The age old business adage: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is certainly appropriate when it comes to your website content. For many small and not so small business owners, the investment in our websites is a key component of our marketing strategy. So how do you know if anyone is visiting your site, reading your content and hopefully, converting from visitor/observer to client? Enter Google Analytics.
But there is good news/bad news story with Google Analytics. The good news with Google Analytics is that it can show us everything we need to know about our sites. The bad news is that there is so much data available that it can not only be overwhelming, but it can be difficult to understand how to turn the data into actionable information.
There are 4 key metrics that Google Analytics offers that can help us figure out if our content marketing is effective.
Average Session Duration
Average Session Duration is how long a visitor to your site stays on your site during a single session. The goal would be that this value increases, or at a minimum, doesn’t go down. Better, relevant and compelling content as well as supporting links in the body of your site (posts, resource links, newsletter sign-up, etc.) can help to increase the Average Session Duration.
So where is it?
To find the Average Session Duration, go to the Overview tab and look for the “All Website Data” dashboard.
If you use an email marketing program such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, iContact, Vertical Response, Bounce Rate means something different than does Bounce Rate in Google Analytics, hence some of the confusion. Bounce Rate in Google Analytics terminology refers to the percentage of users that visit just one page or tab before leaving your site. The goal here is for the Bounce Rate to be as low as possible since you want visitors to spend more time and visit more pages or tabs. Why? The more time and content that they view would indicate the visitor is interested in what product or service you are marketing on your site. How can you improve your Bounce Rate? Just as with Average Session Duration, compelling content is a critical component. Having a call to action (click here for a free offer, subscribe here, etc.) is another component. You may also want to create individual landing pages linked to advertising (traditional as well as Pay-per-Click [PPC] campaigns) content that drives visitors to your homepage.
So where is it?
If you found the Average Session Duration from above, the Bounce Rate is just below it (Overview tab All Website Data Dashboard Bounce Rate)
Users – New and Returning
Knowing how many people are visiting your site can be a good indicator of whether people are interested in your content. In Google Analytics terminology, “Users” refers to the number of people viewing your site. New Users are those visitors who are viewing your site for the first time as tracked by their IP address. Returning Users are those visitors returning to your site. Users – New and Returning is reflected as a pie chart. If New Users is higher, it means you’re drawing in new visitors. If the balance on the chart reflects a higher percentage of Returning Users, congratulations! You (and your content) are doing a great job retaining visitors. Using your complete marketing arsenal is one way to drive users to your site. Make sure you include a link to your site with all of your marketing collateral, both traditional and online. Posting ‘teaser’ social media content with a link to your complete blog, for example, is one way to accomplish this as it opens your site to followers or friends from your social media efforts. Leverage your network by posting a guest blog on a networking partner’s site with a link to your site is another way to tap into a broader network.
So where is it?
“All Website Data” dashboard Right Pie Chart of New and Returning Users
Organic Search Sessions
Organic Search Sessions are leads generated through organic search traffic. These are the visitors you get who do a search via their browser for your product or service and do not click on any PPC campaigns. In other words, these are people who are actively looking for what you provide. Leveraging yet another Google tool, Keyword, search for terms relevant to your business and include content based on highly searched terms. There are also Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that you can leverage to help assess how to improve your content and your SEO rankings.
So where is it?
Google Analytics Dashboard Acquisition Comparison of Organic Search vs. PPC campaigns, social links, and referral traffic.
Taking advantage of the data that Google Analytics offers can provide information to help improve your content marketing strategy.