Deconstructing Google Analytics Metrics

The analytics of a new customer is both exciting and revealing at the same time. Most of my new clients have not had the time to create any blog or social media posts in the past. With the introduction of blog and social media posts only, we are able to substantially increase their exposure. In the first month one of my clients saw the following results:

  • Sessions +1550%
  • Users +1614%
  • Pageviews +952%
  • % New Sessions +43%

We also saw some negative results:

  • Pages/Session -36%
  • Avg. Session Duration -78%
  • Bounce Rate +433%

My reaction to these results is that we attracted a tremendous amount of new users to the site and recieved a substantial increase in exposure, but the quality of the users is what we need to focus on in month two. In the second month we saw these results:

  • Sessions -38%
  • Users -40%
  • Pageviews -10%
  • % New Sessions -7%
  • Pages/Session +45%
  • Avg. Session Duration +135%
  • Bounce Rate -11%

While at first glance, these results might not be what we were hoping for, they actually provide an incredible amount of information that we can use to continuously improve our marketing strategy. Our audience has stabilized and we can better see what they are doing on our site. Lets look at each one individually.

Sessions (total number of Sessions within a date range, user actively engaged): While the number of sessions is down from month one, the net increase in sessions is still a healthy number compared to when we started.

Users (at least one session within a date range, new or returning): Users decreased in the second month but the site is generating a good volume of traffic and continues to get exposure. I believe that through consistent delivery of valuable content we are holding the interest of our audience.

Pageviews (total number of pages viewed, repeats included): A slight decrease in page views could mean a few things. First, it could mean that our returning users are not looking around as much since they have recently been to the site. Secondly, it hints at how fresh/stale each page is. We need to build up our strategy around each page and ensure that the content stays new and valuable. This is a metric that I want to watch closely going forward.

% New Sessions: A drop of only 7% from month one is good considering that we are only using social and SEO strategies to drive traffic. I believe that one of our next big efforts needs to be focused around SEO while continuing to grow our audience through social channels.

Pages/Session (average number of pages viewed during a session): An increase of 45% in pages/session shows interest in our content. I believe this comes from our new users who are exploring the pages. This in combination with the relatively unchanged pageviews metric is a good sign, but there is always room for improvement. Quality of content is one of our primary strategies.

Avg. Session Duration: An increase of session duration by 135% is nice to see. This indicates that the quality of content is improving and holding our audience. Luckily my client has beautiful content that is hard to ignore. We can further increase this number by providing different types of content such as video.

Bounce Rate (% of single page visits during session): Bounce rate is improving. Users are exploring the site as a whole. This reinforces that we need to continue to focus on a strategy for each page to keep the content new and interesting. We need to provide reasons for users to explore the site and not let it grow stale.

Overall, I think the quality of audience is improving. In the near future we have some work to increase the volume of users to the site and the number of pages they interact with. With each month, our strategy will evolve to respond to the metrics. Ultimately, our goal is to grow the business and expand in our niche.

Google Analytics is hard to argue with - the story is black and white. It helps us understand where to focus efforts and improve the overall strategy. What does your analytics say? 

Carie Omland

Social, SEO and ecommerce. An online strategy service.