Boost your website with Google Analytics: tips for advisers - part 1 of 2

26 March 2014

Looking for a free tool that can help you determine if your website is working? Get Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a free online tool that gives you a statistical overview of traffic to your website, and what they’re looking at when they get there. These insights will empower you with concrete data to fine-tune your website and broader business building activities.

How to set it up?

While you could DIY (see Google’s own manual), we recommend you simply ask your web administrator (the company or individual who created and maintains your site) to set it up. It’s a fairly straightforward process that involves creating a new Google Analytics account and adding a tracking code to your website.

Once you’ve been tracking data for at least a month, it’s time to explore. Although the longer you have Google Analytics running, the richer the data and you can look at specific timeframes and compare results.

There are many insights and reports available. When you’re in the system for the first time, don’t be put off by data overload. Simply explore the ‘standard reports’ section (see left hand menu) and you’ll find some useful data very quickly. To get you started, here are two particularly insightful reports.

Audience Overview

The ‘Audience Overview’ heading in the left hand menu gives you access to data about your website’s visitors, such as:

  • Visits: means the total number of times the site was visited;
  • Unique visitors: the total number of visitors, i.e. returning visitors only being counted once;
  • Pages/visit: the number of webpages visitors go to during a single visit, on average;
  • Average visit duration: the time spent on the website by a single user, on average;
  • New visitor/returning visitor: the split between those who visit the site for the very first time and those who returned to the site for subsequent visits; and
  • Bounce rate: the percentage of single-page visits, i.e. visitors leaving the site from the page they landed on, without any interaction with the page (meaning the visitor may have come to your site in error).

GA dashboard
Image source:

Good results will be different for every business but as a rule of thumb, you want to see a steadily growing number of visits and unique visitors. If returning visitors are important for your business, try to engage visitors online (perhaps with an interesting article or online calculator) so they come back to your site. In addition, pages per visit should ideally be around 3-4 pages, showing a strong level of engagement with your site visitors through interesting or relevant content.

Acquisition Overview

The ‘Acquisition Overview’ menu item will show how visitors found your website. This section offers a range of insights including:

  • Organic search: shows the visitors who reached your site using a search word in Google or another search engine. You can click through to see the list of search words used;
  • Direct: visitors who used your website’s exact web address to land directly onto your site;
  • Social: visitors who landed on your site via social media platforms (e.g. Twitter or LinkedIn); and
  • Referral: visitors coming to your site via other websites (e.g. online directories such as Yellow Pages or Hot Frog).

GA acquisition
Image source:

This data can help you change the call to action or language used on your website, making your site easier to find using related search keywords. It can also offer pointers as to the effectiveness of your marketing activities, as these reports show how visitors have come to your site (e.g. social media, or even your web address via a recent ad campaign), so you can put more effort into those activities driving the most traffic.

This is just a snippet of the data and insights offered by Google Analytics. In our next editorial, we will explore several other Google Analytics reports such as Visitors Flow, Engagement Rate and In-Page Analytics, helping you understand the behaviour of your site visitors and enhance your website to provide a better online experience.

You might also be interested in part 2 of this Google Analytics series.

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