Google Analytics: See What’s Cooking

Google Analytics is a tool that collects and analyzes data from your website that you can use for evidence-based problem-solving. Like tasting a recipe during the cooking process and then deciding it needs more seasoning, Google Analytics lets you get a flavor for how your website is performing and where it might be missing an ingredient.

You work hard on your website. But did you know that with Google Analytics, your website can work hard for you, too? If you’ve ever wondered how your users find you, what they might be looking for as they move around your site’s pages or how effective your social media channels are in delivering traffic to your website, Google Analytics can help.

A Different Kind of Cookie

What makes Google Analytics work is a small piece of text – javascript – that’s added to each of your webpages. This is the technology that engages with visitors on your website. It recognizes:

  • New and returning visitors
  • Their entry and exit pages
  • How much time they spend on each page
  • More

The way it does this is by placing a cookie in the visitor’s web browser. This cookie allows Google Analytics to follow along and see what users do while they’re on your website. It can also recognize returning visitors so that you can see how much of your website traffic is from regular visitors versus people who only visit once.

That piece of javascript also helps keep track of how well your website is performing for visitors, such as the average:

  • Page load time
  • Domain lookup time
  • Server response time
  • Page download time

Websites that load too slowly can frustrate visitors and deter them from continuing on your website or even coming back.

When you log in and view the Google Analytics dashboard, you can see all of this data and get a good idea of whether or not your site is meeting your users’ needs and whether you need to work with a digital agency to improve your content marketing strategies.

The Two Main Ingredients: Dimensions and Metrics

Google Analytics displays the data it has collected in several ways, and you can customize your dashboard to get access to the data you need quickly. Generally speaking, though, you get information in two ways: dimensions and metrics. Dimensions are attributes, like how you would describe a visitor such as what country they are from and what device they used. Metrics are the actual numbers, whether that’s time spent, the number of visits, page load time, bounce rate, and more.

Google Analytics users can pull and compare dimensions and metrics data in a variety of ways for a full picture of how well their website performs in terms of content and operation. For example, if you discover that your most-visited pages have a lower average page load time, then you may need to optimize the performance of those pages. If your target market is North America but most of your visitors are coming from Europe, you probably need a good content writer to revise some of your site content.

Website owners can view their data over time and compare two timeframes. For example, you can look at website traffic for last week, last month or last year. You can also compare January of this year to January of last year. This can be especially helpful in monitoring the performance of smaller campaigns or website changes as well as long-term marketing efforts or say, results before and after hiring a content writer.

Serving Up Valuable Data

Google Analytics also delivers information about users’ activity on your website. You can view what search terms people are using in your website’s search box. You can also explore multi-channel funnels and assisted conversions. This is valuable data you can use to identify areas of strength and weakness on your website. If you’ve ever wondered how many visits it takes to achieve customer conversion, why shoppers might abandon carts before completing the checkout process, or whether your bounce rate for a particular page suggests it isn’t giving visitors what they need, the Google Analytics data for your site can help answer those questions and show you where changes are needed.

Traffic and Engagement: Like Peas and Carrots

The data you get from Google Analytics can help you increase your website traffic, understand your visitors’ behavior and increase conversions. More than just tables and graphs, Google Analytics lets users drill down for a more granular look. Sure, it’s great to know that more of your traffic is coming from social media channels but which ones and in what percentages? A digital agency can use information like that to determine where your marketing resources are best spent. If your bounce rate on certain pages is really high, you probably need to revise the content on those pages to better persuade visitors to stay. A firm understanding of Google Analytics gives you the power to investigate specific campaigns and conduct ROI analysis, showing you where better content writing and digital marketing can make a difference.

A Recipe for Ongoing Success

Google Analytics provides a snapshot of your website’s activity. To obtain the greatest benefit, it’s a good idea to regularly review the data and compare data over time so that you can make changes as needed. Just like swapping out canned tomatoes for fresh ones in your family sauce recipe, there will be times that you can use Google Analytics data to see where the time is right to make small changes that deliver big results. Continual fine-tuning of content marketing and digital marketing efforts are a regular part of running a business, and Google Analytics provides you with the data you need for making changes based on evidence.

If you’d like a little help cooking up success, reach out to us. We’re a full-service digital agency skilled in content and digital marketing strategies tailored to your taste.

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