After opening a Google Analytics account your will have to wait for it to gather information. It may take up to 24 hours for Google to start processing information from your site. But if you start seeing statistics after you log in to your account, you may now start monitoring your traffic.
Look at the overview. Each site has a dashboard, or a central place to view the most important statistics about your traffic. After you log in to your account, click the “View Reports” link to go to the dashboard. At the top of your dashboard, you will see a line graph showing you, if applicable, the traffic to your site over the past month. You can change this view to show any time period and statistic. But first, let’s define some key terms in Google Analytics:
- Visits – the number of unique individuals who have visited your site.
- Pageviews – often called “hits”, this is how many times your site was viewed.
- Pages/Visit – as you can probably guess, this is the average number of pages each visitor looks at before they move on.
- Bounce Rate – this is what percentage of viewers looked at the first page they came to and then left. You want this number to be as low as possible.
- Avg. Time on Site – the average length of time spent by each visitor on your site.
- % New Visits – how many visitors were new (obviously).
Your dashboard will give you a snapshot of all these statistics. Under those statistics is a colorized map of where your visitors are browsing from. The darker the green, the more people are visiting in that country. The “Content Overview” will show you the most popular pages for the requested period of time, which is very handy in analyzing content and what your readers are looking for.
Next to that is the “Traffic Sources Overview”: a pie chart detailing where your readers are coming from. Common sources include direct traffic (they entered in your URL manually), search engines, and referring sites, meaning visitors clicked on a link from another site that led to your site. Viewing this report will allow you to drill down to different traffic sources: what they are, how long visitors from those sources are staying, and so on. This will let you analyze your traffic sources and determine where you should focus your efforts on. For example, if valuable traffic is coming from one site where visitors are sticking around and reading multiple pages, you know that visitors from that site are high quality, and you should work hard to maintain a good presence there.
If you’d like to know more about your visitors and what they are like, you can click the “Visitors” tab on the left side. This tab will let you figure out what types of browsers your visitors are using, what operating systems they are running, how loyal they are, and so on. Finding out how long their visits are with a breakdown by 10-second increments is another valuable tool. If you want a successful site, you need to be analyzing your traffic, and Google Analytics allows you that opportunity – for free.