It’s hard to know what to do next right? If you are running a small business, e-commerce store or even a large corporation, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what marketing activity is giving results, that is why we have this in depth google analytics tutorial for you.
Let’s take an example of breaking into new markets? Which one, where are my visitors coming from and will they like my new product?
Well, this article is a way of inferring the answer to these key questions using Google Analytics.
I am not here to teach you analytics; instead I am here to show you how I use analytics to give me direction in my business so you can use it in yours.
In this google analytics tutorial, we will explore each question in three steps:
- Question (e.g. what language should I translate my site into if any)
- Why (i.e why do we need to know this, adding this step helped me sort the useful questions from the chaff)
- How (where do I get the answer in Google Analytics)
- Action (e.g. we can see that 10% of visitors have their browser language set to French, so we should translate our site into french and add local content targeting people who really love wine, cheese and overly complex grammar)
Brace yourself! This is a long post so you can skip to the summary here if you want, but you will miss out on all the real actionable tips.
Question 1: How many people come to my website from “Thailand”?
Where you are based, plays a huge part in your traffic. Thailand is where we are physically located and the place our trainees are most likely to travel from. For us, Thailand is a very clear indicator of how well our website is performing.
People from other countries will see that we are located outside of their local area and this may cause them to leave. This may be the same for you.
If you have a physical location, then the traffic from that area will give you the best idea of how easy and relevant your website and content is.
For example, the number of pages per session from the US is about 1.5 but Thailand is much higher with over 3.5 pages per session. ( a healthy amount )
Audience > Geo > Location (below you will see a list of countries (but you can drill down to the city level also)
We have a number of things to look at here.
If you have been targeting a specific market, let’s take France for example, and you are not seeing an increase in traffic / goal completions then it is an indication it is not working and you need to change tactic. For example, changing the imagery, the demographics to whom you are targeting and what networks you are using.
Let’s take teens for an example. They are using Facebook less and less and gravitating towards messaging apps such as Line and WhatsApp. So a drop in traffic may be due to your audience moving.
Remember that the data is showing you what happens as they land on your page so your investigation needs to start before that, #mindblown
You may be using Facebook targeted ads and you see that the traffic comes in but bounces away. Again, this is an indication that the traffic is landing on content that is not of interest or difficult to use (e.g. your site is slow loading).
So with France, or any country, you can leverage the local news or topics that are gripping the country at the moment to help attract that specific area. So right now, as of writing this article, Open Air Urinals seem to be a thing.
Sacre bleu !
So let’s get down to the action points:
✓ Change content to be more in tune with the intent and issues of your localised potential customers
✓ Check the usability of your website ( you know a little tip from me is that sometimes people use headers that are waaaayyyy to big. For example on our Tech Academy website only 40% of people scroll past the top section, so it shows that you need to get the right information for that local market above the fold)
✓ List your website in more local directories, websites, blogs and niche online magazines.
✓ Make sure your Google Business listing is up-to-date and filled with all the various types of content you can add there now
✓ We will cover this later, but consider translating your site into that specific location’s popular language
Question 2: How many pages do people visit each time they…visit (session)?
How easy and intuitive is our website to use? Are we making it clear where the users should go next? These are really important questions we need answers to, and pages/per session is the key metric behind the answer.
Now to be very honest, I use two different methods:
Google Analytics : Home > Pages per Session and Reverse Goal Path (to find out how many pages they visited before an actual booking / purchase)
Then there is Mouseflow!
Mouseflow is awesome and they give you 200 recordings each month, these recordings are of the physical screen of everyone who visits and they give you data on how many pages they visited.
So you can really look into the ones that did not go to many pages and find out why.
UX, there you go, answer done.
For me, a big part of User Experience design; is getting a user to go from page/screen A to B and C, so we need to give them strong call to actions and reasons to move from page to page.
Think if of it like this…
A journey through a each page of a website should be like a story, they have beginnings (where you empathise with the users issues with strong indications that you have an answer they are looking for), then show them your offer and back it up with proof you are the best choice e.g.
Remember at each stage to have a clear call to action to get the user to move to the next stage e.g. contacting you, viewing your shop or simply moving to the next blog post.
That’s a good start but there are other actions we can take to help increase the amount of pages visited per session:
✓ On every page include more internal links to other relevant pages
✓ Add banners and strong call to actions to advertise your products/services within your other pages especially the blog posts
✓ Relevant other posts to read within your blog to keep them moving through your content
✓ Interactive content that requires users to move through a series of pages/steps e.g. quiz’s
✓ A little tip, that we use successfully, is sending people to thank you pages after they complete a form. Nice way of showing that you are dealing with the information they sent in and increases the pages/session by at least 1
Question 3: where are my viewers located?
Not what language, not even their nationality but where are they physically located. Super important for local businesses with an address. If you are looking for a dentist you will not get on a plane to get your tooth fixed! You want someone with great reviews whos’ as close as possible!
For online businesses it’s also vital to know the locale of your customers to know what type of content and products are relevant e.g. try selling fish sauce* to someone in England you will find out quickly they have no idea what it is and probably throw up a little in their mouths.
Take another example sector; tour operators, it is very important to know where their customers are coming from in order to know what type of packages to offer.
Audience > Overview > Demographic > Country
Let’s get right to it as we have mentioned a lot of the why’s before:
✓ If the numbers of visitors in your local area are dropping then start doing more local marketing.
✓ Local marketing can be done with Pay Per Click adverts on networks like Google Ads and Facebook as they allow you to target specific audiences, locations, likes etc
✓ As I mentioned earlier make sure you are well listed in local business directories and your Google Business account.
✓ If numbers are dropping in a country/city you are targeting then have a look back in the history (by altering the date and then going to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and then add a second metric of Country) and see what content they liked previously and either do more of it or start coming up with a strategy to make new localised content.
Question 4: which blog/page post do people view the most? the least?
What content works and what does not. It’s as simple as that.
To put a story behind this, we are a tech school and one of our biggest areas is digital marketing courses and so one would think that creating content around this topic would be a winner.
We were so very wrong.
Nobody cared about our posts but they certainly did like our tutorials. Liked them a lot!
So I re-focused our team to write more tutorials. If it was wasn’t for asking this question I would never have known to put our energy into the right place.
Behaviour (so don’t get this heading) > Site Content > All Pages
As I mentioned, it’s about knowing what is working and what is not, so follow these steps:
✓ If users are landing on your pages/posts and bouncing away then these should be flagged as ones needing changes.
✓ For pages with very low traffic, but you still feel they are valuable to your potential customers, then start to amplify them
✓ You can do this with sharing (again) on social media through your brand page, groups you are a member of or with paid advertising. Another option is through outreach and then, best for last, send out a newsletter.
✓ For pages getting the most traffic, look at them closely and find out where the traffic is coming from (click on the name of the page, then click secondary dimension and look for “channel” this will then give you the figures for each channel )
✓ Once you know which channel is bringing in the readers; you can do more of the same content and leverage the same channels.
Question 5: How long do viewers stay on the site?
Three things we need to think about:
- Are they leaving right away?
- Are they staying long enough to read the content?
- What content attract the best session times?
All three gives us cause to take action
Home > Behavior > Overview
Let’s look at each point separately as each deserve specific actions for you to take:
1. Bounce Rate is High
✓ From my experience I have found that it’s the pre-qualification of the traffic that causes a high bounce rate, i.e the wrong people are coming to your website for the wrong reason. So check the channels and see if the traffic is coming from the right place.
✓ For example, let’s say we have a website sending traffic to us that is not relevant, you can either ask them to change the link ( for example the anchor text can be more clear of where the user is being sent) or remove it.
✓ Another example is social traffic that might be coming from the wrong place, i.e a spammy post or a tweet that was out of context, find it and deal with it accordingly.
✓ Then there are the normal culprits like your pages are loading slowly (see Behaviour > Site Speed > Page Timing), hard to read, annoying pop-ups, spammy content and here are 14 more reasons.
2. Are they staying long enough to read
✓ Our top page is a post on Interactive Websites that has an average session time of 9 mins and according to this site it takes around 9 minutes to read it at a normal pace = win! So no action needed on that one.
✓ However, our post on UX design skills gets an average session time of 6 mins but the read time is closer to 10 mins. That means they are giving up about after just past half way. To solve this we need to add more headings, interactive content, reduce paragraph size and add some bucket brigades.
3. What content attract the best* session times?
*Learning what you are doing right is just as important as knowing what you did wrong; so the “Best session times” are times that are just over the read time of the specific content.
✓ As we saw, the Interactive Websites article had the perfect session time. This was due to the way we broke up the text, added lots of links for the user to actually see what we were talking about (this gives them the chance to explore and we always make sure to open the external links in new tabs)
✓ Re-create how your best content is broken up, use similar interactive content and keep working the same channels that brought the traffic.
✓ On the flip side, if you have content that is not doing so well, then change tactic or re-work the content to be similar to that which works. For example we need to go back to our UX article and break it up like we did with the Interactive Websites post.
Question 6: What visitors use to visit your site (browser and device)?
Okay. This is a broad question I know, but a useful one. We need to think about the browser as it actually gives us insight into who our users are. For example if they are using Edge or MS Explorer we know they are probably elderly or not familiar with computers.
I totally understand this is an overgeneralization, but do you know anyone who does not use Chrome, Safari or Firefox? Generally people who are not familiar with computers just use whatever is installed when they turn it on.
It’s very obvious why we need to know what device they are using; so we can test the website is working perfectly on any devices other than what we are using ourselves. For example we may not have tested our site on an Android phone because it works okay on our iPhone.
Or worse still…
We may not have tested our website on all browsers because we think everyone uses Chrome.
Browser: Audience > Technology > Browser & OS
Device: Audience > Mobile > Overview
The actions on these points are simple: test, test and test.
✓ For browsers, you can install most of them on any machine. But for an easy way, try https://www.browserstack.com or ask some friends.
✓ For the mobile devices, this is a little tricky but we normally ask our team to just whip out their Android or iPhone and test the site. For people using Windows phones we just call the police and let them deal with them hehe…
✓ When you find issues with your site it’s important to look at the root cause rather than patching custom code to fix that specific device or browser issues. For example if you have a lot of videos on your site they may work fine on desktops but sluggishly on mobile.
✓ Probably leave those last actions to your web designer if you are not familiar with code and optimisation.
Question 7: What Channels Are Our Visitors Coming From?
To know what is working and what is not. For the channels that are not we can decide if they need more attention.
This is particularly important for those of us doing Adwords as it clearly shows how that traffic does, once on your website.
An important tip here is to make sure you have goals setup so you can also see which are actually adding to your businesses profitability.
Acquisitions > All Traffic > Channels
(warning long section of super useful tips ahead)
Let’s take this channel by channel dear friend:
✓ Organic Traffic is tanking so we need to target either easier keywords to rank for, or that potentially attract a wider audience. For example, instead of going for “web design course” we might go for “bangkok web design course”, the latter being easier to rank for.
- Also for organic traffic we can simply do more blog posts and articles. I recommend articles as they tend to be based around answering a question e.g. “how to design a business card” and rank easier while attracting more traffic.
- Quick Tip: make sure your Google Search Console is setup properly and connected to your sitemap.xml that should update as soon as you post anything new.
✓ Direct Traffic is down, means people are using their bookmark of your site less or typing it directly in less also. So to improve this, give them a reason to come back with series type content e.g. Week 1 – how to improve your life with A and B, Week 2 – … C and D. Release these on a regular basis (such as weeks like in the example) and keep in touch with people on your social media to keep you in their minds
✓ Referral Traffic has reduced, this is not a good thing as it means you have lost links or that where you were listed (on another site) has lost its popularity.
- One thing is to find out which sites have had a reduction in traffic and go to see if your link is still there and if not, call your cousin with the black belt and get it back!
- If the link is on a recent article, that is not so recent anymore, you will have your answer and an action could be to try and get another link by offering up a guest post.
- Start guest posting on more sites or actually doing outreach for links (not as easy as it sounds so read these tips first).
✓ Social Trafficc is slipping! Now this is something quite easy to fix by doing more activities on social media with links back to your site. For example, we post our latest articles out three times (1 day, 1 month and then 3 months later).
- Remember to add your link to any posts you do (yes on IG as well) and try to make them nice and short (social people like that kinda thing) by using services like Hootsuite (ow.ly), Twitter (t.co), Bitly (bit.ly).
✓ Email traffic tapering off so we need to do more newsletters. I recommend doing a monthly one (overall news and what is coming up), then do emails for each of the big posts you do
- For example this post will be sent out over social media and then we will do a full email blast to all our awesome subscribers to let them know to check out this super useful post.
- Another tip is to do drip campaigns that attract users to click on links back to your main site.
Question 8: How many repeat visitors are we getting?
Google likes repeat visitors, you know why? Because it shows you have content worth ranking if people keep coming back to it.
Audience > Overview
If you are not getting enough repeat visitors I prescribe the following:
✓ Create series content that keeps people coming back each week/day to get the complete story. For example we broke up our post on How to make a Custom WordPress Template into 13 pieces! (mainly as it would have been too long to publish in one post, but it really helped our repeat visitor numbers)
✓ Keep it regular! Keep up the pace of your posts so people learn to expect them and come back for them like Moz’s whiteboard Friday series
✓ Get them on your newsletter list and following you on social media. As much as you can, kindly ask your users to follow or sign-up and keep them engaged with great content that is suited to their needs and lifestyle.
✓ Build a community around your business, you can do this with adding a forum, tools that visitors need to use or running groups on facebook. Every now and then mention to come back to the site for “more information” or a “complete guide” or “something new”
✓ Lastly establish yourself as a leader in your field and you will get people running back to your blog for a glimpse of your greatness. Joking aside, they will want to know more about what you are doing and the resources, links and content you are producing.
Question 9. Where do I get my business from?
Let me start with a story on this last point.
In the early stages of my business, which is teaching tech in English here in Bangkok, I had some budget to launch the new brand. I wanted to reach the expat community here in Thailand and there was no better site than Thai Visa.
So I paid my 24,000 baht for a banner ad in the technology section. A sure win!
Now at the time (and touch wood we still are) our little training center was very busy, so I thought it must have been thanks to that banner.
I was wrong.
This is why you must know where you are getting your business from so you know what is actually working and what is weighing your profits down.
The story continues.
So they sent me a second invoice for the next months advertising expecting me to pay!
“But you didn’t send me any traffic or sales” I said
“Yes we sent you over 360 clicks this month” they replied.
“No, you sent me two clicks. One was you (probably when you tested if the link worked) and the other was me”
“Ah okay, I will cancel the invoice” replied Thai Visa meekly
“Good idea, thanks” I replied
First you need to make sure you have your goals setup. To do this, go to the Cog Icon at the bottom of your Analytics Dashboard > Right Side click Goals > and then set up the goals that are best suited to you.
Once they are set up and running you can access Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path
Not all these actions are to do with sites that center around sales so if you are a charity, portfolio or blog then take note:
✓ As always check where the traffic is coming from and make sure that you’ve looked into all the points above to ensure you are still getting quality traffic on it’s way to your site. Just write each point down and check them off on a simple to do list.
✓ For e-commerce sites with a dropping conversion rate I recommend you firstly look at what changed when the downward trend began. Maybe you installed a new plugin or a new payment method, so track that back.
✓ If it’s not a functional thing then please take a look at pricing and shipping methods. Did something change there? Often you might forget that discounts have run out or a shipping API has expired and users no longer have the details they are wanting on checkout.
✓ For poorly performing sites with goals, take a look at the goal and it is actually clear on how users complete it. For example on our site you generally go to the Home > Course Listing > Enquiry > Thank you page (the thank you page is our goal URL).
We give our users plenty of opportunity to move through each stage with big calls to action obviously placed; make sure you have the same.
✓ For blogs which are not getting sign-up’s I recommend being clearer on your value proposition i.e give people a real reason to sign-up by offering exclusive content that you will email to them with new articles first or some sort of special offer.
✓ If newsletter sign-up’s are your thing (thang) ? (i’m not sure what about this carl) then look into the power of Micro Copy (that is the simple method of adding a little text to get people to move through your processes e.g. add something like “We hate spam too so we won’t be sharing your e-mail with any third, fourth or fifth parties”
✓ Maybe “time on page” is your goal and the action for that is simple; add more interactive content such as videos, polls, tools etc. Another way to keep people reading is to break up your content into short paragraphs (2-3 sentences per paragraph), lots of headings with relevant imagery.
✓ Need more downloads? Then make it super easy to do so, i.e. name + email and click download. Have a nice image to represent what they will get and be super clear of how it benefits them and not what it is e.g. let’s look at two versions
- A “Download this e-book that we worked super hard on with all our best writers. It has lots of important information with a beautiful design”
- B “Do you need answers quickly on how to improve your e-commerce store? Our expert e-commerce veterans crafted this e-book to share their secrets to help you succeed ” you and I need to discuss ebook , ecommerce going forward.
Wow, it’s been a long and amazing journey. Now you have all nine of the Google Analytics Inifnish Stones (need your help here) you can snap your fingers and hopefully half of your problems will disappear in an instant.
So what did we cover in this google analytics tutorial?
(oh and I added some new tips in the mix too, so keep reading!)
- Question 1: How many people come to my website from “Thailand”?
- If your local marketing is working, if not then start adding yourself to the relevant local directories and using PPC (pay per click advertising) to target specific locations
- Question 2: How many pages do people visit each time they…visit (session)?
- Add lots of clear next steps with calls to action, internal links and even inpage banners for your product or service.
- Question 3: where are my viewers located?
- Back to the local market and making sure your Google Business account is setup properly. Add content relevant to that geolocation by listening to the local events and news issues that you can leverage.
- Question 4: which blog/page post do people view the most?
- If you are doing it right = do it more!
- If what you are posting is getting no traction, then try different keywords / content / and aim for different people, e.g. if you are trying to sell a service then go back to your old customers and ask them why they chose you and use that as a guide to attracting more of the same kind of customer.
- Question 5: how long do viewers stay on the site?
- Litmus test to see if the right people are reading the content they want and need. So if people are not staying, then they maybe they are the wrong people or our content is not meeting their expectations. Look at how you are sending them (what imagery, video or copy are you using) and make sure it lines up to where they are landing.
- Question 6: What do visitors use to visit your site (browser and device)?
- Test yours website in any browser and device that over 5% of your visitors are using. Depending on your traffic, that can actually be lot of potential customers, e.g. we get around 15,000 to 20,000 people per month to our site. So that is (gets calculator out) a lot of people. Use tools like Browser stack or just ask a friend to test on his/her phone / computer.
- Question 7: Which Channels Are Our Visitors Coming From?
- For us Social Media is fading a little so I will start to push more content and resources to Facebook, Twitter and I’m considering using LinkedIN as a main network for outreach. I saw that our posts rarely link back to our site so I will change that and you should too.
- Question 8: How many repeat visitors are we getting?
- Add content that is in parts, entice people to sign-up for your newsletter and create a community through social media.
- Question 9: Where do I get my business from?
- If e-commerce sales are down then check your competitors sites (for price changes and new offers) as well as your own from a functional point of view.
- For blogs, to get more sign-up’s create a great piece of content and entice people to swap it for their email.
- For charities needing donations be more transparent of what you will spend the money on and ask for specific items rather than broad donations e.g. “we need beds, books or baristas”.
- For service oriented companies offer a free consultation, guide to doing it yourself (they quickly realise it’s a lot of work and get you to do it).
- Question 1: How many people come to my website from “Thailand”?
Phew! Okay that’ all folks.
Well done and please let us know how and if you use the advice in this marathon of an article.
We love to share so if you are interested in learning more then please check out our Digital Marketing Professional course where we teach you how to offer this service to others and make money from anywhere in the world as an international freelancer.