggest that the greater the number of pages per session, the better, this isn’t always the case. Consider the average time on site and bounce rate to piece together a better idea of what’s happening at large. A site with a high number of pages per session, low session duration, and a high bounce rate can indicate page flipping behavior due to irrelevant content, poor accessibility, or disinterest. Similarly, a site struggling with low number of pages per session coupled with low session duration, and a high bounce rate can indicate low quality content or user engagement. However, it’s best to always consider your goals. In some instances, this might be exactly what you want for your marketing campaign.

 

Average Session Duration :

Average Session Duration reveals the length of time that users are spending on your site in hours, minutes, and seconds. If you’re seeing short session duration, you’ll probably see a high bounce rate as well. Greater session duration means more time spent interacting with site content. The more relevant your site is to the visitor, the longer the average session duration will be since a visitor will spend more time accessing information that interests him.

Alongside bounce rate and pages per session, average session duration contributes to the user engagement story by illustrating how long users stay on your site. At the site level, it’s a helpful metric for indicating engagement the true value of your site content.


google analytics sample report 

What should be average time on site ?

The industry standard is 2 – 3 minutes.

What can happen in two minutes? Two minutes might not seem like much time, but it’s enough time for users to read content and interact with your website. And for this reason, longer sessions indicate more engaged visits. Time is the most precious resource we have as human beings, and this number shows us how much of their time users are willing to sacrifice for your content. 

However, because this number is an average based metric, we must be careful at trusting this number without further context.This metric is most helpful when looking at segmented views, traffic sources and in consideration with other engagement metrics.

 

Exit Rate :

Exit rate is the percentage of visitors that land on a web page and leave.

Unlike bounces, exits are counted whenever users leave a web page, regardless of whether they browsed other web pages earlier.

All bounces are exits, but not all exits are bounces.

Exit rate is associated with a web page and not a website. For example, if there’s a website with five web pages, each of the five pages will have their individual exit rate.

Exit rate is a great way to identify the web pages of a conversion funnel (eCommerce funnel, SaaS funnel, Subscription funnel, etc.)  that are leaking out users. The web pages with a high exit rate in a conversion funnel require immediate optimization.

Much as in improving Time on Page and Bounce Rate, it’s important to consider your user to ensure they aren’t exiting important pages. Engaging content, whether visual or written, is essential, so revisit your content and revamp it as necessary. 

 

google analytics dimensions vs metrics

3. Conversion Metrics :

Once your Goals are set, Google Analytics will start recording data each time a Goal conversion happens. Note that Analytics will show conversions only from the moment you set up Goals tracking, not before.

Once data is received, you will see a number of Goals reports. Let’s look at some basic conversion KPIs you will see across Google Analytics reports.

  • Conversion Rate
  • Completions
  • Goal Value

 

Goal Conversion Rate :

It shows the percentage of visits that resulted in a conversion as defined by the Goal. If we were to single out one KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for measuring the effectiveness of your website, this would be it. In many cases, there is no better indicator to gauge your website’s effectiveness than its conversion rate. All steps taken from this point on should be focused on maximizing this conversion rate.

If the conversion rate is high, and you’re bringing in more quality traffic, you will reach your business objectives faster. On the other hand, if the conversion rate is low, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you’re bringing in your website is ineffectively engaging visitors which means you are wasting time and money. 

 

metrics google analytics

Goal Completions :

Conversion  rate measures the effectiveness and the number of conversions measures the impact on your business. As quality traffic to the website grows, a healthy conversion rate should translate to results in sales, leads, subscriptions, registrations etc..that you consider to be a conversion.

Other examples of conversion indicators for your website could be liking or sharing a post on social media or viewing an embedded video. This measures the action and not the loading of a specific page. Google Analytics allows the setup of up to 20 goals, so you can assign goals to anything on your website with a measurable impact.

Conversions are the outcomes mentioned in the definition and signify the reason why your site exists. Generally, a lower than average conversion rate may indicate issues with accessibility, calls to actions, low quality content, and general disinterest. However, if your site engagement is suffering, it’s likely the case that your conversion rate will suffer as well.

event tracking google analytics

 

Goal Value :

It shows the monetary value of conversions. It measures both the quality and the quantity.

You can assign goals a monetary value, so you can actually see the worth of each conversion to your business. We can also track actions like average order values, total amounts sold, purchasing trends, or top selling items.

You can assign arbitrary numbers to goals. By giving each goal a dollar value, you can prioritize. Example, if you believe that leads originate from LinkedIn are twice as valuable as those from Facebook, set dollar amounts accordingly.

Not any one metric should be used alone to indicate performance success. Each metric presents only a piece of the puzzle, and the full situation can only truly be understood when used together.  If you were to focus on only one metric, instead of letting them lend to the story together, you’re missing the bigger picture. This can lead to some dangerous judgments and decisions.

Once you understand your general site metrics, by traffic source, you ca dig further into behavior and page level analysis. Further, always consider your goals when reviewing these metrics, as this provides context for your site’s analytics story. 

Tracking the above Google Analytics Metrics will surely help you do business better. To gain more insights you can follow  Analytics Metrics and dimensions guide.

 

Sruthi Varanasi

Author Sruthi Varanasi

A Passionate learner, optimist and music-lover. Digital marketing has always spun interest in me and I am here to know more about this ever evolving industry. Writing gives me immense satisfaction and that's how I'm a content writer now.

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