Google Analytics: Some Valuable Things It Can Teach You About Your Network – Part 1Ning’s Tips and Tricks
You’ve read about Google Analytics. Perhaps you have gone through the FAQs about Google Analytics on our Help Center (if you haven’t, you should!). But you may still be wondering: what is the big deal about using Google Analytics in your network? Hopefully, by the end of this post you will no longer wonder, and you’ll want dive right into the seas of data that are available to you with Google Analytics.
First off, as a Network Creator you should realize the importance of analytics, metrics, traffic data or however you call them. Analytics empower you to make good decisions about your network because they tell you what your members, as well as visitors who are not members yet, are doing while they are spending time on your network.
But Google Analytics tells you so much more. In this post we’ll talk about four areas in Google Analytics that should help you go a long way.
Dashboard: The Bread and Butter
The Google Analytics dashboard, like any self-respecting dashboard, provides you with key information and an elegant entry point to dive into many of the other sections in Google Analytics. Among the top pieces of info you get are Visits, Pageviews and Pages per Visit.
Pay close attention to your pageviews. If you run your own Pay-Per-Click ads, your pageviews are your lifeblood: the more pageviews, the better the chances of members clicking on those ads, which in turn leads to more revenue for you. Pageviews are affected by two main elements: Visits and Pages per Visit. Either one of these numbers going up or down will affect your “bottom line.”
Other numbers of interest displayed here, depending on the goal of your specific network, are Bounce Rate, Average Time on Site and Percent of New Visits. These three metrics relate to how sticky your network is: how inclined someone visiting it will be to go past the home page, how much time they typically spend on the network and how many of your network’s visitors are new.
Visitors: Who Are They? Where Are They Located?
Your visitors, as you may realize, are not only your members. Even if you have a Private network, visits to the Sign-Up/Sign-In page are recorded by Google Analytics. So potential members who may have landed on your network’s main page by way of Google, Yahoo! or just about any other web site are leaving valuable bits of information behind them for you to look at.
The Visitors section is so rich in information that it can be overwhelming. But one specific area that I love taking a look at, at least weekly, is the Map Overlay. Using shades of green it shows the origin of your visitors, letting you dig deeper by clicking on countries, all the way down to the city level. Precious information for those that need to do visitor segmentation!
Traffic Sources: Rare Keywords Are Your Friend
The traffic sources section can be fascinating not only because it shows you as the Network Creator which web sites or search engines may be sending you traffic (which is useful in itself). It also lets you realize what keywords are leading visitors to your network by way of the search engines.
Keyword information lets you do priceless Search Engine Optimization tweaks with minimal effort: for example, by featuring an item that ranks particularly well among search results for a keyword you hadn’t thought your visitors were interested in. Make a habit of looking at the keywords report no less than once a week. You WILL be surprised!
Content: Who Is Your Most Popular Member?
Content is king: the golden rule has never been so true. And the content section of Google Analytics lets you zero in on what content your visitors are spending time on while on your network. The Top Content view (or Content by Title, if you dislike viewing reports packed with URLs) offers you just that.
This is different from the keywords information just discussed, but lets you do something just as powerful. Arguably, for instance, if a particular member’s profile page is generating an incredible number of pageviews you could reward that member or acknowledge him or her in some way. That’s just one idea, but you can see how simply having access to this information creates endless possibilities.
Dig into Google Analytics and follow some of the tips above. In part 2, we’ll discuss how to take advantage of goal setting in Google Analytics to accurately track new member sign-up.