9 Essential Analytics Reports Website Owners Must Use
We all know we need to use website analytics to optmize our marketing strategies, but do you know how to interpret the data?
If you have a website, then chances are you have the goal of getting more visitors to it. Whether you are the website owner or a marketer, your job is to find out how, what, where, and why in order to fine-tune your website marketing strategies. In this guide, we’ll share with you the nine website analytics reports you need to familiarize yourself with to get the most out of your website analytics data.
1. Get an overview of your website traffic with the Visitors Overview.
When you open your website analytics, the first screen you will be greeted by is your Visitors Overview. Here, you will find the key metrics you need to determine your website’s current traffic health.
The number of Visits you see is representative of the number of times people have come to your website.
Think of visits as a session on your website. Within one visit, a visitor may view one or more pages on your website, a number which is totaled in with the Pageviews metric. Your number of Pageviews will generally be higher than your number of Visits if you have more than one page on your website.
While the number of Visits you have over a long time period are likely to ebb and flow based on the days your website is most popular (for most websites, this will be weekdays), you can use the overall timeline of your number of Visits to catch potential problems on your website.
Here are some examples of how to use Visits to diagnose issues on your website.
● If you notice that your Visits dropped for one day and then returned to normal, it could reflect a website hosting outage or other glitch on your website.
● If you notice it has dropped for several days and has not returned to normal, it could reflect a change on your website that needs to be looked into, such as the removal of your analytics code.
● If you notice it has dropped for several days and has not returned to normal, it could also mean that you have lost a particular source of traffic that needs to be looked into, such as a specific website referrer, organic search ranking, or advertising.
● If you notice that your Visits increased for one day and then returned to normal, it could mean that you received a mention that drove a lot of instant traffic.
As a whole, the sign of a website with healthy traffic is one where the Visits stay steady or increase over time. Any declines in Visits should be researched thoroughly.
Another metric you will find in your Visitors Overview is the number of Unique Visitors who visit your website. Your website analytics will determine if a visitor is unique based on a cookie stored in their browser after their first visit. If there is no cookie, your website analytics will count the visitor as a new Unique Visitor.
For example, if someone visits your website from their desktop browser, and then they visit your website from their mobile browser, they will be counted as two Unique Visitors. Later, if they return to your website from either browser, they will be counted as a new Visit, but not a new Unique Visitor.
Unique Visitors are important when you are trying to bring new visitors to your website. For example, if you are advertising for new customers on Facebook, you will want to see your number of Unique Visitors continue to increase as your ad campaign progresses.
If you have more than one page on your website, chances are that you want visitors to browse beyond the page they enter your website upon. The number of Average Pageviews represents the average number of pages that visitors browse upon your website during a visit.
For most website owners, a higher number of pageviews during a visit ultimately results in more engagement and goal completion. For example, if you run a blog, the visitors who enter your website on a blog post and leave will not be introduced to your products or services, and thus not convert from a visitor into a customer or lead.
The visitors who enter your website on a blog post and then continue to browse more pages on your website are more likely to convert into a customer or lead by being exposed to more of your website offerings. Thus, a higher number of Average Pageviews means that your website is more successful in getting visitors to browse more of your website.
To continue increasing your number of Average Pageviews, you will need to give visitors on every page of your website a reason to click through to more pages. On blog posts, this may mean adding clear navigation to your header, image banners to your products or services, and links to additional reading throughout your content.
The only pages you would want to exclude from this are your landing pages that focus on a specific goal: making a sale, converting a lead, or opting in an email subscriber. On landing pages, you do not want to encourage visitors to go elsewhere until after they have completed the goal on the page.
Average Time on Site
No matter how many pages you have on your website, something that could always stand for improvement is your Average Time on Site. This metric shows you how long visitors stay on your website on average, regardless of the number of pages they view.
In general, if you notice you have a 30 second or below average, it tells you that majority of people who visit your website are not there long enough to complete a specific goal, such as make a purchase, submit a lead form, or optin to your email list.
Hence, your goal will be to figure out how to keep visitors on your website longer. Some steps you can take for this include clearer navigation to ensure people quickly can find what they are looking for, adding video content, and adding more content.
2. Test the results of specific actions in real time with Last Guests.
Want to know what is happening your website right now? Try the Last Guests report. This will show you how many visitors you have on your website right now, where they came from, and what they are doing on your website.
If you are running any specific tests on your website, such as launching a new page, or if you are running any specific campaigns, such as a new ad on Facebook, the Last Guests report will show you the immediate results. Respectively, it will show you whether people are going to your new page or clicking on your ad.
In addition, you can see a log of the most recent visitors to your website with basic details on where they are located, where they came from, what they did on your website, and the technology they used.
3. Learn about your visitor’s Browser Capabilities to ensure your website functions properly.
Whenever you make a major change to your website, it’s important to review the reports under Browser Capabilities for a while to ensure that everyone is able to access and use your website based on their technology.
Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are going to be the most widely-used browsers by most of your visitors. If you notice that the metrics for these browsers vary dramatically, such as your Safari visitors having a significantly shorter Average Time on Site than your Chrome visitors, it may be a good idea to test your website in Safari to ensure it is functioning correctly.
4. Find out if you need to be more mobile friendly with Mobile Devices.
In addition to knowing if a visitor’s browser affects their experience on your website, regularly reviewing mobile device usage can also help ensure that everyone has a great experience on your website. First, knowing that you have a high number of iPhone and Android users can let you know whether it’s time to invest in a responsive or mobile-friendly website design. Second, it can show you if mobile users are having issues on your website, based on their Average Time on Site and Pages per Visit.
5. Determine what marketing strategies are working best with Traffic Sources.
There are three types of traffic that come to your website: Direct Traffic, Referral Source, and Organic Search.
● Direct Traffic refers to any traffic that does not have an trackable referral source, such as when people type your URL into their browser’s address bar or access it from a local browser bookmark.
● Referral Source refers to any traffic that comes from a trackable referral source other than a search engine. This includes traffic from social networks and other web pages that link to your website.
● Organic Search refers to any traffic that comes from people using search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Search, and Yandex.
Referral Source and Organic Search reports will help you determine what marketing strategies are driving the most visitors to your website. You can use the Referral Source report to find out if you get more visitors from Facebook versus Twitter, Yelp versus MerchantCircle, or one advertising source versus another.
You can use the Organic Search reports to monitor your traffic from the top search engines to determine if your keyword rankings are increasing in visibility thanks to a strong SEO campaign or decreasing in visibility thanks to the latest updates in search algorithms.
You can also use these reports to determine which referral sources and search engines drive the most quality visitors to your website. For example, if you see that one referral source drives a lot of visitors to your website, but has an Average Time on Site of three seconds while your overall Average Time on Site is fifty seconds, then it may indicate that the referral source may not be as great of a traffic source as you thought.
Overall, if you are running specific marketing campaigns to drive visitors to your website, you will want to constantly monitor your Referral Source and Organic Search reports to determine whether those campaigns are successful. Using the data from these reports, you can determine whether you should focus more energy into one strategy over another based on the amount of visitors you receive and the quality of those visits.
6. Find out what your visitors really want with your Top Content.
The Top Content report for your website can help you determine a number of things about your overall marketing strategy. For starters, it can show you the most popular page on your website. For most websites, this is going to be either a homepage, top product page, or top piece of content on a blog.
Once you know what the top content is on your website, you can make sure it is optimized for conversions. Here are just a few things you can do based on the type of top content on your website.
● If you notice it is a blog post, you may want to check the post page itself to make sure it is leading visitors to check out your products or services, contact form, or email list optin.
● If you notice it is a category page for your products, you may want to update that page to show your most popular products at the top so visitors can find them easier to make a purchase.
● If you notice it is your homepage, you may want to update that page to highlight one or more of your top products or services.
When viewing the metrics for your top content, it’s important to note specific metrics such as Average Time on Site, Site Speed, and Bounce Rate. These will help you determine which pages on your website keep people on your website longer, have load timing issues, and encourage people to continue browsing other pages on your website.
If you have a page in your top ten that is performing poorly compared to others, it is crucial that you go into determine how to solve any issues that could be affecting your user’s experience, such as poor content, slow loading due to a large image, or a lack of clear navigation.
7. Get insight into what visitors are doing on your website using Events.
If you need data beyond pageviews and bounce rates, you will want to set up event tracking on your website. The Events reporting feature allows you to track specific actions that your visitors take on your website in your website analytics.
Examples of actions you can track include clicking on outgoing links, playing embedded videos, or downloading a whitepaper. Tracking these actions will allow you to determine if resources you are sharing are valuable to your visitors, if your visitors like your latest video, and if your visitors are downloading the in-depth content you share.
8. Track the results your website gets with Goals.
No matter what type of website you run, you likely have a conversion that you want many of your visitors to complete. That conversion may be to make a purchase, submit a lead form, subscribe to your email list, comment on your blog posts, share your blog posts on social media, play your videos, or something similar.
This is where goal tracking comes into play. When you set up goals inside your website analytics, your website analytics can tell you when visitors complete a specific goal based on whether they land on a confirmation page, click a specific button, spend a certain time on your website, or something else that you specify.
Once you have goals set up, you can use Goal reports to determine the traffic sources, content, location of, and browsing habits of visitors who make conversions on your website. This will help you further refine your website marketing strategy.
Whenever you set up your website analytics, be sure to take some time to think of the conversions you want to track on your website analytics and include that in your basic analytics setup. This will allow you to collect highly valuable data for years to come.
9. Identify your visitors using Custom Variables.
Want to go further with your website analytics? Then Custom Variables are the answer. Custom Variables allow you to track your visitors in new ways throughout your website. Here are just a few examples of how you can use Custom Variables to get more out of your analytics data.
● If your website’s main goal is content publishing, you can use Custom Variables to track the performance of content by specific authors, content categories, and content tags. You can also track the behavior of your readers based on actions they take such as commenting and sharing your posts on social media.
● If your website’s main goal is ecommerce sales, you can use Custom Variables to track visitors who view an item, view a category of items, add items to their shopping cart, and make a purchase.
● If your website’s main goal is to capture leads, you can use Custom Variables to track visitors who submit your lead form versus those that just subscribe to your email newsletter.
● If your website’s main goal is to get new registered members for a forum, application, or other service, you can use Custom Variables to track logged in users versus those not signed in to their account.
These are only a few examples of the many ways you can use Custom Variables. As you are browsing your standard web analytics reports, think of the different ways you would like visualize your data based on the types of visitors that come to your website and the things they do. Then create Custom Variables to make it happen.
As you can see, there are many ways you can use website analytics to troubleshoot potential problems, determine your overall website marketing success, and help you decide on the right tactics to use to drive traffic.