Website Design & Marketing

On The Hill: Radar Hill Blog


What is Google Analytics and Why It’s Important for Your Online Presence

There are a number of advantages unique to digital marketing when compared to traditional methods of marketing and today we’re going to focus on one of them: the sheer volume of data and metrics available to you. 

One of the best methods for tracking these metrics when it comes to your website is through Google Analytics. While there is a paid version (priced at approximately $150,000 a year!) for most businesses the free version will do more than enough to meet your needs. And that free version is what we’re going to explain in this post, plus talk about the new GA4 that is coming out. 

How Does Google Analytics Work 

We’re not going to get too caught up in the minutiae of the technical workings of Google Analytics — after all, this isn’t what business owners need to know. What you’re really looking for is to understand how it works, what it shows you, and what it will do for you. 

Basically, Google Analytics works through a tag that is placed on your website (in the backend coding), and this tag will then automatically run in the browser of every visitor to your website, collecting and sending data back to Google. 

This data is what is seen in a Google Analytics report, which shows a wide variety of metrics including the number of users, bounce rates, average sessions durations, sessions by channel, page views, goal completions, and more.

What this means in practice is that you’re able to determine where your best sources of user traffic are, tangibly measure the success of any marketing you’re running, understand how many visitors to your websites are completing important goals such as purchases, and isolate pertinent trends in terms of user engagement and demographics. 

To put it plainly: Google Analytics helps you figure out whether your website is helping you attract visitors, if it’s helping you generate sales, and whether you need to make a change or keep going as you are. 

The Important Metrics 

When we say Google Analytics offers a plethora of metrics, we aren’t exaggerating — there are up to 200 different metrics that you can track in order to measure the performance of your website. 

For a number of these metrics, their utility will probably depend on the specifics of your business. 

These are some of the most popular and valuable metrics that should benefit everyone:

  • Users
    Every unique visitor to your website is counted as a user  

  • Bounce rate
    Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who only visited a single page before leaving 

  • Sessions
    A session is a measure of the visitor interactions that take place for each user within a 30 minute window of activity 

  • Average session duration
    This measures the average total of how long each visitor remains on your site.

  • Pages per session
    Measures the average number of unique pages that each visitor views during a single session

  • Goal completions
    A goal is defined as a specific, desired action, such as a purchase. Therefore, goal completion measures the number of visitors who complete one of these actions. You may also see this referred to as a conversion.

Why Analytics Matters For Your Business 

As useful as this background information is, it doesn’t get to the heart of what really matters, which is how this data will improve your business. To put it succinctly, your website is the most valuable resource your business has, and making the most of it should be your number one priority. 

Without utilizing Google Analytics, you’ll be left guessing when it comes to understanding what your website is good at, where it’s lacking, and what you can do to make it an even greater success going forward. 

The data provided by Google Analytics gives you a window into the experience of every visitor to your website, effectively showing you their journey. And when taken at the larger level, you get the whole picture of exactly how your customers are using your website. 

You will be able to know whether people are leaving your website before seeing what you want them to see, which pages are having a positive effect, where most of your visitors are coming from, and whether your website is driving customers towards your goals. 

A good understanding of your website data means you can target improvements to your online presence in a meaningful way by potentially: 

  • Improving content

  • Optimizing for mobile

  • Directing users to specific pages through marketing channels

  • And a lot more. 

Without Google Analytics, any changes done to your website will be a stab in the dark, risking both valuable time and costs. However with the right data you can efficiently and effectively make the most of your online presence. And with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the specific ways you can use Google Analytics to improve your business’ online presence. 

Social Media Targeting 

Social media platforms are a tremendous tool for businesses when it comes to traffic and engagement, but they can also be hard to understand in terms of value and choice. Because Google Analytics tells you which platform your users arrived from, you can understand which social media platforms are working for you. 

For example, if one platform is dominating your metrics, you can focus your content and marketing efforts there. Alternatively, if you’re spending a lot of resources on a platform with minimal return, it may be beneficial to reinvest those into a different platform.

Improve Your Content Marketing 

Good content is one of the best ways to engage with your customers, whether it’s blogs, infographics, or even more creative avenues; content is how you stand out amongst your competitors. 

One drawback however is that its value is often opaque and difficult to understand, leaving you unsure if your content marketing is working, and if it’s not, how you should improve it. Google Analytics allows you to track how many views and shares your content posts receive. 

Track Your Key Goals 

Every business should have key goals they want each user to pass through when they visit. These will often be purchases, but they could also be as simple as filling out a quote form to initiate a sales journey or signing up for a newsletter. 

No matter what the goal is, Google Analytics will allow you to track it, so you can track the success of your website goals. 

Utilizing Custom Reports

Custom report

While all this data is undoubtedly useful, the sheer volume does mean that it can be very confusing to navigate and understand for business owners. 

Custom reports are a wonderful solution to this problem. With a custom report you can select the relevant information and see it in a specially created easy to parse visual package.

That’s why we offer monthly custom reports as a service to all of our clients, so they can easily see how their website is performing. 

Forthcoming Changes - GA4

Having said all of this, Google Analytics is going away. Google is planning on retiring classic analytics in July 2023 in favour of a rebranded and updated analytics known as GA4. 

This service will offer the same functionality and benefits in terms of data driven solutions for your website and business. But there will be one key addition in the form of tracking for apps as well as websites. Apps are a new frontier that many businesses are utilizing in terms of customer interaction and engagement. 

There will also be two key changes in the ways in which the service measures data and communicates that to users. Firstly, GA4 will be event based in its tracking, rather than relying on sessions. This allows them to be more granular, and track a users’ total journey across multiple visits. This intuitively reflects the way more users interact with websites, often visiting and returning as part of the same journey with smaller sessions in terms of time spent. 

The other important new feature for GA4 will be automatic alerts set up for if there are notable trends or changes in the data. This allows you to be more responsive and reactive when it comes to making changes as a response to customer behaviour. 

We will be making the transition for our clients onto the new GA4, with our custom reports soon reflecting this change. 

There should be two takeaways for any business owner when it comes to utilizing Google Analytics: one that it’s absolutely necessary, and two that you don’t have to try and take it on alone. 

As experts when it comes to making the most of a business’ online presence, we’re on hand to talk you through how you can be making the most of this vital tool. Simply get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you!