The most important parts of Google analytics

Most important stats in Google Analytics

Where do I start!

Most clients ask me that when I set them up with Google Analytics. And of course it’s free.

When you log in you will be presented with what Google determines as the most important statistics for your web site:

  1. Visits
  2. Unique Visitors
  3. Pageviews
  4. Pages / Visit
  5. Average Visit Duration
  6. Bounce Rate
  7. % New Visits

Personally I think you could drop half initially because you can work out the rest (or ignore, or assume) the other statistics. And I would add a couple to this list:

  1. Visits
  2. Unique Visitors
  3. Pageviews
  4. Pages / Visit
  5. Average Visit Duration
  6. Bounce Rate
  7. % New Visits
  8. % Returning Visitors
  9. % Mobile

A quick explanation in order of importance

  • Visits are people who visit your site, they may visit it more than once but if it’s within half an hour it’s counted as the same visit.
  • Bounce rate is 100% if everyone who visits your site only visits one page and then leaves. Ideally you want 0% bounce rate. This means than every visitor visits more than one page. It simply means than the person visiting your site finds your content, product, or service interesting and wants to know more. A good bounce rate would be around 50% or lower.
  • Pages per visit are how many pages someone visits. The more the better. If you multiply that by visits you get pageviews. And the average visit duration can be assumed from that to with a quick guess. And if you have 100% bounce rate then pages per visitor will be 1.
  • Now I think Returning visitors is more interesting than new visitors even though you can just subtract one of them from 100 to get the other. I think this because it’s a quick sign of the loyalty of people and how much they value your web site.
  • Finally the % of people using mobile devices to access your web site is of huge importance and becoming more important by the minute. This is in the left navigation on the home page of Analytics. If your site is not mobile compatible and 50% people visiting your site are on mobiles then make it compatible (by phoning me today for a quote!).

What’s the difference between visits, visitors and unique visitors?

You can get bogged down in explanations for visits etc. Here is a link to a forum that explains it better than I could. As a general rule just stick to the ‘Visits’ statistic: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/analytics/hwx43EVkDcM

The importance of trends in statistics

After a site is re-designed or newly launched clients get excited and rightly so. It is exciting. However statistics can vary widely from day to day, week to week, and sometimes month to month. Always wait about 3 months to get a good idea of what’s happening with your site. For newly launched sites it can take 6 months to get a good idea because search engines will take that long to trust you.

Other stuff

Hope all this makes sense. Don’t forget there are plenty of other stats including location of your visitors, the browser they are using, and even real time visitors. So even though I’m just pointing out what I think are the most important statistics, don’t be afraid to poke around a little.