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Advanced Google Analytics Training: Going Beyond the Basics

By Townes Haas   |    August 15, 2014   |    12:53 PM

Understanding Google Analytics’ Visitor, Geo/Behavioral and Custom Goal Information

The article “Your Small Business Website Needs Google Analytics, and Here’s How to Get Started” reviewed the basics of setting up and understanding Google Analytics, including what it is and how to use certain data like bounce rate, pages per visit and traffic sources.

While this information may be enough for many website owners, others may want more in-depth data on visitors and how these visitors are using the site.

Visitors Flow

The Visitors Flow report is located under the Visitors section of the Standard Reporting tab. The Visitors Flow report shows how people move through a website from how they came to the site (source) to the pages that they visited to what page they left or exited the site from.

The Visitor Flow information is broken up into nodes and connections. The “node” represents a value of some sort, whether it’s a page, traffic source, campaign, browser, etc. The “connection” is the path that the visitor took through the site.

The importance of the Visitors Flow report is many fold, including that it allows website owners to:

  • Determine where most traffic goes after visitors come to site.
  • Figure out where most visitors leave the site. If most people are leaving the site at a particular page or set of pages, these pages could be manipulated or tested to determine if changing copy, call-to-actions or images modifies behavior.
  • Determine which channels and campaigns are most effective to driving people to do an action.
  • Determine which pages drive the most conversions.

Understanding each of the aforementioned outputs from the visitor flow can be very powerful for your team. Armed with that knowledge, you will be able to effectively make data-driven decisions on your

Demographical/Geo/Behavioral Information

The Audience Report within Google Analytics provides more in-depth information about visitors, including who they are, where they are coming from and who has been to the site before. The Demographics section provides information on the age and gender of the visitor, and it also provides information on their interests.

The Geo section provides data on language and from where visitors are coming, including country and city. The Behavior section will break down whether a visitor is new or returning to the site. Other information provided in this section includes Technology (type of browser or operating system), Mobile (what type of mobile device visitors are using) and Custom Variables (which are specialty tags that can be added to the analytics tracking code).

The overall importance of this data is that it allows website owners to determine if they are reaching their target audience. For example, if a page on your website was created to target 50-year-old women in Kansas who speak English, but most of the traffic is coming from 20-something Spanish-speaking women in Texas, then the site may have to be tweaked to better reach this other audience. This information can be very effective with A/B testing.

Custom Goals

Goals allow website owners to determine how well their site is driving people towards an action, whether that action is buying a product or simply signing up for a newsletter. Custom goals can be added to a transaction page like the Thank You or Order Confirmation page.

Once set up, the Custom Goals information will show up under the Conversions tab. Website owners will be able to see the conversion path, including traffic sources and demographic information. It will also show how many people or percentage of people coming to the site has converted.

If conversions are low, website owners can perform A/B testing to determine if low conversions are being caused by on-site copy, messaging, forms, etc. Website owners should have a goal in mind that they want to reach, i.e. X number of conversions per month. The data in the Conversions tab can help determine if those goals are being met, and if not, what could be some of the causes.

Google Analytics provides a ton of information to website owners. Understanding this data can help improve overall traffic to the site and conversions.

Do you use advanced techniques in Google Analytics for your website data? Tell us about it in the comments!