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Understanding Google Analytics

If some of you are new to the website thing; you have a lot to learn, but don’t be overwhelmed by it all.  One of the applications that is going to be a help for you to understand where some of of your traffic is coming from or doing on your site is Google Analytics.  If you are new to analytics, there will be some confusion as to what is what.  We will try to demystify some of the confusion new users have with the application.

Let’s all assume that you have signed up for the service, you have the code installed properly on your website, and Google is collecting data.  When you first login to the interface, you are going to be greeted with your dashboard.  The dashboard is nice and pretty, but what is it actually telling you?

Things you want to look for on your dashboard page are:

  • Visits: This is the number of visitors that access your page during your specified Analytics metrics data range.  Visits represent individual sessions for users visiting your site where a session is a period of activity.  If the user exceeds 30 minutes of inactivity or leaves your site for 30 minutes and then revisits, this will be counted as a new visit.
  • Pageviews: A pageview is counted when a user visits a page on your site.  If the user refreshes the page or returns to the page this will count as an additional page view. The higher the better!
  • Pages/Visit: This is the number of pageviews divided by the number of visitors
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate can be defined as a user visiting a page on your site and then leaving immediately after viewing that page without clicking or visiting anything else on your site.  If this is a high number, then you have some work to do.  This can indicate that the visitor didn’t find the information they wanted on that page or didn’t find the information relevant enough to warrant visiting another page.
  • Average Time on Site: This is self explanatory, but is a good indicator to the quality of the content on your site.  If your bounce rate is high but the average time on site is low, it may indicate that your content isn’t being read at all.  Conversely, if your average time on site is high but your page views are low, your article may be long but isn’t generating any interested in visiting other areas of your site.  You may be able to directly affect your bounce rate and increase your page views by splitting longer articles into multiple pages.
  • New Visits: This may be clear or confusing to you but Google calculates this based on a user visiting your site without having an Analytics cookie in their browser.  This may not be a good indicator however, as many users clear their cookies regularly or have the process automated.  This may also increase as new visitors access your site because of relevent content discovered from search engines.  This is a good lead in to examining where your content is coming from.

If you have a high number of new visits and the majority of your visitors are “direct” vs “search engine” it is a good indication that your users are simply clearing their cookies.  If the majority of your visitors make their way to your site via search engines or referring sites then you are doing your job well.  This is now showing you that fresh content is delivering new visitors to your site.

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About Joe DiFiglia

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.

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