5 Basic Google Analytics Reports That Matter

Stress-ZebraStripesIf you’re a business owner or marketer with a website, you’ve probably heard that you should be looking at your Google Analytics Reports. But, if you’re like most business owners, you’re busy, you’ve got a million things to do, and even if you did look at them, you really have no idea what matters. Believe me, I hear you. Even as someone who lives and breathes this stuff, it can be overwhelming to look at the wealth of data that’s available in GA. So, let me make it easy for you. If you’re going to look at nothing else, here are the 5 basic Google Analytics Reports that matter:

1) Organic Search Traffic – You can find this report under Traffic Source –> Sources –> Search –> Organic

If you’re engaging in any kind of search engine optimization strategy, this report will show you what percentage of all your traffic is coming from organic searches, and which keywords are bringing you the most traffic. You can also use the advanced filters to remove all branded traffic. For example, if we wanted to exclude all of TKG’s branded traffic, you would use an advanced filter to exclude this traffic. It looks like this:
Google Analytics Reports: advanced filter
Simply fill in your own branded phrases to get results that show how your non-branded search campaign is doing.(By the way, if you find there’s nothing much left after you run this filter, you definitely need some keyword research and an SEO strategy. Use this data to help you get right on that!)
2) Mobile Traffic – You can find this report under Audience –> Mobile –> Overview
Believe it or not, a lot of sites don’t offer a really great mobile experience… yet. If you need to convince your boss (or yourself) that it’s worth the investment in mobile or responsive design, there’s nothing like an upward trending mobile report to convince you that it’s time.
Google Analytics Reports: Mobile traffic report
While the graph is clear as a bell (hello, upward mobile trend!), this report can be a little confusing. Remember that it’s posing a question: “Mobile? Yes? No?” You want to look at the “Yes” number and consider what percentage that reflects out of ALL your traffic, not out of the “No” traffic. Track this data for a few months and look for a pattern. If things are holding steady at say, 10%, you might be able to get away with doing nothing (as long as you’re willing to accept that 10% of your visitors aren’t getting a great experience), but if you see things creeping up month over month, it’s definitely a compelling reason to get a better mobile experience and responsive design on your radar. Given that a kajillion percent of people have smart phones these days (yes, that’s a real stat!), I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason why you shouldn’t care about mobile… but, hey, let the data drive your decision.
3) Goals – Set these up in the “Admin” section of your analytics, and then find the reports under Conversions –> Goals –> Overview
Really you can set any kind of goal you want for your site (how many people visit the blue widget page and then the red widget page, how many people spend more than 3 minutes on the site, etc.), but at TKG we’re all about ROI. For most of our clients that either means leads or sales. The Goals function of analytics allows you to set a goal (for example, reaching the thank-you page of filling out a quote request form) and then measures how many visitors actually complete this goal.
Google Analytics Reports: Goals
Your goal can be based simply on completing the stated action or it can be based on completing a series of steps that results in the final action. Whatever way you define it, measuring how many people are doing the things you designed your site to do is valuable information when it comes to making decisions on how to improve your site. When goal completions go down, chances are good, it’s time to tweak and adjust.
4) E-Commerce – If you’re selling on your site, you need this report. Find it under Conversions –>Ecommerce –>Overview
Put simply, you tell Google Analytics to track your sales… and voila!
Google Analytics Reports: Ecommerce
Nothing like some good old sales #s to show you where you’re winning or if you’re losing. In addition to tallies of how many transactions and revenue, you can also pull data on each individual product or where your sales came from:
Google Analytics Reports: Ecommerce Transactions with a source
This kind of report can be really useful for determining where your efforts are best spent (or if your best efforts are enough). If, for example, you’re spending big on PPC but getting no sales… adjust your strategy or hire someone who can help you.
5) Campaigns – If you’re doing banner advertising or email marketing, quickly tag your URLs for Google tracking – and then track it! AdWords campaigns also show here. Find this report here: Traffic Sources –> Sources –>Campaigns
Google Analytics Reports: Campaign Tracking
Don’t forget to click on the “Ecommerce” link within the reporting screen to see not only how many visits you got from a particular campaign, but also how many sales. Remember that these reports are all customizable based on a variety of criteria including date range, but if you’re seeing next-to-nothing from a particular campaign (and you’re sure it’s tracking right), it might be time to tweak your strategy, or reconsider whether your investment (time or money) in an effort is justified.
Of course there are literally hundreds of other Google Analytics reports available to help you understand how visitors are using your site, but if you’re only going to look at a handful of them, these are my favorites. What’s your favorite Google Analytics report? What’s your biggest Google Analytics challenge?


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We may tease Leanne about being the only Canadian at TKG, but in truth she’s an online marketing pro with a breadth of experience including SEO, content marketing, analytics and more. She’ll be talking about these topics as well as high level marketing strategy.

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