Most Important Google Analytics Metrics in Simple English

  1. Goals

Goals provide the benchmarks central to measuring the success of a website by fulfilling set targets. How a client envisages the growth of their website and the time frame in which this needs to be achieved necessitates the creation of goals. Each goal that is defined tracks a completed activity that directly effects the client’s website success rate e.g., the number of mailing list subscriptions, completed sales and e-commerce transactions. Implementing strategic goals creates an automated, actionable and easy-to-follow process of creating insight to optimise a website, whilst enabling the client to evaluate website effectiveness and further adapt or refine strategy.


  1. Demographics

User profiles can be analysed to determine demographics (i.e., average age ranges, genders and online preferences). As a strategist, it is vital to engage and communicate with target audiences, determined through demographic data, and direct marketing efforts accordingly. Customers of different age ranges are likely to require different products and services or may be most active online at different times. For example, visitors in the 25-35 age range bracket may visit the website the most but only on the weekend. This powerful insight, would allow the client to construct content to appeal to this age group, optimising audience engagement. Further, targeted advertising during this advantageous moment could be employed while it is most impactful.


  1. Interests

An especially powerful feature of Google Analytics is the ability to identify the interests that users display in particular areas and products. Generated interest profiles, or ‘Affinities’, can be incorporated into the client’s brand, helping to define brand design and direction to better engage target audiences and create a competitive advantage. A sub-feature of Affinities is In-Market Segments, which can further identify users with common characteristics, allowing the client to focus resources on their most valuable customers and markets. This knowledge on audience trends is particularly effective for email marketing, SEO campaigns and product launches.


  1. Languages

The languages report displays how many visits and website interactions have occurred across hundreds of different languages, with information gathered from users’ browser settings. When employed as a tool for understanding the client’s audience better, languages can provide insight into how a website’s content and design is resonating with the audience across different languages or cultures and make a crucial difference to attracting potential visitors or making a sale. Languages are an important metric to consider and can be one reason that an otherwise great content strategy can underperform with your target audience. For example, the decision to use British or Canadian English on a website, when most users’ browsers are set to American English, could alienate or confuse the client’s audience, potentially leading to reduced impact. Finding the differences between languages and their impact on success rates when attracting new audiences and completing sales can allow the client to better focus their resources on where they are needed to make the most impactful improvements relevant to their business.

  1. Locations

Understanding where the client’s real-time audiences are located allows better focus on both offline and online marketing efforts, whilst providing a framework for improving or streamlining content strategy. With the many different metrics and data types available for analysis in Google Analytics, it can occasionally be difficult to know where to start looking to pinpoint a problem, such as, lower visitor traffic or decreased sales. Breaking down a problem into locations helps to provide a clearer picture and framework for action. Data from locations, at a national and regional level, can assist in creating a complete profile of both current and desired audience or customer base and add value even in offline marketing efforts. For example, the client could deduce that their completed sales are significantly lower in Canada and get valuable information and insight that allows the customisation of their campaigns and website design to optimise the experience of visitors and/or customers from that location.

  1. Mobile

A huge growth in smartphone adoption means that mobile web usage has overtaken desktop and laptop, with 51% of all web pages loaded with a mobile device to desktop and laptop’s 44%. Visiting a website from a desktop computer or mobile device can differ in aesthetic design, page load times and useable website features (e.g. comments sections), and can also vary significantly from device to device. Analysing areas of a client’s website on different devices that attract the greatest audiences can provide unique insight into how users browse their website, alongside any user challenges they may face – problems encountered are likely to stem from unoptimised design or a lack of resources directed towards mobile development. If significant differences are experienced in time spent on a page, bounce rates or conversion rates, between Android tablets and iPhones for example, it can be of great value to the client to prioritise development in these areas, using the targeting ability that mobile metrics provide. If a client is not achieving their stated targets with mobile audiences, it may be necessary to develop mobile apps to better market your company and improve the user experience of smartphone and mobile audiences, who now account for over half of all viewings of web pages.

  1. Acquisitions

The acquisitions feature lets the client know how their audience finds their website, what they do on the website once they arrive and whether they sign up to email newsletters, click through to further content or make a purchase. Analysing acquisitions data helps to understand how current advertising campaigns are performing and provides insight into which sources are channeling the greatest number of potential customers, whether by search engine, paid advertising campaigns or referral by other websites or social media. Acquisition reports are central to a/b testing (an experiment where two or more variants of a page are shown to users at random) and critical to optimising website design to drive higher conversion rates for the client. During the redesign of a website or the launch of a new product page, careful attention should be paid to the acquisition reports to make the most of the resources at the client’s disposal. With every visitor and website user, the client has an opportunity to convert them into a customer, newsletter recipient or social media follower and knowledge of this important feature can enable them to optimise this process and delegate resources effectively.


  1. Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the online visibility of a website in the ranking of search results when using an online web search engine, such as Google or Bing. These are often referred to as “natural” or “organic” results. Optimising the number and quality of keywords on web pages, building links to a client’s website from other trusted websites and ensuring well-designed and effective content are robust techniques for search engine optimisation. Client benefits include pulling in more customers from search engines while improving the overall reputation and visibility of the client’s online brand. The ‘Queries Report’ within Google Analytics details both the average position a website ranks in search engine results when searching for associated keywords and also the number of impressions generated whenever the website is shown within search results. As such, the search engine optimisation report is a powerful resource for ascertaining the optimal keywords to utilise while giving the client indications of click through rates from website content.


  1. Social

Social reports track the flow of user traffic from social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) and provide a clear picture of which networks are channeling the most users to a client’s website and whether social media marketing campaigns are having the desired impact. Understanding the strengths of a website’s brand via different social media platforms allows the creation of effective marketing and content strategies that resonate with the client’s audience and attract regular visitors. For example, were Facebook to be the source of the most visitors to the client’s website, the client should consider making it the social media hub of their brand and prioritise product releases, competitions or announcements on this platform accordingly. The importance of social media and network referrals for marketing has grown significantly over time, however, with a large amount of social media platforms to consider and a wide range of data from each, it can be challenging to extract useful insights for huge volumes of information. The Google Analytics social tool assists in collecting a wide range of useful information in one place for easy analysis and data management. Combined with the ability to implement conversion goals and advertising spend information, this manageable tool provides an impactful visual overview of social media performance on Google Analytics.