How to Interpret Google Analytics Reports



Photo from Stock That Rocks

Ok friends, this is our 5th post in the Google Analytics Series, and we’ve learned so much! So far, we’ve learned lots of important analytics terms, key metrics you need to watch (and what they mean), how to set up your analytics, and how to set up and use goals.

What progress have you made with your analytics? Have you been using it differently for your blog? Have you noticed anything interesting?

Today, we’re talking about how to make sense of your analytics reports. They can be completely overwhelming, so that’s why I create beautiful Google Data Studio dashboards for all of my clients. These one-page dashboards are as easy to use as a Google doc and put all the important info front and center in an at-a-glance format (so you can make informed decisions and go get good stuff done, lady!).

You probably want to know if your hard work is working well for your goals, so today we’re examining 3 common goals and trends you should look for to see if you’re hitting these goals.

Before we begin, a BIG caveat, friends: You and you only know your audience and website best. There is a lot of heated discussion in the marketing world about how to interpret analytics data, and the interpretations I’m presenting here are just some of the many possible options for why you might get a certain number. Use this article as a way to learn about how to think about this data, rather than an exact definition of what each one means.

Let’s use data to find out how to hit those goals, shall we?

Goal: Increased Audience

How to Interpret the Data

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably spend most of your social media time on Instagram and a good bit on Pinterest. But are those actually working for you?

Take a look at your traffic referral sources. What do you see?

If you’re like a lot of people, your biggest sources of traffic are from organic traffic, which means they found you on Google.

Take a look at your direct traffic vs other sources. How much comes from social media?

Now, compare that to how much time you put into your SEO strategy and your social media time…which one has the biggest ROI in increasing your traffic? My guess is that SEO outweighs social media BY FAR, but I’d love to know your experience with this. Let us know in the comments!

To be fair to social media, there are a lot of ‘soft’ benefits that come from social like relationship building, brand awareness, and inspiration. Those are all super important! But if your goal with your blog is to make money, then it’s a good idea to put a lot of focus on the numbers that show results for that.

Action Step:

What is your biggest source of traffic? Organic search (aka, SEO)? Social Media? Guest posting? Find the one that’s your biggest source and go after it, hard! We’re cheering you on!

Goal: Engaged Audience

How to Interpret the Data:

Now that you’ve maximized your traffic referral sources and increased your audience, the next step is to measure engagement. Because thousands of visits don’t mean a thing if they visit only for a second or two, never to return again.

So, what does an engaged audience look like in Google Analytics?

An increased session duration.

  • If people are coming to your site and sticking around longer and longer, this is a good sign that they are taking the time to read what you write.
  • Keep in mind–only you are your competition. Don’t worry about how other people do in this area, just focus on being better than before.

Increase in pageviews.

  • Are your pageviews increasing? Are people curious enough about your content to visit more than one page?
  • What kinds of pages are they visiting on your site? Is there a certain kind of post that’s really popular, or perhaps people are curious about reading your about page?

Accomplished events.

  • Are your users doing what you want them to do, like opt-in to a freebie, watch a video, or follow you on social media? Doing each of these things indicates an engaged audience, and you can determine which one shows that for your audience best.
  • If you haven’t set goals yet in Google Analytics, then be sure to read our previous post on that to set it up.

Healthy mix of new and returning users.

  • Ideally, your blog will have a good mix of new and returning users.
  • New users show that you’re appealing to a new audience and that your base isn’t stale.
  • Returning users show that your content is consistently relevant and that the new users are converting into returning visitors, which is great for demonstrating loyalty and engagement.

Action Steps

  1. 1

    Does every page on your site (including each post) give the visitor a clear next step once they’re done reading that page’s content? Perhaps include a sidebar of links to other pages on your site, a call to action for a course or product you sell, or related posts. Give your audience some easy choices, and they’ll take them.

  2. 2

    If your revenue depends on advertising or affiliates, then an engaged audience is a big deal. What are the comments sections of your posts like? Do you stick around and respond to questions in the comments, or prompt them with questions at the end of a post? While this comments themselves aren’t a google analytics metric, they are a sign of an engaged audience, so be sure to encourage and interact with your audience there.

  3. 3

    Link the pages of your site that get the most engagement around the internet (because obviously they’re popular!). Repurpose the blogs as guest posts, share with people who might find it relevant for their site content, and post in social media groups when appropriate.

Goal: Increased Revenue

How to Interpret the Data:

Part 3 and the Holy Grail of blogger goals is revenue, #amiright? You certainly blog because you love it, blogging is a labor of love, after all, but it’s a good thing to get paid for your hard work.

The data here is fairly straightforward–you’ll see those dolla dolla billz in the bank. But there’s also more to this than meets the eye, especially if you’re not hitting this goal like you could be.

So we’re looking at this goal through the lens of missed opportunities and interpreting the data to see what you might be missing out on in terms of increased revenue.

If you’re seeing a short time on page and huge exit rate on your services, or especially the contact page, there’s something wrong. This could mean that people are leaving these pages out of frustration.

Or, if you have a high bounce rate, especially on your product pages, it could mean that how you present yourself and what you sell (promote, advertise, etc) don’t match up. Or it could mean that your prices are too high, or the UX is bad, shipping is outrageous, product photography is bad, or just generally hard to use. If you’re not seeing sales, make adjustments.

Action Steps

  1. 1

    Is your contact form easy to use, or does it require mother’s maiden name and SSN? (joking of course, but let’s make it easy for people to email you, ok?)

  2. 2

    Consider having a web designer do a UI/UX audit of your site. What would they improve on your site? Then fix it, lady!

  3. 3

    Do your offerings and your content make sense?

  4. 4

    Tweak your sales pages to see if this increases users’ engagement, and overall sales.

Ok, my friends! We have learned so much today about the possible ways of interpreting your Google Analytics. Remember that the interpretation part is an art, not a science, and that only YOU know your audience best.

So, what ways have you interpreted the data of your Google Analytics? What has the data told you about your audience and your goals?

Wanna learn even more about Google Analytics? Check out our other posts in the series: