— July 25, 2019
Google Analytics isn’t just for knowing how much traffic your website is getting, your top pages, and how your traffic sources and marketing efforts are performing. Nope. There is an even better use for it!
It’s also really important to use it to help improve your website – so it converts many more visitors into sales, leads or subscribers. But unfortunately, Google Analytics can be a little daunting at times, particularly with seemingly endless reports to check out and analyze. Where should you start for best results?
To help you make sense of this, I’ve created a list of the best Google Analytics (GA) reports so you can quickly gain more insights into your website performance and what needs improving most. I have also recently included a video of me walking you through these great reports. Let’s get started…
The best Google Analytics reports to improve your website
Update: Watch a video of me guiding you through these key Google Analytics reports
Last year I created a premium video about these best Google Analytics reports. It was originally part of a paid membership but I have decided to now include it on this article for everyone to watch for free. In this video you will also learn how to create a Google Analytics dashboard for these reports. Enjoy!
Check the landing pages report for pages with high bounce rates and low conversion rates
Your top landing pages (entry pages) are crucial to optimize because they often get very high levels of traffic, and are the first pages your visitors see on your website. If visitors don’t find what they are looking for or are confused, they will leave your website often within just 5 seconds!
To improve your website with this report, pull up the your landing pages report for the last 30 days (found under ‘Behavior > Site Content > Landing pages’). Then see which pages out of the top 10 have highest bounce rate (over 50% is high) and which have lower than website average goal conversion rate (both indicated below in yellow) – these are indicators of poorly performing pages on your website.
Then optimize these poor page performers first – improving headlines, benefits, imagery and call-to-action buttons are some of the best ways to do this. Optimizing these helps increase visitor engagement and increases the chances of them converting for your key website goals. You should also ensure you show your unique value proposition more prominently on them.
Analyze your Funnel Visualization report for high-drop off rates and optimize
It doesn’t matter how good your website is if visitors struggle to get through your checkout or sign-up flow pages. To understand how well your visitors complete that process, its vital you check your Funnel Visualization report. On this report (found under ‘Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization’) you can see how many visitors get through each page of your funnel (like your billing page), and which pages are most problematic – even where they go if they go to another page.
You need to pay great attention to any pages with a high drop off rate (more than 40%) and optimize those first – adding security seals and risk reducers, reducing distractions like header navigation, and improving error handling often work well. Improving these pages will greatly increase your conversion rate, and therefore your sales or signups.
Note: Obviously you will need to have made sure you have setup your goals for your website adequately, including adding key pages in your goal flows. Here is a great guide on setting goals up.
Check your traffic overview report for poor performing traffic sources
Improving the quality and quantity of your traffic has huge impact on your website conversion rates, sales or leads, and its vital you gain insights into traffic performance and optimize the major sources.
To help you gain greater insights into this, pull up the ‘Channels’ report as Google calls it (found under ‘Acquisition > Channels) and check which of your top 10 traffic sources (channels) have high bounce rates (over 50%), or a goal conversion rate that is much lower than your website average. This is particularly important to do for any source that you are paying for like paid search or display advertising, as you will need to optimize these quickly to reduce your wasted spending.
You should also look for traffic sources that seem low or missing from the top 10 channels. For example, you may find your email traffic source isn’t as high as you had hoped for or isn’t converting well, so you should optimize your email marketing campaigns as soon as possible.
Note: You may even find your email marketing campaigns are not being attributed correctly to the email traffic channel, which can be fixed by using campaign tracking codes for your emails. I highly recommend doing this to monitor the success of your email marketing efforts.
Discover insights from your organic search ‘not provided’ keywords
You have probably noticed that when you look at your top organic search keywords report that a very high percentage of them are ‘not provided’. This is because users are often logged in to Google when they search and they won’t share their keywords with you for privacy reasons.
Instead of just giving up, you can actually gain insights about what these ‘not provided’ keywords are likely to be. You can do this by finding out which landing pages are most often arrived on from keyword searches. Simply go to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages, and then filter the report for top ‘clicks’ (click on that column header). This shows you which pages visitors are most often seeing when they arrive via keywords. You will then often be able to infer which of your keywords relate to these pages (especially when you cross reference it with your keywords that are provided in your organic search keywords report).
For example, my top organic search landing page is actually this article you are reading, and when I look at my top keywords searches, I see that ‘best google analytics reports’ shows up in my top 10 search keywords, so that is likely to be the keyword that drives me the most traffic. This organic search landing pages report also shows other very useful metrics like conversion rate for goals, so you can also infer how well your keywords are converting – something that no other SEO tool can tell you either.
Use the mobile overview report for tablet/mobile insights
Mobile traffic is bigger than ever before, often accounting for over 40% of total website traffic depending on your type of website – and these visitors have very different needs due to smaller screen sizes, and often convert much lower than regular website traffic.
To understand your mobile traffic, and its performance, you need to check your ‘mobile overview’ report (found under Audience > Mobile > Overview). Here you need to see just how high your traffic levels are for both mobile and tablet devices, and see what the conversion rate for each is. If conversion rate is much lower for any, you need to check your website on that device for key issues and fix them immediately – in particular ensure you have a mobile-optimized version of your website.
Note that mobile conversion rates are often lower than desktop conversion rates because these visitors are often just browsing when they are not at home and not ready to purchase or sign up, but anything under 0.50% mobile conversion rate is considered very low.
Check the exit pages report to find problematic pages
You also need to find out which pages are most often causing your visitors to leave (called an ‘exit’ page) – and improve and optimize those too.
To find these top exit pages, check your ‘exit pages’ report (found under ‘Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages). In particular look for any pages that shouldn’t be in the top 10, and try to figure out why so many people exit your site on them. Also look for pages with especially high exit rate (over 50%), as this often indicates problems. I recommend that you also use Hotjar to gain insights into why visitors are leaving on these pages.
A few ways to improve these top exit pages is by using and optimizing call-to-action buttons at the end of them (the wording and style of them in particular), and try using exit intent popups to show a great incentive (discounts/free guides etc) before visitors leave your website.
Analyze the top pages report for key missing pages and high exit rates
Your top pages report can contain some real gems for insights – and not just what your top 10 pages currently are. You can find this report under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
First, check if any of your top pages have high exit rates (over 50%) and optimize those as soon as possible. You should also to check if any pages relating to your key goals seem missing from this report or have low traffic. For example, perhaps few people are visiting your important ‘why us’ or benefits page – making links more prominent to these pages will hopefully drive more traffic to them and increase the sales or leads coming from them.
Check the browser report for poor conversion rate performers
Your webpages can sometimes look slightly different or even break in some browsers (often due to small differences in how browsers show CSS code). This can unknowingly cause you many lost sales or leads.
To make sure this isn’t negatively impacting your website, you need to regular check the ‘Browser & OS’ report (found under ‘Audience > Technology) and make sure your conversion rates aren’t much lower for any browsers. If you see ones on this report that are much lower, you should go ahead and check for technical problems like CSS rendering issues and fix them immediately.
These are the simpler reports, there’s many advanced ones too
These are just some of the simpler Google Analytics reports that will help you improve your website. Here are a couple of the many more advanced ones to learn about:
- Using the ‘Converters’ visitor segment to figure out the behavior of people who convert for your main website goals (sales/leads etc).
- Using the ‘Site Search’ report to find pages causing most amount of internal searches (indicates visitors not finding what they need).
If you are interested in learning more about these advanced GA reports, simply comment and let me know.
No time to analyze Google Analytics reports or not good at it?
If you don’t have time or the skills to gain insights from your Google Analytics reports you should check out my ‘Google Analytics Insights’ service – I’m sure you will find it useful for improving your website.