he only thing constant about website data analytics is that they’re always changing – not just the numbers you’re crunching, but also the numbers that programs like Google Analytics decide are important. And while the amount of data for your site is seemingly endless, it can be overwhelming if you’re not used to it.
To help you narrow your focus, we’ve put together a list of the most important data points right now according to Google Analytics, and why they matter.
1. Conversion Rate and Goal Completions
Number one with a bullet! This has got to be your number one KPI; after all, it’s tracking the most important actions you want your users to take on the site. The goals are yours to define (sales, bookings, form submissions, newsletter signups, etc.), but they’re extremely important to track as they reflect your overall business and marketing goals. So get these bad boys established and start tracking.
2. Pages Per Session
This metric tracks the amount of browsing someone does once they’ve found your website, and will tell you whether people are taking a quick glimpse at your homepage then bouncing, or digging in for more. This matters because it measures how interesting your content is. Is your site engaging enough to bring viewers in beyond the first click? If you’re finding that people come and stay awhile, that’s great! If they’re not, it could be an indication that it’s time to revisit your copy and messaging.
3. Time on Site
This ties in with pages per session as an indicator of how much time people are spending with your content. This is useful on several fronts: if your site has a blog (like this one!), time on site will tell you how long readers spend looking at your content and clicking links to related articles. For eCommerce sites, it can tell you things like how much time visitors spend browsing your inventory. In either case, the more time spent on site, the more useful your content is as a whole (vs. just one page).
4. Location of User
Why does it matter where users are coming from if something is online? It’s part of understanding who your customers are, especially if you have products for sale. Where you’re located can have a big impact on how customers shop and what they buy – think about Wisconsin vs. Florida in January, for example. Google Analytics takes an in-depth look at location-specific user information that includes demographics, so it’s possible to get a clear picture of who is visiting your site.
5. Landing Pages
In this case, “landing page” means the first page that visitors encounter when they come to your site. This ties in with number 6, below, to show which pages are performing well based on a number of factors like social media targeting, SEO, and digital campaigns. If your top landing page is the destination for the CTA in your Facebook ad, it’s a good indication that the campaign is effective. If people are landing on individual blog posts first, that’s a good sign that you’re doing well at optimizing for SEO. If your top landing pages seem random, however, it may be a sign to reevaluate your current tactics.
Demographics are the characteristics that paint a picture of who you are – age, gender, income, location, education, and so on. These are the first types of marketing metrics you learn about in school – and some of the most important, because demographics tell you who your customers are. You can use them to create customer personas, target advertising, and so much more. In Google Analytics, demographics can also include interests.
7. Source/Medium and Referrals
Knowing how your audience is finding you is key to understanding how your marketing channels are driving traffic. Putting a lot of effort into social media and seeing a lack of traffic coming from Facebook? Time to reassess. Same goes with SEO or any marketing tactics that are going to show results over time. In order to understand whether your efforts, budget, or time is paying off, you’re going to want to keep a sharp eye on where your web traffic is coming from.
This list isn’t exhaustive of the data you can find in programs like Google Analytics by any means, but if you keep an eye on these seven areas – not just in real time but as trends over time – they can give you a good idea of the overall health of your website and associated marketing campaigns.