Using Google Analytics to Measure Performance
Google Analytics is an important tool for all photographers because it provides you with important data to help you make decisions. Here are some important questions that you can get answered with this critical tool:
What types of content do well? Knowing this information will help you determine what types of content to continue creating. Maybe your tutorials get a lot of traffic. Maybe your resources do well. Maybe you spent an entire day creating a particular page and placed it near the top of your page, only to have that page underperform. Either way, with this tool, you can make informed decisions.
Where are my users coming from? Understanding the sites that are driving traffic to yours will help you understand where you need to focus your attention. If 30% of your traffic is coming from Yelp, maybe it’s worth investing time in uploading more images, verifying the accuracy of the hours and address, etc. Maybe you’ve spent $1000/month on an advertising campaign with a big online magazine, but it’s only driving 20-30 hits to your site. It might be time to reevaluate the effectiveness of that campaign.
Does Your Traffic Lead to Conversions? Maybe you have thousands of hits a month but only a few inquiries. Google Analytics will help you determine what percentage of your traffic results in one of your goals.
These are just a few of the questions that Google Analytics will help you answer, but you’ll start to discover more as you become more familiar.
Setup is really easy and well-documented so simply go to https://www.google.com/analytics/ to get started.
For Squarespace users, follow these detailed instructions. For WordPress users, use the Google Analytics Plugin mentioned in the WordPress Plugins section of this book. Pause for a second here and make sure you have Google Analytics properly installed on your website.
In the rest of this section, we’ll cover the most important basics of this powerful tool. If you’re interested in knowing more about the functionality beyond what is mentioned here, we encourage you to get in there and explore.
The Basic Components of Google Analytics
A) Sessions – A session is a group of interactions that take place on your site. So if a user comes to your website, browses the blog, clicks over to the portfolio, and over to the contact page, that counts as one session. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity or if a user leaves and enters again under a different campaign. Campaigns are an advanced Google Analytics topic that we will not cover in this book.
B) Users – A user is simply a visitor to your site. A single user may have multiple sessions.
C) Page Views – A page view occurs every time a web page is loaded, even if the same page is reloaded
D) Pages/Session – This is simply Page Views divided by Sessions. The higher this number, the better, as it shows that your users are engaged with your site and continuing to explore your site after they initially enter.
E) Avg Session duration – This is the average length of a session. The higher the number the better, as you want your users engaging with your site and staying on your site.
F) Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of a single-page visit. If a user enters your site on a specific page and then exits or closes the window without visiting any other page, then it is considered a single-page visit. The higher the percentage, the worse.
G) % New Sessions – This is an estimate of the number of first time visits. A high number here is not necessarily good or bad.
How to Analyze Performance of Pages
Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
In this section, you can find out how many page views your website is receiving, which pages are receiving the most traffic, how much time they are spending on your site and the bounce rate for specific pages. See the actual sample screenshot for linandjirsablog.com
Acquisition -> Site Content -> All Traffic
In this section, you can find out all of your traffic sources. This will help you gauge which sources are worth investing more time in a well as which sources are doing particularly well.
The Real Time Visitors report shows you the number of people on your site in real time. This allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. For example, maybe you just tweeted your new blog post and you’re interested in seeing, in real time, how much traffic it’s bringing to your site. Maybe you were just featured in a popular blog and the users are flowing in. Or maybe it’s showing 0, when it normally shows 5-10. Maybe there’s something wrong with the site that you need to get checked out. There are plenty of useful ways to use this report.
In-Page Analytics in Google Analytics
In-Page Analytics gives you valuable, visual insight into the activity on any page of your site. Analyzing these percentages will help you identify where your users are going after visiting that particular page. This will allow you to place your best images and your most effective “calls to action” in the right places.
For example, as you can see from our example above, many of our readers are clicking on the “categories” menu item from our blog home page. That tells me that I need to make sure I have well-organized, attractive and presentable category pages.
More Google Analytics Features
We could write an entire book on Google Analytics, but hopefully we have whet your appetite for more information because there is so much more in there. Have fun exploring!