So, you have Google Analytics …

But what does the data mean exactly?

In Part 1 of this series, “Understanding Google Analytics“, we discussed the definitions of Google Analytics and the main seven sections on the Reporting page. In part 2 of of this series, Interpreting Google Analytics, we are going to discuss the data itself and how to interpret it.

The obvious goal of any website is to have someone come to your site, poke around a bit, read all the material you write, complete a contact form, purchase a product, or sign up for a newsletter. It’s an open invitation to learn about your company and spend as much time on your site as possible. So, think of that in terms of the data.

Hopefully by this point you have Google Analytics on your site and your are starting to see the data roll in. Let’s take that data and extrapolate it in a spreadsheet so that you can see your site’s trends over the past year or two. I used the data from one of my client’s websites to show you how to do this. Now, it’s just a matter of reading the data from one year to the next.

Let’s take a look at the data below. One thing I like to do is compare month to month. For example, compare July 2016 with July 2015. In July 2015, there were 1013 sessions but only 593 sessions in July 2016. That’s about a little less than 50% difference. It makes me wonder what my clients were doing in 2015 that they weren’t in 2016. Or, look at January 2016 vs. January 2015. Again, what were my clients doing in January 2016 that garnered more interest and clicks on their site than the previous January?

Some businesses have cyclical cycles – like real estate or even spa services. Summer months are incredibly busy for real estate agents, but slow for spas (when moms are focusing on taking care of children who are normally in school or families are on vacation). Once you have data for a few years you may be able to see your own company’s business cycles and determine if your site’s data is based on this or on particular marketing campaigns you have going (i.e. ads on local TV, postcards to the same companies or a new set of businesses, etc.). Did you start an Adwords campaign or stop running one?

In addition to running the numbers for Google Analytics, look at your previous marketing campaigns to see if any of your campaigns are creating this additional website exposure. If you don’t have a marketing calendar, check out this blog post on creating a marketing plan. It’ll give you a 5-step process to create one. Look at your marketing calendar and compare it to your Google Analytics stats. If you’ve just started Google Analytics on your site then you won’t a lot of data, but keep track of it anyway and see how your site’s stats change from one month to the next.

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One other thing I want to point out is that the amount of time (average session) increases by over a MINUTE from 2015 to 2016. That’s a great improvement. And, the client’s bounce rate is a down 10% as well (from 2015 to 2016).  Those are really good numbers. What this means is that while they may have less sessions and users in 2016, people are staying on their site longer and not leaving just as soon as they arrive (bounce rate).

The key for this client is to now increase their sessions and users from month to month so that those numbers continuously rise, not fall.

So, what do you do now that you have the data and understand it? How do you increase site exposure and fix those pages that are not receiving enough traction? Stay tune for part 3 of this series….

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