Google Analytics - Using Users

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Google Analytics - Using Users

There are a lot of different ways for a user to reach (or not reach) your website. Part of your job is to determine what you want users to be doing when they get to you, but a big piece of that pie should be figuring out what users are doing before they get to you. Looking beyond your own website, to the start of a journey, can make the difference when it comes time to help a user end it.

The origin of your users is a telling metric, and is information that has value at every end of the web marketing spectrum.

Traffic sources will not only highlight where your activities are the most and the least effective, but can help you to identify unpleasant sources of traffic or questionable tactics.

A good example is the website with significant amounts of incoming referral traffic. These are ‘users’ (written with a hint of scepticism, because nine times out of 10 these are simply toxic SEO manipulation practices) who land on your site from places outside of Google’s search platform. On the surface one might think that more traffic is better traffic, but it does beg the question: where are all of these users actually coming from?

Unfortunately in most cases, these are spammers. By visiting your website multiple times and then bouncing immediately, they overwhelm your referral traffic metrics and ultimately increase their own SEO as Google crawls your site for sources. Doubly problematic is that these fake visits destroy the validity of your Analytics reports - creating false signs of traffic, bounce rate, and navigation.

The moral of that story isn’t all doom and gloom, though! Your mileage will vary, and Analytics is in place to help you identify both opportunities and issues. Once you’ve found a leak, you’re one step closer to plugging it.

Past the unpleasantries of identifying less than savoury sources of traffic, there are wondrous things to be discovered if you venture further down the Analytics rabbit hole. Where your users are from, geographically; whether they came from your social media, or a partner’s; if they clicked through from an email newsletter or campaign. All of it’s accessible, and best of all, actionable.

Users visiting from locations that aren’t entirely useful inside your funnel can potentially be narrowed down by publishing on geographically relevant topics (Trends will help, here.) A barren social media metric can, but doesn’t always indicate that your work on those accounts is lacking - instead you may need to start back linking to your site more regularly. Those are just a couple examples plucked from a wealth of usable information. The buck doesn’t stop there, either.

Knowing the origin story of each user is great for focusing efforts external to your website, but that same information is going to make it way easier to convert users as well.

If a large portion of your homepage traffic is coming from product-driven email blasts, redirect those links straight to your sales page(s). If readers are coming through from social, it’s safe to assume they’re invested in consuming your content. Send them straight to blogs or editorial, and save the conversion push for step 3 in their journey.

Again those points are just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, knowing why someone is spending their time with you is going to empower you to give them what they want, and hopefully bundle something good for you into the process.

Remember: knowing the why and how of each visitor to your website equips you with the ability to refine your activities online. In doing so, you’re poised to secure even more value out of your website.

If you’re not one to go digging through your Analytics, ask around!