Google Analytics – the Fundamental Data Point
Being that our Webinar, “Introduction to Google Analytics for the Dental Team” is coming up soon, I thought that now would be a good time to introduce everyone to the main reporting view of the Google Analytics dashboard. And even if you aren’t going to the free webinar on 2/15/17, you will still find the following information helpful. Note that if you can’t make the webinar, please sign up anyway, as you will be able to watch the recording.
The goal of this post is to empower you to look at the very big picture of your data from 50,000 feet. Having this knowledge will allow you to answer the following question:
“I signed up with ABC Marketing Company 6 months ago to get new patients and drive more visitors to my website. Do I have more visitors per month today than I did 6 months ago?”
Let’s take a look at some data
Audience Dashboard – the Default View
Whenever you open Google Analytics, the program will by default open to the Audience Dashboard. This reporting screen looks like this (click to enlarge).
Let’s quickly walk through these items to give you a basic understanding of the data you will see in front of you. And if you have questions, please feel free to join our privates Facebook group for dentists and dental team members.
- Sessions. Sessions is the number of total visits to the pages on your website. .
- Users. Users is the total number of unique people visited your website. People can visit more than once, which is why the sessions number is often greater than the users number.
- Pageviews. Pageviews are the total number of pages that visitors viewed on your website in the given time period.
- Pages/Session. The pages/session ratio is a measure of how many pages people viewed during the average session. For a blog, this number is expected to be low since people visit the blog post, read it, and navigate away. For a service-based website such as a dentist or physician’s office, we like this number to be higher, as we want people to engage and spend time on the website.
- Average Session Duration. The average session duration tells you how long each session lasted on average. In this case 00:19 (19 seconds) is low – even for a blog-based site. .
- Bounce Rate. The bounce rate is a measure of how many people left after viewing only one page. For example, if 10 people visit your “About” page and 6 of those visitors read the about page and then move on to a different website, then the bounce rate is 60%.
- % New Sessions. The % of new sessions is a measure of the number of sessions that were from new users. In this case a 98% new sessions rate implies that the overwhelming majority of users visit the site only once. And while this behavior might be expected for a purely blog-based website, this is not the behavior we’d like to see for a health-care website.
A Note about Date Ranges
At a minimum I recommend that you login to your Analytics account once per month to look at the number of users, the pages per session, and the avg. duration per session, and compare these numbers to the previous month. If nothing else, this information will let you answer the three following questions:
- Do I have more users than I did last period (last month, etc.) (compare user values)?
- Did people look at more pages on average than they did last month? (compare pages/session values)?
- Did people spend more time on my site than they did last period (compare avg. time on site values)
You can always make a chart and write down the values for the month. However, if you’d like to let Google Analytics do the comparison, click the down arrow where you set the date period, and check the “Compare to:” button.
I’ve created a video on how to do the comparison – you can find it here.
While Google Analytics (GA) can be used to present a vast array of complex data to help make marketing decisions, the first step in taking control of GA is examining the basic data points presented in this post.