With many types of reports and filters available in different categories, Google Analytics—Google’s free tracking tool—offers businesses access to vast volumes of data that can provide insights into how well their websites are performing and how they could be improved. As ubiquitous as the use of Google Analytics is in the business world, many companies rely on their agency partners to help them make better sense of their data.
Figuring out which metrics to focus on in Google Analytics reporting can be tricky, as every business has its own strategy and goals to account for when evaluating this data. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share valuable data points they keep an eye on to gauge how effectively a client’s Web presence, content and user experience are contributing to meeting those objectives.
1. Referral Traffic Data
Referral traffic information is key because it allows the agency to identify which websites and platforms are driving the most traffic to the client’s site. This can help the agency create targeted marketing strategies and campaigns to maximize the effectiveness of its efforts and drive even more traffic to the client’s site. – Stephanie Chavez, Zen Media
2. UX And Customer Journey Distinctions
Look at user experience and customer journey distinctions by geography, demography or language. Although they represent only part of a user’s interaction, engagement and duration metrics related to specific content help identify where the brand message is successfully engaging customers and where it’s missing the mark. – Raul Garza, TKO Advertising Inc.
3. The Multichannel Report And Events
For us, a big learning lesson came six years ago. We had a client who believed search wasn’t converting because they were receiving direct messages on their social media, so they cut the search budget. Within five weeks, they asked us to turn it back on because inquiries had dropped to zero. We discovered that their customer journey started from search, and social proof was the kicker. – Kevin Dam, Aemorph
4. Traffic To Specific Pages And Average Session Duration
Google Analytics can tell you what content people are finding and what is resonating with your audiences. This allows you to determine if you need to boost awareness of content through copy on your website, blog posts, infographics and more. In addition to the traffic to specific pages, don’t forget to look at average session duration to gauge if they’re reading all the content you’re creating! – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications
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5. Clicks From Guest-Contributed Articles Or PR
Agency owners can see how their thought leadership, content marketing and PR efforts are performing by looking at how many people are clicking from their off-site content back to their website. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
6. Custom Dimensions
Using custom dimensions to track audience persona categories (populated via a custom data layer) allows marketers to understand website and page efficacy by audience. However, it also provides a unique capability: You can import audiences into Google Ads, then build lookalike-targeted campaigns to target audiences that are not otherwise available in the ads platform. – Justin Cook, 9thCO Inc.
7. The User Explorer Report
We use the user explorer report to find out how visitors get to a website and navigate around it. This helps us determine if the content or navigation needs to be adjusted. The goal is to ensure visitors are finding the information they expected to find and that the site is leading them efficiently down the conversion path. – Megan Devine, cat[&]tonic (formerly d.trio)
8. Devices Customers Use To Access Your Site
Google Analytics can show how your customers are accessing your site, whether it’s via mobile device or desktop. In healthcare and B2B, the majority of users still use desktops. While most companies prioritize mobile-first design, it’s important to understand your customer journey—for example, they might seek information on mobile yet purchase on desktop. You’ll need to optimize user experiences accordingly. – Jill Collins, Audacity Health
9. Visit Duration And Browsing Path
Google Analytics has changed the game when it comes to creating remarketing campaigns for our clients. It allows us to track things such as visit duration and even the path that a new visitor took when they browsed the site, so we can create a much more relevant ad to retarget. This increases the likelihood that new visitors who turned away will come back. Its ease of use and flexibility are unmatched. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
10. Search Queries, Keywords And Top Pages
Google Analytics lets you see the query used by your Web visitor. It also tracks keywords and the top pages of content. Since much of what we deliver is writing, this helps us better understand the needs of visitors (via their queries) and which content is effective (by the rank of pages and content). – Jim Caruso, M1PR, Inc. d/b/a MediaFirst PR – Atlanta
11. Behavioral Reports
Google Analytics is invaluable when it comes to understanding audience behavior, both in terms of driving traffic to your site and then evaluating what they do when they’re there. Behavioral reports help determine which levers to pull within your digital strategy. When set up correctly, your behavioral reports will track audiences end to end—from acquisition through to conversion. – Greg Salmon, Agent3
12. BigQuery Linking In GA4
One of the best features in Google Analytics 4 is BigQuery linking. GA4 property owners can now enable the data export to BQ to utilize the raw event data collected on their websites and apps. GA4 can also connect raw data to AWS, Azure, Snowflake and more. Agencies should ask clients to enable BQ linking, as it unlocks advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics and machine learning models. – Scott Sullivan, Adswerve
13. Time On Page
We consider time on page to be a most critical engagement key performance indicator. Reach and visibility only get you so far. And looking at all other measurements of engagement—bounce rate, click-through rate and so on—can help you lead your key audience to absorb all you have to offer. – Townsend Belisle, Haystack Needle LLC
14. Conversions By Channel
Companies often keep tabs on how many leads they generate but don’t look closely enough at how they generate them. Knowing the exact source of each website conversion can guide decisions. With proper tagging and tracking methods, you can also dive deep to understand the specifics that led to a conversion, from campaigns to audiences to ad copy. – Christine Slocumb, Clarity Quest Marketing
15. Behavior Flow
I absolutely love behavior flow, especially if your site is conducive to a lot of exploring. While time on page is important, I want to know if my paid media investment is really worthwhile. Sure, some high-fives will be given if they come to your page, but for us, the real joy is seeing users explore and really consume the content. Behavior flow helps us really see how (and if) they’re doing that! – Mike Leon, Brand Heroes Inc.