It’s time to dig a little deeper into Google Analytics. In our last FAQ post, I covered the basic information you can derive from the platform. Now, we’re going to look into your site’s users and what they are doing while on your site.
What is the difference between users and sessions?
When you look at the traffic data for your site, you will see two numbers identified as “users” and “sessions.”
Users are the number of people who have come to your site.
Sessions are the number of times your site has loaded for people.
To explain this further, let’s say Bob comes to your site, buys a product, and leaves. This would show in Google Analytics as one user and one session. Betty may come to your site, find a product, decide to leave the site, and then come back again to make a purchase. This would show as one user and two sessions.
The numbers you see are the total number of individuals (users) that have come to your site during the specified time, and the number of sessions is how many times all of those users accessed the site.
How do you know how many repeat visitors a site receives?
Google Analytics gives you this information under “Returning Visitors.” It’s located right underneath “New Visitors.”
Those returning visitors will add a session to your total number of sessions for the specified time. What you don’t know is how many times each returning visitor accessed the site. So, it’s possible that one returning visitor accessed your site 2 times and another accessed it 15 times. Either way, they’ll be listed as a returning visitor but you won’t be able to break down who is who.
Don’t worry, though. There’s a lot more information you can use to see what people are doing on your site.
What is the difference between bounce rate and exit rate?
One of the first behavioral metrics you can analyze with Google Analytics is bounce rate vs. exit rate.
Bounce rate is defined as visiting a site and then hitting the back button to return to the referring site.
Exit rate is when someone uses a site by going from one page to the another and then decides to leave the site.
When people bounce from a site, it usually means they didn’t find what they were expecting. The referring site didn’t do a good job in guiding the person to your site, or your site isn’t providing what users are looking for in a quick, easy way.
Every visitor will eventually Exit a site. The exact reason depends on which page the visitor was on before exiting. For example, if your visitor exits after requesting a quote, then that person is leaving because s/he has nothing left to do on the site. If your visitor exits on the request a quote page, then that could indicate a problem with the copy or layout of the page.
How does Behavior in Google Analytics help you?
The Behavior section is great if you want to see where people go on your site, and then where they exit. You can track the number of people who go from the homepage (or any entrance page) to another page, and then another page.
You can use this information to come up with reasons they may be leaving the site. For example, if there are a lot of users exiting the site from a product page, there’s something about that page they don’t like. It may be the price, the image of the product, or something that is written about it. This information can be used to adjust the page to see if you can increase conversions.
Let’s take another example. Maybe you see a lot of people go from the homepage to a service page, and then to the contact page. This seems like a great funnel, but most of those people never convert. With this information, you can examine that page to see what may be the cause. If people go from the service page to the contact page, it must mean they have the intention of contacting you. There may be something on the contact page that scares them off. Consider the wording of the copy on that page, or the length of the contact form. Some people won’t complete forms that request too much information, so you might consider making a form shorter to see if the page converts better.
How does Google Analytics track conversions?
A conversion means a certain action that a user takes on a site. Typically, conversions refer to making a purchase, filling out a contact form, signing up for an email newsletter, or taking another action that moves them through the sales process.
The way Google Analytics tracks conversions is through Goals. Below are instructions for how to create a goal:
After creating the goal, you’ll have to wait for it to start tracking what users do on your page.
Knowing how many people convert will tell you which marketing strategy is most effective. You can then focus on pages that don’t convert as well.
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