How to check traffic on your website using Google Analytics

7 min read
Watb Team
A busy City street full of cars

It’s tough deciding where to spend your time and money when it comes to your marketing… but what if you could easily understand where you should be spending your budget AND exactly how many sales and enquiries each marketing tactic provided?

In this article we explore exactly what information to look at to help assess your most powerful marketing strategies. What you will learn here will enable you to make data driven decisions on how to adapt your marketing strategy to receive the best ROI.

This article is for those new to website Analytics. I am assuming that you have a website with Google Analytics installed. If you don’t yet have Google Analytics installed, please contact your website developers or alternatively contact us at info@watb.co.uk for support on how to ensure Google Analytics is connected to your website.

If you haven’t got access to Google Analytics, or you want estimates on traffic from a website you do not own, check out this guide by our friends at IncomeDiary.

This guide will show you (click to skip to section):

How to check website traffic – including pageviews, unique pageviews and sessions (and what those words mean!).
How to change the date range in Google Analytics
How to find out the performance of each page of your website
How to find out where your website traffic has come from. Ie, how people found your website.

First, sign in to your Google Analytics account: https://www.google.co.uk/analytics/

FREE and actionable…

This is the key tool to measure and check website traffic over time. It is a free website traffic checker tool provided by Google and is one of main areas for any SEO consultant to find the information they need about website traffic. Once you understand the basics, you too can begin to play with the software.

(For the purposes of providing an example in the screengrabs, we have used a site which is not live yet and have permission from the owner to share the data)

What Pageviews, Unique Pageviews and Sessions tell you

There are a few different metrics which Google collects, each meaning slightly different things. It is important to understand the differences.

What is a ‘Pageview’ in Google Analytics?

A pageview is counted each time there is a visit to one of your pages.

What is a ‘Unique Pageview’ in Google Analytics?

This is triggered each time there is a visit to any of your pages, but each user is only counted once even if they visit the same page multiple times within the same session.

What is a ‘Session’ in Google Analytics?

A single session means the user has entered your site. It is unaffected by how many pages the user visits – it will still count as the same session. If the user leaves your site or is idle for 30 minutes, the session ends. So if the user comes back later that evening to view your site again, they will then begin a new session.

When you first enter Google Analytics, you will be presented with the Audience tab > Overview. The graph here shows you how many Sessions have been completed on your website as a whole.

You will also be presented with information including Sessions, Users, Pageviews, Pages/Session (pages per session), Avg. Session Duration and Bounce Rate underneath the graph. These are all interesting metrics to view. In this view, these figures are an average taken from how users interact with your entire site.

TIP – You can scroll over each of these headings to find out what they mean in more detail. For instance, in the screenshot below I have used my mouse to scroll over the “Sessions” heading and received an explanation on what that metric shows.

Google Analytics Start Up Screen

That’s quite a bit of information considering all you have done is log into Google Analytics and selected the first page. So let have a look at what else you can find out within this view.

Google Analytics – How to Change Date Range

Changing the date range is easily done by clicking on the date in the top right-hand corner. You can change it to the “Past 30 days”, “Past 7 days” or select a single day or as many months as you like with a custom select. Remember that if you do change the date range to be small or particularly large, it will change how your graph looks. In this occasion, such as in the video below, you can change the graph view from Hourly, Daily, Weekly or Monthly. This allows you to see trends over time.

The video also shows you how to change between different types of metric such as Sessions and Pageviews so you can view them in the graph over your specified time frame.

Google Analytics Date Range

TIP – Have you made any changes to your website which could have affected the trends in this graph? Perhaps a new blog or change in content to your home page has resulted in more pageviews?

Google Analytics – Individual Page Performance

To drill down further into your data, you may want to learn which of your pages, or articles, are the most popular. You will usually look at metrics such as Pageviews, Avg Time on Page and Bounce Rate.

Avg. Time on Page – This tells you how long the average user spends on your page. If you have an article which is about a page in length (500 words or so) it may take one or two minutes to read. If your average time on page length is around the read time then it suggests that your audience is reading the entire page, which is usually good news.

Bounce Rate – This metric needs to be considered carefully. If a user “bounces” off a page it means that they have come to the page and then left the browser. So a low or a high bounce rate percentage can mean one of two things; either your audience have got the information they need, and so left satisfied; or it means that they have not got the information they need and so have gone away from your website.

You can see metrics on your individual pages within the Behaviour > Site Content tab on the left-hand side.

Google Analytics All Pages

Bounce rate affects your rankings

There is no single ideal bounce rate. Your ideal bounce rate depends entirely on your goals for the website. If you are an informational blogger, you may be happy with people simply reading your content (based on high Unique Pageviews, high Avg. Time on Page, and possibly social share counts), so bounce rate is less important. However, if you are a using your website to generate income, possibly through an enquiry form or a through selling a product through your online store, you may want your service and product pages to have a lower bounce rate. This will suggest that your users are clicking through to the “Buy now” or “Sign up here” page.

Google Analytics – How to find out where your traffic has come from

One of the most useful pieces of information to find out is where your traffic has come from. There are a few ways to find out this information. Each method provides slightly different data, but the easiest method is to use the Acquisitions > Source/Medium section.

Using Source / Medium, will be able to tell which of your users found your website through Google search, through your paid ads (if you have any), through other websites, or through Social Media accounts you post on.

By utilising UTM tracking codes, you can learn exactly which marketing campaign is providing the best ROI.

Source/Medium has a few general rules which will already be set up to differentiate channel referral stats. Each different channel has a different tag to help you discover where your website traffic has come from. Here are a few of these codes:

  • “CPC” it is likely to be a paid source through Adwords – ie, “google / cpc”
  • “Organic” or “Google Referred” it is likely to be through non-paid Google search results –  ie, “google / organic”
  • “Facebook” or “t.co” that will include Facebook and Twitter referrals – ie, “facebook.com / referral” or “t.co / referral”
  • If there is a website address in the Source/Medium, that will be the website which referred you the traffic – ie, “en.wikipedia.org / referral”
Google Analytics Source Medium

Did you know? Bounce rate and average time on page are two metrics which Google is said to look at when deciding where to rank your website within Google search.

Looking for more Google Analytics tips? Be sure to check out the following articles:

A sudden drop in form enquiries or website sales? Check these things first.

How to use UTM Tracking to measure your marketing campaigns

Setting up Google Optimize

Google Analytics is the key tool to measure and check website traffic over time. It is a free website traffic checker tool provided by Google and is one of main areas for any SEO consultant to find the information they need about website traffic.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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