Google Analytics (GA) is a super powerful tool. But just like any other depository of data, the amount of features doesn’t matter nearly as much as knowing how to use them. I’ve encountered many nonprofits who simply use it for checking increases or decreases in web traffic, because the amount of features is intimidating.
And I don’t blame them! So, we’re going to uncover some uses of Google Analytics data to help you get more insights from you website visitors. As good marketers, we should always be looking for ways to improve, and GA provides a multitude of suggestions for us to do just that. So without further ado, let’s dig into 3 areas where GA can show us areas for growth:
Use the “Most Visited Pages” to Prioritize Updates
At the very bottom of the Google Analytics home screen, there’s a super useful module titled “What pages do your users visit?”.
It’s just a simple list of your website pages, in order of most visited, but I look at it as a pre-organized list of the lowest-hanging-fruit on the website.
What I mean is that, if you’re going to test out a new feature, update a blog post, or make some other change, it’s probably best to start at the top of the list and work your way down.
For example, I have about 2 hours a week to spend on website maintenance. In a vacuum, I might think that tweaking the homepage would be the best use of my time, since “everyone looks at the homepage,” right? Wrong. Based on this table, I could make an impact 100x bigger by tweaking the “Use Gmail with your Own Domain for Free” blog post.
In reality, there are a few more factors that help me decide where to allocate my time on the website. But the point is that the amount of traffic each page receives should be a prominent feature of how you decide to maintain/tweak/update your nonprofit’s website.
Find Mobile Optimization Issues with the Audience Tab
Just above and to the right of the “What pages?” module on the homepage, there’s another called “What are your top devices?” which has a pie chart of the mobile vs. tablet vs. desktop traffic to your site.
Now, that pie chart alone is super useful for determining if it’s worthwhile to invest time in mobile optimizations, but we’re looking for something else right now. So click that “Mobile Overview” link in the bottom right corner, and scroll to the bottom of the following screen.
What you’re looking for here are the columns under the “Behavior” header, highlighted in the image. This section tells you the bounce rate & time on page of visitors on mobile, tablet, and desktop.
This table is super useful for diagnosing mobile optimization issues. If your mobile bounce rate is higher than the others, it’s very possible that your mobile website is ugly, unusable, or broken.
If that’s the case, you can segment the mobile traffic by page to further break down that number. Then use that data to investigate if the issue only occurs on one page, or happens across the board.
Connect Search Console to find Keywords to Optimize for
Many nonprofits I encounter are concerned about appearing in Google’s results (aka SEO), but don’t know where to start besides stuffing pages with keywords.
A more targeted and systematic approach would include connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics, so you can first get a list of what searches you’re already appearing on. Then, you can decide whether to play to your strengths, or branch out and try to rank for other related keywords.
I won’t go over how to connect the two, as there’s plenty of tutorials on Google’s website and elsewhere on how to do so—a quick search for “connect GA to Search Console” will bring them up. But once you do have them connected, you’ll see a screen like this in the “Acquisition” tab:
Just like with the “Most Visited Pages” table, this list goes from most-searched to least, and it can help you prioritize your updates in a similar manner. An extra super-feature of this table (in my opinion), is the right-most column which shows your average rank in the search results. With this column, you know exactly where you stand for each keyword.
For instance, you might want to rank on the first page for “urban farming,” but your average rank is “10.9”. In that case, it might be worthwhile to invest a bit of effort in Search Engine Optimizations for that page, to see if you can breach the threshold from “10.9” to “9.9”, and maybe even higher! Traffic scales exponentially in Google search results, so just a 1 point rank increase could make a big difference in your web traffic.
How do you use Google Analytics?
Before you go, why not share a Google Analytics tip of your own in the comments section? That way, we can all learn from each other. I look forward to hearing your tips! Happy growing!