If you know about or are aware of Google Analytics then you will probably already have a basic understanding of why it is important for your website and some of the features that go with it, but at the same time you might well be put off by the amount of things it reports and struggle to really understand what you really need to know.

Google Analytics is a beast of information, offering hundreds of pretty charts, numbers that will blow your mind and more data than you could shake a whole tree at, let alone a stick, which means many people are put off from really using it as they just do not understand what they need to get from it or how to take the most important relevant information from it.

For people in the industry, like SEO or AdWords people like me, or Webmasters, web designers and any other online professionals, having a full understanding of Google analytics is so important, as it is our eyes into the website and how people use it. But for the majority of business owners that simply do not have the time to get to grips with how it works, learn what they need to know and then more importantly know what to do with this data, the system can come across as an overload of data, which as I say, can turn people off.

So, here are 5 things that you really need to be using Google Analytics for.

Traffic Sources

Google Analytics is perfect for knowing where your visitors are coming from and how they get to your site, which from an online marketing point of view is crucial when it comes to knowing what is working for you, and probably more importantly, what is not. You can see how many people visited your site from the search engines (organic traffic), how your paid advertising is working, which sites are sending you traffic (referrals) and the kind of visitors your social media campaigns are sending as well. Knowing where your traffic is coming from allows you to know what your best traffic sources are and where you need to improve, and also any areas that are working OK but offer room for improvement with some work and effort.

Site Content

Google Analytics offers an amazing insight into how people use your website, and one of the quick wins that you can draw from the platform is finding the content on the site that is doing well and the content that either needs to be improved or drastically re-thought. Each page on your website, from the home page to an individual blog will be recorded, showing how long people spend on the page, where they come from, the bounce rate and so much more, which means you can try to find the content that has previously engaged your customers and continue to produce more of it. It also allows you to find content that really is just not hitting the mark, and as we say, you can then make an informed decision about what you are going to do about it.

Page Speed

Page speed is now a ranking factor so it is really important you keep an eye on this and make sure your website and all of its pages are loading quickly. Whilst a slower than average website is not going to push you out of the rankings, it could hinder them and also hinder your users, as research shows that people are just not willing to stick around and wait, they want things quick and will simply not tolerate a website that takes minutes to load. Although this section in Analytics is not 100% perfect, it does give you a really good overview into the site, so make sure you monitor this section and learn the lessons that it could teach you.

Bounce Rate

I take bounce rate with a pinch of salt to be honest, but if you see that your bounce rate is really high, and I mean 80% or over, I think that there is probably something wrong that you need to look at. Break the bounce rate down by traffic source, as the spam bots and spiders will often leave your bounce rate artificially high, meaning that if your organic or paid traffic is showing a high bounce rate, you should be using this data to work out why it is high and what you can do to improve it. Bounce rate is not always a bad thing, but if it is really high or getting higher, use Google Analytics to spot this and then do something about it.

Goals And Conversions

If you are not using Google Analytics for monitoring success via goals and conversions then you are missing out big time, as not only can you tell how many conversions and successes you have, but also where they came from, how they occurred and so much more, giving you the power of understanding when it comes to what works and how to push it further. You might need a bit of help to set the goals up and indeed conversion tracking code, but it really is so important that you know what is working and how it came to work, as you can then improve the successful avenues and ditch the areas of marketing that are probably not effective for you and your business.

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