Google Analytics is an invaluable tool on any website, but navigating the depths of its interface and terminology can be a harrowing task. As a business owner with a lot on your plate, the last thing you need is to learn a new system. That’s why I’m here –– my hope is that you’ll come away from this article with the three top Google Analytics reports to answer the common questions you face when you venture into Google Analytics.
1. Acquisition Channels Overview
More often than not, the Channels Overview will be the most appropriate starting point for understanding how your business generates value from digital marketing efforts.
You’ll be greeted with a pie chart like the one above, which is a quick way to see which digital marketing channels are bringing in the most visitors to your website.
Below that, you’ll find a table providing insights on each channel’s relative performance in three metric categories:
- Acquisition // Sessions – which channels sent the most traffic to my website?
- Behavior // Bounce Rate – which channels generate less interaction with my website? A “bounce” is when someone leaves the page they landed on without interacting with your content.
- Conversions // Goal Conversion Rate – how efficient is each channel at converting traffic? A “conversion” is some valuable action performed by a user on your website.
Fun Fact: These Default Channel Groupings are not based on an industry standard; these definitions are configured by Google. Thankfully they are open about how they build them here and even allow you to add your own definitions within each View you create.
How to Find It
2. Organic Search Landing Pages Report
NOTE: This report requires that you sign up for a Google Search Console account. It’s the primary way Google’s system will communicate with you when it encounters issues indexing your website, and they even give you query reports so you can see how often and effectively your website was shown in results for those queries. You then need to integrate Google Analytics and Search Console to bring those reports into one interface (instructions HERE). Like the most basic version of Google Analytics, it’s also free!
In case you haven’t heard, Google doesn’t particularly enjoy people knowing the intricacies of their search algorithms. In an effort to thwart the constant threat of creators abusing search results, Google restricts the information they give website owners about how well their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are working.
Despite this setback, you should still be making an effort to measure the effectiveness of your ongoing content SEO efforts. One of the best reports for understanding how your content performs is the Search Console Landing Pages report.
This report doesn’t require too much explanation. It demonstrates how well each page of your website performed in its role as a landing page coming from a Google organic search result. It differs from the Organic Search Landing Pages report, which does not require a connected Search Console account, in that it shows you the following metrics:
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
- Average Position
Landing pages with the most sessions are your biggest driver of organic search traffic from Google. Landing pages with the lowest bounce rate are most likely to drive organic search users to continue exploring your site. Landing pages with the highest conversion rate are most likely to lead an organic search user to convert during that session.
Yes, you’re limited to the past 90 days of performance data. Yes, you can’t see the past two days of performance data. Just more setbacks, right? Consider that SEO, like your market, is constantly evolving. This 90-day window won’t be enough to report on annual performance of any page, but it should be more than enough to identify emerging trends and use that information to update your content strategy.
How to Find It
3. Assisted Conversions Report
Perhaps the most overlooked report in all of Google Analytics, the Assisted Conversions Report is one of the most valuable sources of information.
Unlike nearly every other report, the Assisted Conversions Report allows you to measure the performance of each marketing channel in relation to their contribution to the entire conversion funnel. Most reports highlight the channels that send more sessions resulting in a direct conversion, leaving channels more suited to early conversion funnel activity (marketing efforts that reach new customers and inform them of your business but don’t necessarily drive immediate conversions) looking like unnecessary efforts.
Some channels are better suited to early funnel activity, while others are more suited to driving the final conversion. It’s easy to ignore the value of early funnel marketing efforts, but you’ll soon see the repercussions to your bottom line if you stop reaching out to the more competitive edge of your market in an attempt to capture new customers. Simply put: you should always be courting new guests, buyers, or fans.
Assisted conversions are, in many contexts, at least as valuable as the last click conversion. What if that Facebook post never piqued that user’s interest, leading them to visit your Facebook page, clicking a link to your website, and then later come back to your website through an organic search and convert? In traditional reports, this valuable interaction from the social media channel would be disregarded but the Assisted Conversions Report lets you view the entire interaction, from first touchpoint to final.
How to Find It
You don’t need to be a Google Analytics expert to extract valuable insights from its reports, you just need to know which reports will answer your questions.