Google has some great help pages for using analytics, but there is a lot of information because there are so many things you can track.
Google Analytics is updated daily. You will be able to see information for yesterday and before. If you do not have access to analytics for a CMS site that you manage, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
Because there are so many blog sites within our system, we can provide specific reports for those when needed. If you are interested in analytics for a separate C-panel or WordPress installation you can contact IT Help to inquire about how to set up.
To get started, go to http://analytics.google.com/ and sign in with your Michigan Tech email account.
Google Analytics allows you to view data for a specified date range. The Select and compare date ranges page will show you how to change that date range and even how to view a comparison of two date ranges.
One of the analytics sections that the web team looks at the most is within the Behavior section. This section of analytics is all about what users are doing when they are on your site. Here you will be able to dig down into specific pages and see their performance. Google explains more about the Behavior Reports.
Under Behavior on the left, go to Site Content and All Pages. This is a great basic report to look at. There is a graph of the traffic for your site at the top. Beneath that are several statistics with columns of data. The rows are ordered by the pages with the most amount of traffic.
- Pageviews: Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Unique Pageviews: Unique Pageviews is the number of sessions during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each Page URL + Page Title combination. If I were to look at a page and refresh it five times, that would only count as one unique pageview.
- Avg. Time on Page: The average amount of time users spent viewing a specified page or screen, or set of pages or screens. Generally, more is better as most of our webpages are informational rather than transactional, but you do want to consider the content and purpose of the specific page when evaluating this. Two to three minutes is a good range. If a user has multiple tabs open and a particular page is just sitting open but not active, Google detects this and times out or discounts this behavior. There is a cap of 30 minutes for any one measurement. One thing that can affect this number is people having a certain page as their home page on a browser.
- Entrance: The number of times that this page was the first page that a user went to for your site. If it wasn’t the homepage, maybe they got to the page from a social media promotion or a link from a publication, the A to Z page, or an email.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds. Learn more. This is generally not good. If a certain page has a high bounce rate, you should probably revisit the page, its purpose, and the content. Generally, we want to keep the bounce rate below 50%.
- Exit %: When a user has been on at least two pages in your site then leave, the last page they were on is the exit page. Whether this number is good or bad depends on the purpose of the page. There is no magic number for this. If the purpose of the page is to get them to apply or to give a donation, you want your Exit % to be higher showing they are leaving your site and going to apply or donate.
- Page Value: This does not apply to our sites as it is for purchase transactions and we don’t do that.
If you click on one of the pages listed in the statistics you will see a graph and the stats for just that one page.
When you first log into Google Analytics the Audience Overview page is displayed. This page will show you a snapshot of the traffic on your site within the date parameters you set. At the bottom of the page are links to additional information about your audience. Google has more information about all of the Audience Reports.
There are a lot of places throughout Google Analytics where you can hover your cursor over content to learn more. This is the case with the numbers listed under the graph. In addition to some of the statistics shown on the Behavior, Site Content, All Pages analytics, there are a few more.
- Sessions: Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.
- Users: Users who have initiated at least one session during the date range. Learn more about how Analytics calculates the number of users.
- Pages/Session: Pages/Session (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Avg. Session Duration: The average length of a Session. This is for the site as a whole, rather than any one specific page.
- % New Sessions: An estimate of the percentage of first time visits. This is normally determined by the device’s IP address. The number you want to see here depends on the purpose of your site. If you have an internal audience you probably will have a lower percentage in this statistic, but that is fine because you are more interested in the people that are already here coming back.
- In the Demographics area of this page you can choose to see information about language, country, or city. For more details about country or city demographics go to the report at Audience, Geo, Location. You can also see reports on System and Mobile information. Overall, the University traffic is close to 50% mobile.
This section of analytics tells you how your users got to your site and what they are doing on your site once they get there. You can read more about Acquisition Reports on Google’s site.
- Organic Search is traffic coming in from a search engine. This includes the search bar in the header of Michigan Tech websites.
- Direct is a user going to a bookmark or directly typing the URL in.
- Referral comes from links on sites outside of Michigan Tech, search engines, or social media.
- Social is any link coming from one of the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. For more details on Social Media traffic, go to the report at Acquisition, Social, Overview.
The real-time reports show information about what is currently happening. This could be useful in certain situations. For example, if you send out an email sending people to your website, you could look at the real-time analytics to see if users are going to the link.
If you want to learn more, Google offers free online courses for analytics.