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Google Analytics: In Plain English

The most common feedback I receive when sending out the Quarterly SEO reports is that Practices do not understand the overwhelming amount of data that they’re looking at on their Analytics reports. I’d like to provide what I hope is a helpful explanation of Google Analytics in terms of which data is important to your practice and why. WHY USE GOOGLE ANALYTICS? Google Analytics can tell you how many people came to your website, where they came from (including search terms), where they are going on your website, and how long they’re staying. You can also track visitors by geography, and view under-performing pages. All of this information gives you a snapshot of how well your website is performing. You can take that information and make changes as you see fit both to your marketing strategies as well as the website itself. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY NUMBERS ARE GOOD? Glacial measured the numbers of approximately 150 ophthalmology practices nationwide based on one full 3-month quarter. We then calculated the averages for the key performance indicators, which we call “benchmarks.” Following the explanations below, you may see the relevant benchmark and what that benchmark means for you. WHAT AM I LOOKING AT ON THE REPORT? The following explanation will cover the first page of your analytics report, since the subsequent pages simply go further in depth on each piece of this “snapshot” of your website traffic. DASHBOARD This is the first page of your Google Analytics report. At the top, you’ll see a graph similar to an EKG, that gives you information about the evolution of traffic that’s coming in. You can choose to set it on a long period of time, or you can set it on a specific day. For our illustrative purposes here, our explanations are based off a full 3-month quarter. SITE USAGE VISITS This indicates how many people have visited your site during a specific period of time. Glacial Benchmark: 1200 What the Benchmark means: If you’re below the industry average, you need to take a look at your SEO keywords rankings. If the SEO results are good, then you may need to take a look at your advertising strategy. PAGEVIEWS A pageview is defined as a view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code. If a visitor hits reload after reaching the page, this will be counted as an additional pageview. If a user navigates to a different page and then returns to the original page, a second pageview will be recorded as well. PAGES/VISIT The average pageview of one visitor. Glacial Benchmark: 2.2 What the Benchmark means: If you’re below the industry average, it may mean that people are not finding the information they need, or they may not like the look of your website and be enticed to visit more pages, or perhaps they are having browser issues (ie, using a slow connection, or accessing a full website from a mobile device which skews the appearance of a page). BOUNCE RATE A bounce occurs when a visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages less than a minute after they entered. A higher bounce rate can indicate a few different things, mainly: Either your visitor didn’t find what he or she was looking for, or he or or she wasn’t really a quality lead (someone sincerely interested in the services your practice offers). A lower bounce rate means that people are staying on the site longer, and clicking on different pages of the site. Glacial Benchmark: 46.7% What the Benchmark means: If you’re not doing any paid search or social media, you can expect your bounce rate to be a little lower. If you’re advertising heavily, you can expect it to be higher. This is because the VOLUME of visitors does not always equate to a QUALITY of visitor (for a medical practice, a visitor is considered “quality” when they become converted to a “lead”–or someone that your practice can contact for scheduling a consultation). When you draw in a large volume of visitors, you will inevitably have people clicking onto your website who are not actually interested in the services you provide; they might just be “surfing” and have found something about your site interesting. This is why we recommend a “lead tracking software” such as MDProspects to help you gauge the success of your marketing efforts and whether or not the people who are clicking on your site are actually being converted into quality leads. AVERAGE TIME ON SITE The amount of time a visitor stays on the site as a whole. Glacial Benchmark: 2.2 What the Benchmark means: If you’re below average, it’s similar to the amount of pageviews per visitor, where: people are not finding the information they need, or they may not like the look of your website and be enticed to visit more pages, or perhaps they are having browser issues (ie, using a slow connection, or accessing a full website from a mobile device which skews the appearance of a page). NEW VISITS Percentage of new (not repeat) visitors that visited your site. Glacial Benchmark: 65% What the Benchmark means: If you’re below the industry average and your SEO rankings are good, it may indicate many different things and it’s time to talk with your marketing director and examine your marketing strategies. VISITORS OVERVIEW This section gives you many interesting comparisons. If your practice has a blog, it can be useful in gauging the loyalty of your readers, the length of their visit and more. TRAFFIC SOURCES OVERVIEW This is perhaps my personally favorite section of Analytics, when going over a report with a practice. The following areas tell us where your traffic is coming from, and in turn helps us gauge the success of our SEO efforts, marketing efforts, and branding efforts. Generally speaking, I like to see a large percentage of traffic coming from the search engines, since that means our SEO efforts are helping you to attract customers who have not yet decided where they’re going to go for a consultation. – Direct Traffic: This visitor is not finding you through a search engine or referring site, they already know who you are and are typing your URL directly into the address bar. This indicates that you have a “brand name” presence, as visitors are searching for you by “brand name.” – Referring Sites: This visitor has clicked on your website from another website. Often, these visitors find you through Yelp, Facebook, or marketing campaigns like Google Pay Per Click ads or the paid banner ads you see on online newspapers. – Search Engines: This visitor has found you “organically,” that is, by typing in keywords to Google or Bing and clicking on you when your name pops up in the results. CONTENT OVERVIEW This shows you the top 5, or 5 most popular, pages of your site. the “/” page is simply your home page. For most practices, the most popular pages are the home page, the doctors, self evaluations, and contact or driving information. I often use this information, along with the “mobile device” statistics, to help a practice gauge whether or not it’s time to start looking at a mobile site (a website formatted to be viewed from an iPhone or other popular mobile devices). DRILLING DOWN: BEYOND THE BASICS Google Analytics is a powerful tool, and the dashboard report really only scrapes the surface of the sheer volume of data that can be tracked. When we go beyond the “dashboard” or the “top 5,” we refer to this as “drilling down.” While an Analytics report can drill down on just about any piece of data, it’s important to keep in mind that not all metrics really matter when it comes to determining the real ROI of your marketing investments. This September, our CTO Onur Birsen will be hosting a webinar on Google Analytics. He will also be presenting this topic in person at MIMS 2011, and I would encourage you to attend. Analytics is a fascinating science and a very useful tool for any marketing director or business owner.
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