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16Apr
2015

Google Analytics Part One: Key Terms Defined and Explained

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This is part one of a two part article on the basics of using Google Analytics. If you don’t have Google Analytics and would like to learn more about adding it to your site, just let us know and we’d be happy to help.

But let’s say you do have Google Analytics but aren’t exactly sure how to get the most out of it or what it can really do for you. Then this two part series is for you.

To start, let’s go over the most common terms used when looking at or talking about Google Analytics and what they could mean for an eCommerce site. In the next article, I’ll cover the basics of putting Google Analytics to work and understanding the data.

Common Google Analytics Terms Defined:

Average Time on Site: The average amount of time a visitor stays on your site. You can customize this data to look at certain time periods if you want. This data is useful for knowing how long it takes people to buy a product or leave. If they were only there a short time and bought something, you know your site is efficient. It didn’t take them long to find what they wanted and complete the transaction. If you find it’s taking customers a long time to complete their transaction, there might be a spot in your sales process that slowed them down and its worth looking into.

Bounce Rate: The amount of visitors who only looked at one page before leaving. If you have a high bounce rate, this can tell you that visitors didn’t find what they were searching for when they reached your site. The way to fix this might be to change the wording of your ads or making some changes to the pages your visitors usually find first (landing pages).

eCommerce Conversion: This will show how many visitors turned into buyers. If you have a lot of traffic but low conversions, you might not be targeting the right people with your SEO.

Exit Page/Top Exit Page: Google Analytics can tell you exactly where someone left your site. If you notice that a lot of people always leave in a certain spot, you know that you need to make some changes. Maybe there’s something confusing in your checkout process that’s causing them to leave. Finding a high exit rate on a specific page can really help you discover an area that needs improvement.

Funnels: This is something you create in Google Analytics. You can track your sales funnel on your site – from homepage to product page to shopping cart. Like the exit pages, this can be helpful to see where visitors are leaving your sales funnel. You can use this data to make adjustments in those spots.

Goals: Google Analytics lets you set goals to track. For example, a goal might be a conversion rate for a certain product. Or a goal could be very general and be any conversion. Or it could be newsletter signups or some other action on your site that you want to track. This can be helpful to track, simply to watch for any changes in the numbers over time.

Keywords: Anytime someone uses a search engine to get to your site, Google Analytics will record the search terms they used to find you. This is incredibly helpful for increasing your search ranking. When you know that a lot of people use a certain term to find you, you can edit your site content to include more of those specific terms. This can help boost your search ranking.

Landing Page/Top Landing Page: This is the first page that a visitor views of your site. It’s usually your homepage but Google Analytics can tell you the other pages your visitors are landing on.

Loyalty: You can tell how loyal your visitors are. Google Analytics can tell you how many times specific visitors come to your site during a set date range. Low loyalty can be a sign that you should update your content more regularly.

Page views: Google Analytics will count how many times each individual page is viewed. This is a helpful because it will show you which of your pages are the most popular and which are the least. It can really help you target your customers better and improve weak spots in your website.

Traffic Sources: Google Analytics will tell you exactly where your traffic is coming from which can help you figure out where you can boost your efforts to pick up traffic in any of these channels. It can tell you what search engines people came from or if you’re getting traffic from ads or other websites altogether.

  • Direct Traffic: This is any traffic that comes from a user actually typing in your store’s web address into their browser or using one of their bookmarks to get to your site.
  • Organic Traffic / Search Traffic: Traffic that comes from unpaid, natural search engine results.
  • Paid Traffic: Traffic that comes from paid ads or paid search terms.
  • Referral Traffic: Traffic that comes from a link on another website. Perhaps a blog mentions your company or someone found your link on a social media site like Facebook.

Unique Visitors: This tells you how many individual visitors have come to your site during a set time period. This does not count any return visits. This gives you a more accurate picture of your traffic since the number won’t be inflated by someone who came to your site multiple times. This number can give you a sense of loyalty as well as your reach – how many customers are you really reaching in a certain time period like a week or a month?

Visit Duration: The amount of time someone spends on your site. This is more important than it may seem at first glance. Of course you want people to engage with your site and spend time looking at and buying your products. But visit duration is also important for your search engine rankings. Search engines view long visitor duration as a good thing. It makes them consider your site more relevant if people like to visit and stay a while. If you have a low visit duration, this probably means you need to add more content like blog articles or more product information for visitors to look at.

Stay tuned for our next article in this series, where we’ll look at some ways to put Google Analytics data to work for your site.

Part Two is now published here.

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