If there is any tool that I would a call a “must” for an online business, it would have to be Google Analytics. The wealth of information that it offers up is unparalleled, allowing you to spot areas where your business is booming and where you’re losing ground online.
It’s a relatively easy tool to set up, with many web-hosting services offering an easy “plug-in” feature. But once you’re up and running, it can be difficult - especially if you’re not used to looking at Analytics - to know what to look for.
Getting the basics right
The Google Analytics homepage offers you some great stats out of the gate. By default, it shows your website traffic over the past seven days (not including the day you are currently on). It’s easy to change this to any date range you might like - whether that be a month, year or from the moment you first set up Analytics.
Depending on the range you select, Google will show you a comparison against the previous time period. With this, you can see if you’ve been gaining or losing users to your site. It’s a useful tool if you’ve been pushing your online presence, to see whether your actions have been a success.
Similarly, the homepage shows you details about when users are online and what devices they are using to access your website, along with top pages. There’s lots of good info, and if you don’t want to dig deeper, you can certainly get by with some of this alone.
However, this is just a snapshot of your website’s performance - and you can find much more if you look at some of the other reports available. If you select “Acquisition” and then “Overview” from the left side of the Analytics page, you’ll be able to see a breakdown of how people have reached your website.
Take a closer look
There aren’t any true benchmarks for what is “good” for any of the traffic sources. This is because it depends on how much emphasis you’ve put on each source. If you’ve invested a lot of time in your social media, you might expect the Social source to be one of your top traffic drivers. If it’s not, then it’s a sign that your current output is not the right style for getting people to your site.
Organic Search is a great first place to look. This shows you the number of people who found your website through a Google search, ignoring any Google Ads you may be running - these you can find under Paid Search.
While there’s no benchmark number to aim for on Organic Search, it should ideally be in your top traffic sources. A strong showing on Organic Search indicates your website is set up well with SEO (search engine optimisation) and ranking high in searches. This is obviously a goal for any website, as it’s free traffic when set up correctly.
Similarly, referral traffic can be a good way to see which other websites are linking to your page. This is particularly good if you work with affiliates, as it allows you to see which are bringing in the most views to your page.