How are you driving people to your website?

Published: Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

In the first part of our Google Analytics (GA) series we had a broad look at the basic features of this free web tool. This time we dig a little deeper into the analytical functions beginning with ‘Acquisition.’ This feature not only identifies the sources and volume of your website traffic but also reveals on-page goal conversion rates for your sales, sign-ups and downloads. Over time this data presents a pattern of behaviour that businesses can use to their advantage. Knowing where your visitors are located and how the majority are finding your content is vital information for helping small and medium sized businesses make better decisions regarding their web design and digital marketing activities. So how does it do that?

Acquisition overview

On the left side menu on your GA homepage you will see the Acquisition tab listed between Audience and Behaviour. Click on it to reveal the drop-down menu of subcategories: all traffic, adwords, search console, social and campaigns. In the overview you get a broad look at the traffic coming into your website from various sources:

Direct – visitors who type your URL directly into their browsers to find your website
Social – visitors who arrive on your website after clicking on a post they saw on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google+ or some other social media channel
Referral – visitors who click on links to your website from websites other than a search engine e.g. directories, online magazines and papers, blogs
Organic search – visitors using search engines like Google to find what they want i.e. clicking the links that appear in results pages underneath the Google ads

Channels where your website traffic is coming from 

Let’s drill deeper into the channel data. Click on ‘All Traffic’ in the menu then click on ‘Channels’ and Google will reveal a list of ways that visitors find your website; referral, direct, social or organic search. Now click on the channel you want to explore further. Google reveals more data for you to analyse. Set the calendar to the time period you want to measure then click apply. Google breaks down the websites that visited you in a given period by the number of sessions, new users, bounce rate, pages per session and time spent on your website for each session.

Treemaps: primary & secondary website metrics

This is another handy feature in GA reports that allows the user to measure two different metrics – primary and secondary. Click on the primary metric and then choose one of the options you want to measure; goal completions, goal value, new user, sessions etc. Hover your mouse over the question mark feature beside the primary button and Google will explain each function if you are unclear about its purpose. Then choose your secondary metric. For example, you may want the metrics on the number of sessions plus the goal conversion rate. The Tree Map will colour code the results from low to high for referrals, social, organic and direct channels. Now hover your mouse over the speech bubble beside each of the channels to reveal the relevant corresponding data. There is a Tree Maps feature for your ad campaigns as well in the Adwords section.

Source/Medium Report: website traffic & behaviour

Next click the source/medium option on the menu, this is another way to identify where your traffic is coming from and more importantly, what they do when they arrive on your website. The Source is the location where users are before viewing your content and includes search engines as well as websites. The Medium describes how users arrived at your content e.g. they clicked a link in Google search results (organic) or clicked on a Google Ad (google CPC), referral from another website or ‘none’ for direct traffic. This gives you more insight into how you are driving people to your website. Which medium is proving more effective for you? PPC ads, social media or organic traffic?

Referrals: are you attracting the right kind of audience?

The referrals tab is another feature that lets you drill down further to gain more insight about your website visitors. There are two features to this; the source and referral paths. The Source path are the websites (not search engines) where your visitors were before they clicked a link to take them to your website. Do you get a lot of traffic from a particular website, like say Twitter? This can be useful data in determining which websites appreciate your content and what kind of audience they have. The Referral path is the name of the link that visitors clicked on to take them through to your website. The source and referral paths tell you a lot about the kind of audience you are attracting and the kind of content they are interested in. Are you attracting the right people with the right content, or do you need to adjust your digital marketing strategy?

Why is acquisition relevant to web design?

Because again, it’s all about recognising patterns of behaviour over time that help businesses make better marketing decisions.  Acquisition data shows where your audience is coming from and the content they clicked on the most, as well as goal conversion data. That can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of your marketing channels to drive traffic to your website but it also tells you a lot about the quality of your web design in terms of landing pages, marketing messages and calls-to-action. So it’s worth familiarising yourself with this tool to gain more insight into your audience, or as Google would say ‘understand your customers so you can deliver better experiences.’

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