Google Analytics gives you detailed statistics about your website traffic and visitors. You will need to set up an account at http://www.google.com/analytics/, enter your website URL and some other basic information, in order to get your Google Analytics ID. Then you can enable the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin and enter your Google Analytics ID (also known as your UA code). Once you do that, your website is set up to track visitor data.
- The data from Google Analytics, like any other web tracking software, is not perfect. There are nuances in interpretation as well as technical variables that can skew the data. When dealing with small sample sizes, you will often see wild fluctuations in the data.
- All visits to your website, including your own, are tracked in Google Analytics. This means that the numbers are somewhat skewed by your own visits. By default with the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, all visits from logged in users, that are level Editor and above, are excluded.
- Time on Site is more accurately defined as “time on site minus the time spent on the last page visited.” So it is not exact, but it is useful for relative comparisons (i.e. if your average time on site goes up or down from one month to the next).
The first screen you get to should be the Dashboard. Here you can see a snapshot of the past 30 days’ activity on your website. You can also access the data through the navigation on the left-hand side. If you want to change the date range, you can find a drop-down menu in the upper right. When you click it, you can change the date range by clicking dates in the calendar or typing them in manually. You can also compare two date ranges by checking the “Compare to Past” box and adjusting the date ranges if necessary. When you change the date range, the new date range will be in effect for all pages/reports you go to within Google Analytics. When you sign out of Google Analytics, the date range is reset to the default of the past 30 days.
The graph at the top of the dashboard can be customized. There is a drop-down menu at the upper left of the graph. “Visits” is selected by default. Below, there are several modules on the dashboard that provide overviews of common statistics. At the bottom of each module there is a link labeled “view report”. You can click those links to get to more detailed information.
New visitors are not always accurately tracked. If a visitor to your site clears his or her browser before visiting again, or a lot of time passes between his or her visits to your site, Google Analytics could count those visits as coming from separate visitors.
This is broken down into Direct Traffic, Referring Sites, and Search Engines. If you click “view report” and go to the bottom of the page you will see your top sources and keywords. A Referring Site visit occurs when someone clicks a link from another website that takes them to your site. This data lets you know which of your profiles, or sites you are affiliated with, are bringing you the most traffic. You may also find websites that you never knew linked to yours. Keyword data is also very useful. It tells you what search terms people have successfully used to find your website.
This breaks down the data by page. Here you can find which pages people go to the most. You can see how long they spend on those pages relative to the others. To see the detailed data, you will need to go to the page Content > Top Content.
This shows you where your visitors are coming from. Once you get to the city level, the data is not always exact, but it should be geographically close. Sometimes, your visitors’ Internet connections are routed through neighboring cities. In such cases, the visitor location will be logged as coming from that neighboring city.
Some referring traffic may be broken up into multiple domains/sources. For example, for Facebook traffic, you need to add up l.facebook.com, m.facebook.com, and lm.facebook.com. The m.facebook.com referrer is when someone is on a mobile device, l.facebook.com is when someone clicks on a shared link in Facebook from a non-mobile device, and lm.facebook.com is when someone clicks on a shared link in Facebook from a mobile device.
A goal describes something specific a visitor does on your site, and a conversion is counted whenever that happens. From the Google Analytics explanation:
Analytics lets you define four different types of goals that users can achieve during a visit:
- Destination: the user reaches a specified web page or app screen.
- Duration: the user spends a specified minimum amount of time on your site or app.
- Pages/Screens per visit: the user views a specified minimum number of pages or screens.
- Event: the user conducts a specified action, like viewing a video.
The most common goal is probably the destination URL. It’s easy to set up and analyze. Typically, you use the URL of the “thank you” page that someone can only visit after completing a specific process, such as signing up for an email list or purchasing an item on your site.
You can have up to 20 goals. In Google Analytics, the statistics can be found in the Conversions > Goals menu.
Goal URLs submenu: this shows you how many conversions you get for each goal.
Reverse Goal Path submenu: this shows the steps visitors took before reaching the goal. For example, if your goal is signing up for an email list, and you have an opt-in form on multiple pages, this will show you which pages yielded the most signups. This is most useful for tracking one-step goals that can originate from multiple places.
Funnel Visualization and Goal Flow submenus: these show the steps in your goal funnel and help you to identify where visitors are dropping off. A funnel consists of specific steps/events you define as necessary for the goal to be completed. For example, if your goal is a purchase, your funnel could consist of the product page URL, the shopping cart URL, the checkout page URL, and the order completed URL. If only a small percentage of people make it from the checkout page to the order completed page, there is likely something wrong with your checkout process.
There are two useful charts to look at.
The Source / Medium chart
To view this, you go to Conversions > Goals > Overview. Then you have to select your goal from the “Goal Option:” drop-down (this is the first drop-down in the main panel). Then, near the bottom of the panel, on the left side, click on Source / Medium.
This will show the originating sources of this goal’s conversions. Typically this will show you referring websites.
The Funnel Visualization chart
This requires multiple steps to be specified when setting up the goal.
To view this, you go to Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization. Then you have to select your goal from the “Goal Option:” drop-down (this is the first drop-down in the main panel). Then, near the bottom of the panel, on the left side, click on Source / Medium.
This will show you where people enter and exit your funnel. It is useful for identifying where you are losing out on potential conversions.
On a two-step funnel with a sales page and a thank you page, you will see the two steps of the funnel in the center.
To the left of the sales page, you will see the pages that people visited immediately before visiting the sales page. To the right of the sales page, you will see the pages people visited immediately after visiting the sales page.
Under the sales page box, you will see the number and percentage of people who converted (went from the sales page immediately to the thank you page).
In the thank you page box, you will see the number of visits to that page, and the percentage of visits to that page over the visits to the sales page. If there is a box to the left of the thank you page, this means there were visits to the thank you page that were not immediately preceded by visits to the sales page. In most cases, you will want to ignore this visit count and percentage, as they are probably not real conversions.