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When you create a WordPress website or blog, what’s your primary goal? It’s a no brainer, really – you want to attract as many subscribers and visitors as you possibly can. But what do you want your viewers to do once they’re on your site? Why have you brought them there, and how did they get there? Which campaigns bring you the most visitors, which web pages do they spend the most time on, and which ones rack up the maximum conversions?
Unless you track these metrics and work toward bending them in your favor, you’re running blind – and your chances of making it big with your content are about as high as they are of you running into Danny Ocean and his band of merry thieves. You see, no marketing professional enters the digital marketing game unless they want to make it big. Which is why nearly every one of them uses Google Analytics.
Google Analytics helps you track, measure, and analyze each of the above metrics, and then some. All you need to do is install a Google Analytics plugin, and you start raking in your data immediately. It’s as simple as that. And the best part? Not only is it free, but even the installation, like all things WordPress – is as easy as pie.
Why do you need Google Analytics when you have WordPress stats?
Sure, WordPress’ own built-in tracking offers you visibility into your site traffic – but Google Analytics goes far beyond that. It offers you advanced features that actually complement your WordPress data. For instance, funnel reports help you track your visitors’ paths through your site.
So, what exactly does Google Analytics help you track? Google Analytics provides you with a variety of reports depending on what you want to analyze – here are what we think are the seven most important ones:
The goal of the audience tab is to help you understand everything about your visitors – from who they are, whether or not they’re active, and what their demographics are, to their interests, their site navigation patterns, and preferred language. You can even drill down their behavior to analyze if they’re new or returning visitors, which is a very important classification. While it’s great if you manage to get a new user to visit your site for the first time, what’s even better is to keep them coming back for more. Repeat visitors end up becoming your subscribers, followers, and customers in the long run. You can find out the percentage of your users who are returning by going to Audience -> Behavior -> New vs Returning in your Analytics account.
Who doesn’t want organic traffic from Google? This is one of the most basic reports you’ll turn to initially. True, Google unfortunately started encrypting search data back in 2012, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost. You can still gain plenty of insights into your organic traffic by analyzing the performance of unencrypted keywords. This data will help you identify how many of your keywords are actually contributing toward your goals, which of them are performing great, and which ones need further refinement and optimization.
If you generate a lot of content as part of your digital marketing efforts, you just have to track it to know whether you’re headed in the right direction. You need to track entrances, engagement rates, bounce rates, page views, and goal completions at a minimum to evaluate how well your content marketing efforts are paying off. Other important metrics include engagement rates, conversions, and shares by content topic and format.
The role of the acquisition tab is to help you comprehend where your visitors originate from. It helps you identify which of your marketing activities aren’t working, which ones, are, and how well those are doing. For instance, if you want to find out if your ads are getting clicked, your guest blog is any good, or if your SEO strategy is a dead end, you check your acquisition data. This data is particularly useful when you’re setting up your marketing campaigns, because you know exactly what works best for your acquired visitors. This is a standard report, and can be accessed by going to Acquisition -> Overview.
This will give you a quick summary of all your traffic sources:
This tab gives you a lowdown on what your visitors do once they’ve arrived at your site. It tracks them as they navigate your site, spend more time on certain pages, and interact with the various aspects of your site. A very important metric to track here is the bounce vs exit rate of your visitors. “Bounce rate” calculates the number of site visitors who leave from the same page they landed on, without taking any action whatsoever. “Exit rate” is the percentage of visitors who end up browsing more than one page before they leave your site. The Bounce rate vs exit rate comparison feature of Google Analytics offers you a visual report of these metrics for all the pages of your site, which is critical to identify which parts of your site offer a less-than-great user experience, and therefore garner low engagement. You can find this report by going to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages and then, in the Explorer tab that opens up, selecting “Bounce Rate” and “% Exit”.
The conversion tab tells you everything about your conversion rates. Using your goal as a benchmark, you can identify what is and isn’t working. For instance, which CTAs and landing pages work great on your site? What keeps your visitors engaged the most on your site? Google Analytics tells you all this and more.
It’s no secret that we live in a mobile-first world, with mobile device users outnumbering desktop users. In fact, mobile responsiveness is now so important that Google penalizes mobile-unfriendly websites. Therefore, knowing how your website performs on mobile screens is critical to staying afloat in search results – not to mention winning over customers. Google Analytics’ mobile performance report tells you how well-optimized your website is for mobile devices, and whether you need to make any improvements for better user experiences. You can even drill down your report to identify which mobile devices/ browsers are being used to access your site (which in turn tells you if your site performance dips on certain devices). To access this report, go to Audience -> Mobile -> Overview. Clicking Devices, on the other hand, will break down your site performance across platforms.
Google Analytics provides you with precious insights that prove critical to enhancing overall website performance, as well as the outcomes of your digital marketing efforts. You can not only learn about what is or isn’t working, but also get to know more about your visitors, so that you can keep improving the user experience and driving conversions. For a complete refresher on the role of Google Analytics in your overall digital marketing strategy, sign up for our Marketing Analytics Nanodegree program.
In our next blog, we will talk about how to install Google Analytics for WordPress. Stay tuned!