How To Understand the Basics Of an Analytics Report

How-to-Understand-the-Basics-of-a-Google-Analytics-ReportEverything you read tells you how vital it is to track and monitor the performance of your website. Whether you use HubSpot (like us) or a competitor (such as Google Analytics), there’s no doubt that if it’s your first time trying to read—let alone understand—an analytics report, it’s no small task. If you’re new to content marketing, it’s not something you can learn on the fly.

We’ve put together some basic info to help you determine what the different terms mean and how to analyze the results in a basic analytics report.

Site Usage

This section of the report shows you a broad overview of the traffic to your site. It defaults to a 30-day period, but you can change this to view any specific period. It includes the following info:

  • Visits – this is the number of times users have come to your site during the period
  • Page views – the total number of pages seen by all your visitors together
  • Pages/visit – the average number of pages visitors viewed per visit
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of your visitors who left directly after arriving on your site without viewing any pages
  • Average time on site – the average duration each visitor spends per visit
  • Percentage of new visits – the proportion of your visitors who came to the site for the first time

Explanation: Visitors Vs. Page Views

Analytics reports help measure your marketing ROI. They give you the number of unique browsers you’ve had during the selected period as well as the number of page impressions.

In the old days, everyone spoke about “hits” to their website. This became something of a dirty word in the content marketing world, because it was rather ambiguous. Webmasters would quote hits as the traffic to their site, giving the suggestion that these were actually browsers. Since then, the term page impressions has become more widely used, but it means the same thing. Here’s the difference:

Browsers: The term unique browser refers to a visitor to your site. Browsers are typically counted on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, but when you mention your number of unique browsers you’re usually talking about the monthly total. For example: Peter visits your site every Thursday to read your latest blog post. He’s counted once only each time he visits as a daily unique browser. He’s counted once only each week as a weekly unique browser, regardless of how many pages he reads each week. He’s also counted once only each month as a monthly unique browser, no matter how many times he has been to your site in the month.

Impressions: Every single page Peter visits counts as a page impression (previously known as a hit). Each time any page on your website is loaded fully and seen by an user, it counts as a page impression.

The difference is that unique browsers are the total number of people your website reaches, whereas page impressions indicate the number of times your web pages get seen/read.

Traffic Sources

We all want to know how users arrived on our website. The Traffic Sources section of your report shows the top 10 referring URLs, the top 10 countries and the methods by which the users found their way there. These are typically broken down into:

  • Direct traffic – the percentage that typed in the name of your site and came directly there
  • Search engine traffic – the percentage of your traffic that came via organic search based on your SEO rankings
  • Referring sites – the percentage that came via sites such as social media marketing profiles, directories of construction contractors and backlinks from other sites.

In the case of the last two, the report lists the top 10 referrers and the percentage that came from each one.

These are the two most important aspects of your analytics reports. Based on this intelligence you can identify how users are getting to your site, where they are coming from and what they are doing/viewing when they get there. This helps you to tweak your content marketing accordingly to improve what works.

Inbound Marketing 101