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7 Questions to Get You Started in Google Analytics

You have Google Analytics set up on your website, and you feel comfortable logging in to see how many people have viewed your site during a particular time period. But beyond that, it gets fuzzier; you’re not quite sure what else to look for, or how to translate data into insights and action. Sound familiar?

When talking to mission-driven organizations about web analytics, we often get the proud response that everything is being tracked. However, when digging deeper into how the data is helping them to validate success or take decisions to increase or decrease website tactics, it’s hard to frame a response.

Our analytics team’s data-informed approach to building, updating and managing websites always start with a question or two that we can use as an entry point to understanding a site’s performance and how an organization’s audience is using it currently.

Once you’ve logged into your website’s Google Analytics dashboard, here are seven questions you can use as a base to better understand how your website is being used, and identify new ways to improve its user experience.

1. What are the average monthly pageviews for the past year, and were there any spikes or dips?

Total pageviews per month over the past year gives you a sense of the average volume of traffic you can expect. It also helps you to quickly identify outliers, for example, a month where traffic tripled compared to the previous month because someone linked to your latest report. These data points can help you to see what pages, content, and campaigns are performing best (and why, as in the example of the report linking).

2. What are the top sources driving traffic to the site?

As you develop outreach and marketing strategies, reviewing traffic sources will give you a sense of whether social media, search engines and/or email marketing are effective channels in driving key audiences back to your website. For example, if 40% of your web traffic is coming from Facebook, then you know that you’re doing something right there (and may want to focus on it even more!).

3. Is campaign traffic being tracked through tagged URLs?

If you have been running focused campaigns within your marketing efforts, you want to make sure you are tagging any associated links to those campaigns as separate website traffic sources. This ensures that your marketing campaigns don’t get counted accidentally under ‘direct traffic’ sources and that you can effectively report on the success of those campaigns in driving traffic to your website.

4. What are the top entry points across the site?

What is the first impression your site makes on a new visitor? The first page they land on or enter from can impact whether or not they stay and engage with your content. Many may come through your homepage which is well set up for additional touchpoints, but if a lot are also coming in through specific pages such as blog posts or event pages, this data gives you good insight into how you might consider making it even easier for users to navigate from those landing pages to other interesting content or calls-to-action (CTAs).

5. What is the breakdown of mobile and desktop visitors on the site?

Depending on your organization and the key audiences you are pursuing, you may see a different balance of visitors accessing your site from either a mobile device or desktop computers. If data shows that the majority of visitors view your site on their phone, then you’ll be able to justify further investment in updates to the mobile responsiveness of your site.

6. What are the most viewed pages beyond the homepage?

While we usually expect for the homepage of any site to see a lot of traffic, you will want to understand what other pages across your site are popular. Similarly to entry point data, most-viewed pages can help inform your content strategy and what you’ll focus on in the coming months or year. For example, people may most often enter through the homepage, but then 8 times out of 10, they then go to the ‘about us’ page. If this is the case, you’ll have the right data to know how to make sure the ‘about us’ page is giving them the right next steps towards hitting your digital goals (e.g., getting them to sign up for your newsletter, download your annual report, make a donation).

7. What percentage of visitors use internal site search?

If you see a large percentage of visitors using your site’s internal search function, then it may be a sign that your current navigation isn’t working well for audiences. If they can’t easily find the information they are looking for on your site, it’s a great opportunity to reassess how your navigation menu is being used and consider making changes.

Go through these seven questions the next time you log into your Google Analytics dashboard. In addition to giving you some important targeted data and insights, it is also a great stepping off exercise to dig even deeper into the data.

Need a little more help in getting started with Google Analytics?

If you are still having trouble wrapping your head around your web analytics data, give us a shout. We’d be happy to talk through your pain points and help you get clarity.