Anybody who is serious about their online marketing won’t simply have a website that they take bookings through or spend a bit of time on their social media and email activity – they’ll monitor it closely also. This means delving into Facebook Insights every now and then, making sure your emails are generating clicks and seeing are people making enquiries via online channels. It also means monitoring the performance of your website.
The best (and cheapest, since it’s free) way to keep track on your website’s performance is by using Google Analytics. Once you’re set up you’ll have access to lots of extremely valuable information. This includes…
A session is an amount of time somebody has actively engaged in your website. This means browsing, clicking, downloading and everything in between.
Users are the number of people who visit your website. So if one person was on your website three separate times, that would be one user and three sessions. It includes both new and returning visitors.
Page views are just that – the number of times pages are viewed. So let’s say one person logs on to your website three times and visits three pages on each visit. This means your ‘Users’ is one, your ‘Sessions’ is three and ‘Page Views’ is nine.
Again, this is pretty self-explanatory – this is the average number of pages for each session. There’s a learning from this though – if the average number of pages per session is low, it means people like what they see on one page and one page only. So you don’t want this figure to be low – you want it to be a nice big number.
Bounce rate is the number of people who leave your website after visiting one page only. So if 100 people visit your website and 50 of them leave after browsing just one page only, your bounce rate is 50%. This means you want this to be a nice low number.
This is an estimate percentage of first time visits. If you’re in the process of building brand awareness, the higher the number the better. But at the same time, if ‘New Sessions’ remains high, it means that you’re getting lots of new traffic, but the traffic that was new once upon a time isn’t returning. So it can be a bit of a double-edged sword…
If you’re announcing a special offer on your website via Facebook, or you’re launching a campaign on your site via email, and you want to see how many people are clicking on the link once they’re discovering it, you can do this by logging on to the Real Time section of GA. It will tell you what page they’re on, how many people are browsing, where they came from (traffic source), where in the world they are and what pages they’re looking at.
Audience is just that – your audience. Here you can see an overview of where the people who visit your website are from, what operating system/device they’re mostly using, what browser they’re using and more.
Want to know where your traffic is coming from? Whether it’s Google, Bing or social networks? You’ll discover that here.
This part of GA tells you what the people who visit your website are doing. On a broad level, you can see here what are the most visited pages on your site. On a more granular level, you’ll see what people are doing on those pages ie how long they’re spending, how many of them are bouncing off the site and more.
If your site is an ecommerce site or if you have a particular objective with certain pages such as sign up for a newsletter, you can set up ‘Goals’ to see if the website is doing what you want it to do. Once you see the conversions coming through, you’ll know your website is working. If it isn’t you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.
Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.