Google Analytics The Basics

By | March 6, 2010

Posted on 02. Mar, 2010 by Pete Hollier in Search Optimization

The age old adage you get what you pay for is in most cases true with the exception of Google Analytic which is free. The Google Analytic application to monitor web site performance is a powerful tool that is often under utilized by many web site owners who just barely scratch the surface of its capabilities.

Google Analytic: Getting Started

There are a number of quick check reports that are invaluable to web site owners, some of the more important reports include:


The visitors report provides an indication of how well your web site is engaging your visitors by providing data in the Visitor Summary such as:

  • Average page views: The average number of pages viewed by visitors.
  • Time on site: How long your visitors spent on your site.
  • Bounce rate: What percentage of visitors are leaving your site without viewing additional pages.

Included within the Visitor’s drop down menu are a number of additional reports which are highly recommended depending on your requirements.

Benchmarking report: The Benchmarking Report provides an excellent indication of how well your site performs compares to the average of the competitiors in your niche, and provides a clear indication of whether or not you have to improve your web site promotion strategies. There is one catch to this report, to gain access to this comparative analysis you must agree to share you Analytic data with Google for comparative analysis.

Map Overlay: If your business targets a specific geographic area the Map Overlay is a report you should not ignore. It not only provides a report outlining the country of the visitors origin, but can also drill down to cities to provide you an indication of how well your web site marketing programs are working for such tactics as Local Search or advertising.

Mobile: Viewing the Mobile Report may just offer a few surprises to many web site owners as to how often the web site is being accessed by mobile devices. The Mobile Report may encourage you to consider developing pages specifically for Mobile devices which can potentially offer benefits in Mobile Search.

Visitor Loyalty: The Visitor Loyalty reports include a wealth of information in addition to the Visitor’s Summary Report. Some of the more notable reports providing additional information on how well you are engaging your visitors include:

  • Loyalty: Reports on how often visitors are returning to the site.
  • Depth of visit: Provides a percentage break down of how many pages are visited.
  • Recency: Reports on the time span between first visits and additional visits.

Traffic Sources

To monitor and improve your web site promotion initiatives it is important to understand where your web site traffic is originating. Google Analytic provides this information within the Traffic Sources section. Reports of interest include:

Direct Traffic: The Direct Traffic Report provides an indication of the percentage of visitors which have accessed your web site directly, these could be from a Book Mark or typing the URL into a web browser. This report can assist you to determine the level of public awareness of your web site from either off line marketing initiatives, or to some extent Email marketing or Social Media Marketing programs.

Referring Sites: The web sites referring traffic to your web site are an important part of your traffic generating mix. Understanding which sites deliver traffic to your site can indicate the value of the Blogs you comment on regularly, the effectiveness of your Twitter or Facebook presence, and also provides an indication of how well targeted your link building program has been.

Search Engines: Search Engines are the primary reason you implement an Organic Search Engine Optimization Program. The Search Engine Report when read in conjunction with the Keyword Report also under the Traffic Sources tab provides detailed information about which Search Engines are delivering traffic for specific keywords.


The reports under the Content category provide a wealth of information which can assist you to determine web page popularity, and also identify pages which are not performing to their maximum potential. Of particular interest in this section are:

Top Content: The Top Content Report lists your pages from the most to least visited. Within this report is also important page by page data such as Bounce Rate, Time on Page, Exit Rate and if Ecommerce is used on the site, information about the financial value of the page is also provided.

  • Bounce Rate: If the bounce rate of a page is high it is recommended a review of the page is undertaken to determine how to improve the page.
  • Time on Page: Consideration must be given to the page content to determine if visitors are utilizing this page as expected. If the time falls short your expectation of how long visitors should spend on a page, it indicates the page may need some revision.
  • Exit Rate: Exit rate can be some what subjective and there may well be very good reasons people are exiting via a specific page. However, if the exit page is partially way through the conversion funnel, then close examination of the page is warranted.

Site Overlay: Ever wondered what links are being clicked on your web site? The Site Overlay Report identifies which links are clicked on each page. This information must be analyzed with some consideration of how important or popular you expect a specific link to be. Also it may indicate that an important link within your site is not properly labeled, or in a poor position if it is not achieving the click throughs you would expect.

The Last Word

Although there is some overlap in many of the reports available through Google Analytic, it is a powerful tool to assist you to determine how well your web site and promotional efforts are performing. The reports reviewed here are the basics which must be reviewed as part of your web site monitoring program. In the weeks to come I will provide additional information on how to really leverage the power of Google advanced analytical processes.