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by Eric Sharp on December 26, 2014

Topics: Measurement

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Having Google Analytics installed allows you to view thousands of detailed reports about your website’s audience, marketing, content and conversions. That’s a lot of data.

However, more data doesn’t necessarily mean more clarity.

To understand your website’s story you need to first understand the data. If you’re strapped for time every month, focus on 3 basic reports. In just 10 minutes, these reports will give you a quick snapshot of what’s happening under the hood.

Report #1: “Channels”

What the Report Shows

Found under “Acquisition” > “Channels”, this report shows your website’s traffic across all marketing channels such as organic search, paid search, referral and social.

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Google Analytics tracks 8 different channels

The Story it Tells

Channels give you a quick snapshot of your effort to drive traffic to your website. How effective is your SEO to driving search engine traffic? Is social media having an impact? Are backlinks (referral websites) making a difference?

Channels also reveal if you’re approaching your traffic acquisition in a myopic way. Are search engines responsible for 90% or more of traffic? Is social media only a sliver of your overall traffic?

Helpful Tip: Just like a strong investment portfolio, you should aim to diversify your traffic so it’s not too reliant on Google.

Report #2: “Landing Pages”

What the Report Shows

Found under “Behavior” > “Site Content”, Landing Pages show the various pages through which people enter your website.

Remember, your homepage isn’t really your homepage. People will access your website through a number of different pages — this report outlines those pages.

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The Landing Pages report shows each page’s “Bounce Rate”, “Pages/Sessions” & “Avg. Session Duration”

The Story it Tells

This data will show how widespread your website’s content is. The more landing pages, the more opportunity.

If your homepage is the lion’s share of your landing pages, it’s a possible sign that the rest of your content is:

  1. invisible to search engines
  2. not shared or linked to
  3. poorly advertised through paid channels

Helpful Tip: Pages with a low “Avg. Session Duration” and high “Bounce Rate” should sound the alarms. Inspect those page’s content and overall design (is a poor visual design killing your website?)

Report #3: “Goals”

What the Report Shows

Found under “Conversions” > “Goals”, this report shows if people are taking action on your website (e.g. purchase something, fill out a form, visit a certain page).

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After setting up Goals in Google Analytics, they will become your most powerful report

The Story it Tells

“Channels” show how your website is generating traffic, “Landing Pages” indicate where they’re entering, and “Goals” reveal whether it’s converting. Unless you’re selling ad space, conversion is the most critical metric for any website.

Completed goals are evidence that your website is resonating with your audience. When people take action — whether it’s providing an email address or buying a product — it’s a sign they feel engaged. Goals also allow you to precisely measure the ROI of your website.

Helpful Tip: Filter the data to show which marketing channel is responsible for generating completed goals (e.g. how many contact requests originated from Google?)

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A website’s story can be revealed through data

Your website has a story. Do you know it?

Even if you only have 10 minutes a month, make this measurement habitual. The more time you invest, the more you’ll learn about your website.

Author Info

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Hey there, thanks for reading! My name is Eric Sharp and I’m the Founder of ProtoFuse. Learn more about me, follow me on Twitter or find me on Google+. Oh, and I’ll call you family if you’re a Chicago Bears fan. Daaa Bearsss.