The premiere -- and really only -- universally acknowledged metric for your website’s performance is Google Analytics. The reason for this is that the Google search engine is far and away the most used and relied upon search engine for the internet, worldwide. Even in countries that suppress the free-flow of information, such as China, it is still the most widely used search engine.
This short blog post will provide summary explanations of how to interpret the data from Google Analytics. It does not cover every metric Google Analytics provides, but it will provide an overview that will help you understand what you are seeing when you examine your site’s performance.
Your OneEach site may or may not have Google Analytics installed. As the site was developed in conjunction with your project manager, the person representing your organization may or may not have chosen to implement it.
If you do not know if your site has Google Analytics, all you have to do is inquire with OneEach if your site has been configured for use with it. You can do so by submitting a support request at:
If Google Analytics has not been installed on your site, the fist thing is to create a Google Analytics account if you don't have one. Do that by following the instructions at this link.
After you have set up Google Analytics, just contact us and provide us with your Google Analytics tracking number. Using that number, we will configure your site to use the Google Analytics service.
Setting the Context
The first step in understanding Google Analytics is understanding the role your web site plays in your non-profit. As a non-profit organization, you will be looking both at revenue and at site traffic. Focusing on both of these will inform how you look at the data and how you should interpret it. Keep that in mind as you decide how to use the data Google Analytics provides.
A page-view is what it sounds like: an internet user viewing a page on your site. However, page-views in and of themselves tell you little, because a given user can just refresh a page and generate another page-view. Google Analytics also lists unique page-views, which are separate visits to your site where the same page is opened one or more times. That tells you the actual interest in a given page.
Visits and Clicks
Google Analytics defines a ‘visit,’ as a given browser session on your site that remains active when visiting. A visit ends when the browser closes or has been inactive for a half an hour -- so if someone minimizes a page, or just moves tab to the back of a browser window and leaves it alone, the visit will end in thirty minutes regardless of what the user does subsequently. If he or she maximizes the page or returns to the tab after thirty minutes, it’s a new visit.
Clicks happen when a user selects an element of a page. Google Analytics shows the number of clicks, but also aggregates them per visit, because the useful knowledge is what a user does during a visit, not simply the number of times an element is clicked.
Google Analytics has a ‘frequency and recency’ report that shows sessions (visits) and unique page-views. A little simple division shows you the number of unique page-views per visit.
Google defines ‘bounce rate’ thus: “Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions). It is the number of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Google analytics calculates and reports the bounce rate of a web page and bounce rate of a website.”
This is a bit misleading, because Google does not abide by its own definition. The bounce rate is actually the number of single-page visits, followed by an exit, and is not restricted to the home page. But either way, essentially it is the percentage of visits that result in users seeing one page, and then leaving right away. An excellent bounce rate is between 30% and 40%. Average is 40% to 50%. More than fifty percent means your site is not doing its job in retaining visitors, and it’s presentation needs to be addressed to made better.
This is arguably the most important report in Google Analytics. It tells you what visitors are visiting what pages, and which pages are generating the most unique page-views. It tells you what’s working and what isn’t, and where to focus your efforts.
This is part of the magic of Google, and it’s information you can’t get anywhere else. If a given visitor is logged into Google when he or she visits your site, Google has demographic data on that person and a record of their browsing history and interests.
The free version of Google Analytics provides minimal, but very informative, demographic data. Namely age, gender, and percentage spread in list of five interest categories. The interest categories are determined by the overlap that the visitors as a group have -- basically, the top five areas of overlap. That not only tells you who is visiting your site, but what they are interested in as a group.
If you choose to pay Google Analytics, there are three additional demographic reports available:
- Affinity Categories (Identifies users in terms of lifestyle - sports fans, for example, or runners).
- In-Market Segments (Identifies users in terms of their purchasing patterns).
- Other Categories (Identifies users in terms of a more detailed breakdown of categories than is provided in the free version. It just drills down, and lists more categories).
This has been a very short overview of Google Analytics, but like anything that is both informative and complex, there is much more you can learn about Google Analytics that will help you. We recommend you view YouTube videos on the subject, review the Google Analytics online documentation, and seek out any information you can on how to best use the Google Analytics service.