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Google Analytics – So what does it all mean?

On a regular basis I log into Google Analytics to see the latest results on my quantitative data.   In this post I will speak about some key measurements I look for in Google Analytics which can help you improve your website and business conversions.

UX web designer in Auckland, New Zealand

I have no idea what it’s like to view Google Analytics for the first time, however judging from the emails I get I can only imagine that it’s a bit daunting.  Data, data and more data. So let’s break it down.

Here are the 4 key sections:
1. Audience (what)
2. Acquisition (where)
3. Behaviour (why)
4. Conversions (results)

1. Audience.
Ok the obvious key measurement business owners will be looking at is how many people are looking at my website?  This is easily accessible under ‘Audience -> Overview’ Without going into too much details you are look at 3 things here.

Has there been a significant increase/decrease in traffic?
Has the bounce rate increased/decreased?
What is the average session duration?

Looking at the traffic, if there has been a change we need to look at incoming sources and find out why this has happened.  We’ll cover this later.  Secondly the bounce rate is defined as the rate of single page sessions where a user has viewed your site then left without another interaction; so ideally this should be low.  How low depends on many things, your industry, the type of website you have (is it a single page website), and whether the code has been installed correctly.  To get a good idea of where your website should be at, you can benchmark your results to your industry.  If it’s high you will need to look at the design/build of your homepage and make improvements.  This is where user experience can offer some insight.

Session duration is important because it tells you whether your viewers are engaged.  If you’re moving around quickly then leaving you know they’re not finding what they’re looking for easily. When users are slow; they read, they click around and take it all in before moving on or proceeding with a signup or adding to cart.


2. Acquisition
This is actually my favourite section.  Where does it come from?  Here you will be able to see which sections of your marketing is working and make decisions on where to invest for a better ROI.  Here I will typically look at the bounce rate compared to traffic coming in.  In the graph below you can see that although organic search is the 3rd best performing traffic source; it has the lowest bounce rate which means that those who come to your site through Google Search are more engaged users and are happy with the results of their search.  So make sure you focus on the sources of traffic that perform the best.

Auckland Web Designer

Traffic Source – Google Analytics Auckland Web Designer

3. Behaviour
This is the best section for refinement.  Ok so you know how many are coming and where from, you know where they are sourced from, now what are they doing?  Behaviour is about how they move around your website.  The overview section covers pages on your website which are popular but the key metrics here are the ‘Behaviour flow’ and ‘in-page analytics’.

Behaviour flow allows you to see step by step how users are moving around your website.  The image below shows where the majority of users are going.  Knowing this information can help you make better design and business decisions to improve the experience and your bottom line.  If your navigation has ‘products’ at the bottom and that is where the majority of traffic is going then move it up!  Highlight it if need be then come back in a month or so to see whether it conversions have improved.


The in-page analytics is my secret weapon.  This is where you can view the percentages of click per page and find out exactly where are they going viewed all on your website!  This information is easier to digest this way and if you’re really keen to keep up to date with this info, add the Chrome tool which you can download to get easy access to this information.  You can download it here.

This section also covers a very important measurement for SEO: Site speed.  Your visitors come to your website in a variety of devices and browsers.  You need to ensure that speed is not an issue and if it is, fix it and fix it fast because the more barriers you place on your website the harder it is to generate conversions.

4. Conversions
Speaking of which.. This section is the fundamentals as to why we are analysing all of this data.  It provides measurement not only for the sales or contacts we make but also the smaller conversions like a newsletter sign up or a video preview.

Google Analytics is super smart when it comes to conversions, so for ecommerce stores they automatically take in to account data from pages like the checkout, cart and transaction success page.

Conversions are something I generally look to see how well I’m meeting my goals.  Goals can be anything from session duration, an email opt-in or an event where they played a video.

 If you want to give your website some accountability towards your business goals ensure you or your website designer /developer (me) can install these metrics that are important to you.

And that’s a wrap.
Google Analytics can be seen as a can of worms; however it is an important tool for you to become familiar with as a business owners, not just something that your webmaster deals with.  It allows you to get insight into what your customers are wanting and where best to invest your marketing dollars.

Stay informed,

Freelance Web Designer - Tania Richardson.

Author avatar
15 years as a digital designer. Author and Director of Richardson Creative, that helps start-ups and large organisations use design and data to design the best online experience for their business.

1 comment

  1. […] first thing I use to find out what is wrong, or what could be better for a website is Google Analytics.   It’s also the best indicator for what is currently working with your marketing, SEO and […]

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