You can set up a report in your analytics that will show you visitors from the search engines to your website using key phrases that do not contain your brand or company name. You can use this data to see if your site is getting found in the search engines from SEO efforts, as opposed to merely searching for you by name.
Click on the “Audience” menu in Google Analytics, and then the “Overview” report. This overview shows some important statistics for your site.
The first is “Visits,” which is the number of visits (separate sessions) to your site. This may be the same person visiting twice in two different browser sessions, or it could be two different people. Either one counts as a visit.
“Unique Visitors” eliminates those visits that came from a repeat IP address during the selected time period. Both are valuable to track over time.
Keep in mind, if you’re comparing calendar months of data, and you get fairly regular daily traffic, shorter months will get less traffic than longer months. Make sure you are comparing the same number of days, or even better, compare that month to the same month from the previous year in order to view year-over-year changes in traffic. This also eliminates any seasonal changes you might have in your business.
% New Visits
What percentage of visitors were “new” as opposed to “returning” visitors. Technically, a “new” visitor is someone who does not already have the Google Analytics tracking cookie for your website in their browser. Visitor tracking cookies have an expiration of two years, so a “new” visitor should be someone who has not visited your site in at least two years. However, if the user deletes cookies from their browser (as people tend to do every so often), or if they are visiting your site on a different device (work computer, mobile phone, etc.), they would be counted as a “new” visitor again the next time they come to your site. This is a good way to measure new versus returning visitors in general, but take these numbers with a grain of salt.
The bounce rate shows you how many people landed on a page and then immediately left without viewing another page on your site. Most of the time a bounce is a bad thing, unless a person came for one very specific purpose on that page only (for example, to a “directions” page to get directions to your location). Over time, you should see the number of unique visitors increasing and the bounce rate decreasing. It’s difficult to say what a “normal” bounce rate is—there are simply too many factors involved—but some say a good bounce rate is one that is going down. Certainly over 50% is a very bad bounce rate.
Aim to improve your site, make it more relevant to the search terms people use to find your site, and try to get users to take further action on your site through persuasive architecture. These steps will lower your bounce rate by keeping users engaged. It doesn’t make sense to spend lots of effort driving traffic to your site, only to let visitors “bounce” and leave your site without seeing all of your content.
This report is found in the Content menu, under “Site Content” and then “Exit Pages.” It gives you a breakdown of the number of exits, pageviews, and the percentage of exits as a percentage of pageviews. An “exit” page is the final page that a visitor sees before leaving your site. Top exit pages are a great place to start optimizing, because they are likely not doing a good job of pushing users through the site. To decrease exit rates, add calls to action and other conversion enhancements, as well as links to content that you want your visitor to find. Many people confuse bounce rates and exit rates. An exit is the last page a user visited, even if they visited other pages prior to the exit page. A bounce is a single-page visit, when someone hits just one page and exits immediately without viewing another page.
Also found in the “Content” section of Google Analytics, a “landing page” is the first page that a user hits on your site. Make sure the top landing pages offer relevant information and drive users to view additional content or take further action on the site.
In particular, look for landing pages that have a high number of entrances and a high bounce rate. Such pages are costing you a lot of visitors, so you should work to lower the bounce rate on these pages. Do this by giving visitors the information they need right away, then sending them to other relevant pages through obvious and well-marked links.
This is the total number of views of a page on your website (in the Audience Overview report, this includes all of the pages on your website). A user visiting the home page and then two other pages would have viewed three pages total, and each page would have one pageview.
Pages per visit is the average number of pages each visitor looks at before they move on to another site. It is calculated as the total number of pageviews divided by the total number of visits. Generally, you want to engage visitors and get them to view more than a few pages on your site because deeper engagement equates to better conversion rates and loyalty.
Average Visit Duration
This is the average length of time spent by each visitor on your site. This can be a good measure of how engaging your website is, and if it offers deep content that keeps people on the site. The longer people stay, the more likely you can entice them with an offer, if your website is properly designed.
Frequency and Recency
This set of reports is found in the “Behavior” section of the Audience menu. Frequency (shown in the “count of visits” report) shows how many people visited only once and how many came two or three times or more. If people are coming back often then they are more loyal. Loyalty is good.
Recency, shown in the “Days Since Last Visit” report, shows the gap between visits. Do people come back as often as you publish new content?
Considering people often don’t buy on the first visit, you should be tracking their engagement over multiple visits, as they flow through the stages of the buying cycle while eating up your content designed for each stage.
New Visitors versus Returning Visitors
Also in the “Behavior” section (and shown in the Overview report as well), this is the number of new visitors (first-time) versus returning visitors (people who have been to your site before). The “new visitors” percentage is the same as the “% new visits” data listed in the Overview report. If a cookie is not present on the visitor’s computer—or they cleared out cookies or are using a different device—they will be shown as a new visitor each time, so don’t take this as a perfect metric. It can be useful to look at over time to see if you are gaining a more loyal audience.
In-page analytics shows you visually how users interact with your web pages. It will show you a percentage for every link on your site and, when you mouse over the percentages, the number of people who click on each link. Are users finding what they’re looking for or seeing the content you want them to see? This report will help you find places you could improve. You may be quite surprised when you see the links people click and the ones they don’t.