[3QF-GA-7] Google Analytics: Behavior
Updated: Aug 31
Welcome, budding analysts, to another post which will help you traverse the vast and treacherous landscape of Google Analytics.
In those previous posts, we provided an extensive overview of Google Analytics capabilities in a broad sense - but now we are going to look at the system's reports in greater detail.
For those seeking more detailed information about Google Analytics, I recommend looking into ClickAcademy's 3-day Google Analytics Certification course, taught by yours truly. Up to 95% funding for the course is available - and you can find more details and a sign-up page here.
We'll begin our report coverage with Behavior and take a close look at the 'Site Content' part of the Behavior section. Site Content is good place to start as it is easy to understand and fundamental to getting familiar with how people are using your website.
Site Content contains 4 reports:
This 3 Quick Facts will cover each of these with the exception of Content Drilldown. The reason Content Drilldown is excluded is that it has become less relevant in recent years as many websites no longer organise pages with folders. For those websites with a more traditional architecture, this report can still be useful, though.
We will also only cover the report section as the Explorer chart rarely provides any useful information.
1) Use All Pages as your 'anchor report' for the Behavior section
The first report to look at in the Behavior / Site Content section of Google Analytics is the All Pages report.
The All Pages report provides metrics about the dimension Page, which is a collection of all of the page names of your website (for more on dimensions and metrics, please refer to 3QF-GA-6, point 3)
The first metric to look at is Pageviews. Pageviews reports the number of times a page has been requested by a visitor to your website and, to answer an oft-asked question, yes, a page refresh/reload counts as a pageview. Unique Pageviews, however, do not count refreshed pages - and so Unique Pageviews or 'uniques' will always be lower than Pageviews.
Pageviews and uniques are among the most important metrics in Google Analytics because they tell you which pages on the site have been viewed the most and are, probably, the important pages for visitors. This information is valuable as it can stop your organisation spending time on pages few people visit (e.g. 'About') and redirect efforts towards those which visitors frequent (e.g. 'FAQ').
Because the report tells you what visitors care about, All Pages should be your 'anchor report' for this section. It's likely that you will visit it almost every time you log in to Google Analytics.
The other metrics in the report are relatively self-explanatory, the sole exception being Page Value, which is useful but an advanced topic. If you have questions about any of the other metrics, hover over the '?' for more details.
2) Use Exit Pages to look for 'leaky' pages
The Exit Pages report is a list of Pages, like All Pages, except the metrics tell you how many times the page was the last page of a visit (Exits). When you divide that by the total number of times the page was viewed (Pageviews), you get % Exit, or the percentage of times this page was viewed as the last page of a visit.
This is not particularly useful information. There is no real benefit to be had by knowing whether a page has a 20% exit rate or, say, 40%.
You should, however, check this report every now and then to make sure that your most frequently-viewed pages do not have a % Exit rate of 90% or more. That would indicate that there is a problem with the page and it was losing visitors unnecessarily or 'leaky'.
3) Landing Pages shows you information about your visitors' whole visit
Predictably, the Landing Pages report is about the first page people visited on your site. Unlike the Exit Pages report, though, Landing Pages shows you much more than the % Landings which, curiously, it doesn't show at all.
Instead, the Landing Pages report reveals information about the entire visit for people whose visit started ('landed') on the Page. This includes useful information such as:
Sessions: How many visits started on the page?
Bounce Rate: What percentage of visitors viewed only that page?
Avg. Session Duration, Pages / Session: How long was the visit?
Conversions: Did the visitor do what we wanted them to do?
This information can be used to determine how well the particular landing page engages a visitor and convinces them to do something else. A page which is dull will have a high Bounce Rate and low Pages / Session. One which is more interesting will tend to have a low Bounce Rate and high Pages / Session.
It's much harder to determine the influence a landing page has on a conversion, though. So while conversion rates are always interesting, web analysts are advised to avoid making too many conclusions from these figures.
If you have a reasonably good understanding of these three reports then you are ready to go on to the next section (covered in the next 3QF post). If not, then go get a Google Analytics account and view the reports first hand. You should be able to understand the reports in the Site Content section in less than 15 minutes.
Until next time, happy analytic-ing!