I have a very bad habit and maybe you can identify with this. For some of my higher traffic sites, I tend to look at my Google Analytics data a few times a day to see what’s happening, see what traffic volume is like, see where my visitors have come from, see if a post has caught the perfect wave on Twitter or Facebook and so on. I don’t recommend this. It’s a time waster!
Google Analytics is awesome for being able to give you lots of data on your visitors. It can help you go beyond the number of visitors that your website gets on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, but also get more specific information about your visitors.
Your Google Analytics data is a goldmine of information about your users but in order to use it, it’s time to think less like an SEO expert and more like a marketer. Marketers take data from sources like Google Analytics and they extrapolate the information to make it usable. Does it matter how many visitors your website gets, how they got there, your target keywords etc. if you never take action on this valuable information?
What Does Thinking Like a Marketer Look Like?
Thinking like a marketer requires you to look at the Analytics data provided to you and think about what it means. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or have an MBA to do this either; You have to think more like a private investigator to connect the dots with your analytics data.
Below are some insights into your Google Analytics data that will help you think like marketers and get inside the head of your target market, all from the metrics that Google Analytics is already tracking about your website.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate should never be overlooked because it can tell you a few things about your visitors. If your bounce rate is high (over 50% in most cases) it could mean that your visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for when visiting your website so they don’t stick around to read your other pages. It could mean that you didn’t give them any options in terms of letting them find something else interesting on your site, like a related story, an image or a video that they can click on to go to another page on your website. It could be something as simple as having a slow server and your visitors were annoyed when the site wouldn’t load properly. Simply put, find out the reason for your high bounce rate and fix it.
Device Type – This has become very important in the past 12 months as mobile device usage has gone through the roof. Take a look at what devices people are using to access your website. Beyond a standard computer (desktop or laptop) it’s inevitable that you have visitors coming to your website from a mobile device or iPad. Does your website even have a mobile version? If you don’t have a mobile site and you’re seeing mobile devices coming to your site in your Analytics data, it’s time to get that in motion. Every day that you ignore the stat means you’re missing out on giving your visitors a good mobile experience, free from constant scrolling and zooming.
Browser – This is where it gets really fun. Check out the various browsers that people are using to access your website and look at the time of day. Do some P.I. work and think hard about this. Most likely, Internet Explorer will still be your #1 browser (unless you run a Mac related blog or something unique) but think about demographics as it relates to web browser. The only people I still know that are using IE are my parents and people that don’t realize there is another option or people surfing from company owner computers while at work.
Firefox and Chrome are used by a more tech savvy crowd because of the plugin availability while Safari is used by Mac users. Mac users are a diverse group of people, but generally it means that they have more money as Orbitz recently found out. Mac users will spend more money on a hotel room and they spend more money on their computers, so you can make some observations about their buying habits. This isn’t an official study in any way, but it can help you tailor your content to the users that you have visiting your website.
Social Media Sources – Take a look at your social media sources and how long those visitors stay on your website. For one of my websites, users that came through Facebook spend much more time on my website than Twitter users. This helps me decide when running a contest or promoting my content, that Facebook is a priority as Facebook users seem to love my site! Twitter users on the other hand stick around for 80% less time. They bring traffic, but it’s traffic that doesn’t seem to like the site as much as Facebook users.
Make Your Own Conclusions
While none of the tips above are scientific or the product of intensive analysis, they do give you a glimpse into your users and their habits. How the data translates into actionable steps is what you need to decide.
The moral of the story is not to take data at face value and don’t just let data sit without taking action on it. All the numbers, charts and graphs in your Analytics account mean something, so take the time to work with the data to see what it means to you and your website visitors. At the end of the day you’re looking for more conversions, more engagement and your Google Analytics data holds the answers to some of these questions.
Guest post by Jonathon Hyjek
Jonathon is the owner of Blake Strategies Group, an online marketing & SEO company based in London, Ontario, Canada. With over 5 years experience in SEO, Local Search, Social Media & Online Marketing, Jonathon works with small & medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations to help them connect with their target market through traditional SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media.