Google Analytics, your best strategic ally
In a previous article, we explained everything you need to know about content marketing. One of the keys to properly developing it is to know your audience and their habits inside out. Even though the name Google Analytics may sound scary, it can be a great asset for you, your business, and especially your communication strategies. Google Analytics is not just a measurement tool. The results you will get can be real benefits enabling a better understanding of your audience as well as the implementation of concrete and useful actions to continue developing strategically and efficiently your business. But first, what is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free statistical tool offered, as its name suggests, by the American giant Google. It allows website administrators to analyze their audience and its behavior. Nowadays, it is the most widely used performance calculation tool, with about ¾ of the international market.
The first reason is its simplicity of use and understanding, the second is due to the multiple statistical results that allow an overview of the traffic of a website. It is also worth mentioning that Google makes its tool available for free, only for websites with less than 10 million page views per month, which makes it an incomparable ally in the study of your audience. Now that we know what Google Analytics really is, let’s try to understand why it is worth using it to boost your strategies and improve your users’ experience.
Table of contents
1. Why using Google Analytics?
The answer is simple: understanding your audience is essential to your development. Some hosting companies already offer a possible analysis of your website’s visits and even some statistical information, but none of them offers such a detailed observation as Google Analytics. And even more so, as already mentioned above, with such ease of use.
The audience of a website is its core. Knowing the smallest details of your audience’s habits means anticipating their needs and allowing you to personalize your future communication strategies, in order to create content adapted to their expectations. Where do they come from? How long do they stay? Or which pages attract their attention the most? All these important questions can be answered with Google Analytics.
“Google Analytics allows you to set objectives to be achieved. Increasing the number of views, changing the theme of the website, proposing translations… all this can be studied from the information that the software provides.” (Source: 1min30.com)
As you may have understood, knowing and controlling your audience is the main function of Google Analytics. But let’s not forget that it also allows you to optimize the user experience. Basically, it means making your website more pleasant to visit, to encourage your readers to come back more easily and more regularly. In other words, it means making the navigation paths on your website fluid, despite the variety of connection media, to further increase your audience’s loyalty and ensure their regular return. The functionalities of your website, as well as the quality of your content, must be adapted to the expectations of your readers. Let’s see what results are most useful for your website and how to analyse them.
2. Understanding and analyzing the results
Visualizing statistics is good but understanding them and adapting your strategy according to them is better. There are many indicators, too many to list here. But some of them will be more useful than others, so let’s see what your main indicators will be, at least at the beginning, to start the Google Analytics adventure.
- The origin of your traffic
Traffic to a website can come from many different sources. People can come to your website from different channels, such as social networks or a simple Google search, depending on your SEO. It is very useful to know where your visitors come from, especially to evaluate if your advertising links for example or your internal links are relevant and useful. Even more so if it costs you money.
- The devices used
It is very interesting to know the type of device your audience prefers to use to consult your website because this will allow you to adapt your communication according to your readers’ preferred device, but also to perfect your responsive design (Adaptation of the format of your website according to the type of screen used.) For example, if your website is mostly visited from a mobile phone, it would be relevant to propose an adapted content and design, in order to make the experience of your website even more pleasant for your reader.
- Pages that generate the most traffic
Most of the time, these are the first pages seen by your readers (home page, forms, list of articles, etc.). Depending on the results of your best pages, you can adapt your website and prioritize certain elements to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. By ensuring that your users find your website easy to navigate and visually appealing, you can be sure that they will potentially remember your website in the future.
- The last pages visited by user
Knowing the pages from which your readers leave your website is a real mine of information. This does not necessarily lead to a lack of performance, but it does sometimes allow you to adapt specific content and modify it. It will be necessary to know if the information sought was found or if the content was not relevant enough to captivate the reader. Obviously, this will allow you to adapt your tools and internal links to keep your audience interested in your website.
- The loading time of your website
Often overlooked but extremely important, the loading time of a website can make all the difference to your traffic. Indeed, a too slow loading time, makes leave approximately 53 to 60% of the users of a website. In addition, when your display speed is high, you have a better chance of being ranked and referenced by Google. Ideally, your loading time should not exceed 4 or 5 seconds. Beyond that, the user experience is altered and there is a strong risk that the user will look elsewhere.
- The number of unique users, their profiles and habits
First of all, you need to understand what a unique visitor is: a single reader who visits your website once or several times during a given period. The number of visits or sessions will necessarily be higher than your number of unique visitors, since a single visitor can consult several pages for example. The unique visitor or VU, is a valuable indicator in the calculation of website traffic. For example: the higher your number of unique visitors, the higher the cost of your advertising space. So, it can be common for example that an advertising partner asks you for your number of unique visitors, in order to guarantee the existence of a correct traffic on your website. Therefore, monitoring your number of unique users on a regular basis will give you an idea of how your website’s potential is developing.
You will also know the number of page views, the time spent on these pages, the hours spent logging in or reading your website, more precise information about your readers, and even the all-important, but sometimes all-too-mysterious bounce rate.
- The bounce rates
The bounce rate is an indicator of the number of times a user has logged in and out of your website. A bounce occurs when a user of your website has no interaction with your website for more than 30 minutes. This indicator is very important, because the higher the bounce rate, the more Google considers your website to have little interaction and therefore to be of poor quality. A website that is considered to be of poor quality by Google will lose rankings and will therefore never be highlighted by the search engine.
3. Are there alternatives to Google Analytics?
Even if the tool proposed by the American giant is an asset, it does have its limits. The information provided by Google Analytics only represents a 10% sample for websites with little traffic. A detail to be taken into account when the study concerns, for example, the traffic of a page with few visits. The available data will then be too unreliable and will lack relevance.
For some professionals, the calculation of the bounce rate, discussed above, is also a problem. Google Analytics only starts its calculation once the page is almost fully loaded, but if the user leaves your page before it is sufficiently loaded, the visit becomes invisible and will not be taken into account by the tool in its calculation.
It will also be necessary to move away from the concept of segmentation by page. The traffic of a user on your website must be conceived as a journey. In short, Google Analytics offers a statistical view based on your website and not on the audience of your website. This can sometimes mislead you. Because even if the figures often tell the truth, sometimes the difference in the point of view of two results can give two different answers.
Is there a solution to these few problems? Yes. In three letters: RUM. RUM stands for Real User Monitoring. This technique allows you to focus the statistical study of your website on the user’s experience of it via his interactions. It is a kind of service that passively collects the performance data of your website, from the users’ browsers, in order to calculate the experience of your website from the point of view of your audience.
This means that you will be told which page you are viewing, which device you are using, from which browser and which version, and even the geographical location of your reader. However, the RUM data depends on your users’ access to your website. If your website is down, no data will be collected. It is also worth mentioning that many RUMs offer IP anonymization to ensure the protection of your users’ data.
As a conclusion, Google Analytics remains the main tool for measuring and understanding your audience and your website. Used by 75% of website owners, it is the reference for real statistics about your website. Despite some of the limitations outlined above, the many indicators offered by the tool will be an invaluable goldmine in the evaluation and transformation of your performance and marketing strategies. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to providing your audience with an enjoyable and personalized experience on your website. The many main indicators of the tool will allow you to become unaware of the statistics of your website and then to propose the best communication tools to your readers and users. More than an asset, Google Analytics will become your friend. Its simple graphs and regular results will be the most useful tools in your entrepreneurial toolbox.
Together with a RUM, you will be able to analyze two statistical points of view, and this will allow you to react in the best way according to the results obtained. Whichever option you choose, analyzing your website and its traffic with Google Analytics will already be a very important step in understanding your website and its issues. If you adapt your website to their expectations, your audience will be grateful. This is an excellent way to build loyalty among your readers and users. Did our article help you to see things more clearly? Do not hesitate to give us your impressions and to tell us about your experience with Google Analytics in comments.