Google Analytics is a complex vortex of data.
The sheer volume of information contained within Google Analytics often discourages beginners from attempting to master it, despite its widely understood usefulness. Most novices, however, are unaware that even the most savvy users of the tool tend to view Analytics through a very narrow lens that filters out unnecessary statistical noise. There is simply too much to know, too much to monitor, and too much to adequately utilize on a daily basis.
In other words, it is important for beginners to take a deep breath. Even seasoned webmasters can be perplexed by the data they monitor daily.
So – what should Google Analytics beginners focus on? There are two primary starting points that yield important data: acquisition and behavior.
An ideal launch point is understanding how people arrive on your website, and whether or not those people are quality visits. This can be achieved via the acquisition tab through the following click path:
Acquisition → All Traffic → Source/Medium.
The resulting page provides you with a list of all website traffic within the established time frame, as well as post-click engagement data from each of those sources.
Of importance here is understanding the value of each source. By comparing the conversion rates, total conversions, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate, etc., you can formulate some initial understanding regarding where your best and worst traffic originates from, and subsequently how you can amplify or minimize those sources.
Also, if your business operates any paid advertising efforts, this is the fastest portal by which to measure its success. You can easily determine whether or not a paid campaign is yielding transactions, or if its conversion rates are drastically higher or lower than other sources.
The other dashboard to familiar yourself with falls under the “behavior” umbrella. We already know how people are arriving on the website, but what about their behaviors after they arrive?
Behavior → Site Content → All Pages.
The ensuing dashboard displays and ranks every page on your website by total visits, and you will therefore immediately see which pages are most “popular”. You will also see important metrics like entrances (how often a page was the portal of entry into your website) as well as exit percentage (how often people abandoned your website altogether while on that particular page). All of the traditional metrics like time on page are available, too, and understanding these metrics can help you understand which pages may require a reboot, especially if they perform poorly in comparison to their peers.
There are enough nuances within both of the aforementioned dashboards to continue elaborating for many paragraphs – but I will conclude more succinctly. The most important thing for Analytics beginners to remember is that tinkering is the best method to learn.
Hopefully these tips can guide you toward enlightenment as you jump headfirst into the vortex.