Five Analytics Metrics You Can’t Afford To Miss

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emmadavis | Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Filed under: Basic, Basic, Intermediate, PPC Tips & Advice, SEO Tips & Advice, Technology

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When planning an internet marketing strategy it is imperative that you realistically budget your time and money for needed resources. All too often, one crucial aspect of an online promotion plan is dangerously overlooked: measurement analytics. It doesn’t matter how much or how long you spend on any given internet marketing tactic; without the proper analytics in place, it’s all for naught.

Don’t worry, though – if you’ve never set up analytics tracking for your website it’s never too late to get started. There are tons of great paid and free services out there but the best place to start is with Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to set up, making it an excellent choice for the first-time analytics user. Read on to learn about the five most important metrics for your business that you’ll find in Google Analytics.

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The Map Overlay

What Is It?: Located under the ‘Visitors’ section of Analytics, the Map Overlay is where you’ll find important geographic information about your customers. Not only does this nifty tool look impressive and cool, it also reveals truly compelling data about where users visiting your website are located. You can view this world map at max zoom-out at the Continent level, then drill down further and further until you can see visits from individual towns and cities. Within any geographic location you can view traffic data on the volume of visits, original traffic sources, time spent on the site and many more extremely useful areas of information.

What’s Great About It: Go into any brick-and-mortar business, take a look around at its customers and try to guess where they come from. Now stop, because you’re already assuming too much based on your own impressions. With the Map Overlay, you don’t need to rely on assumption to connect with customers from specific geographic areas. Not to mention this data is invaluable when it comes to planning locally targeted pay-per-click campaigns or social media outreach efforts. The correlation possibilities are endless: ever wished you knew the top keywords that drive customers from Topeka, Kansas to convert? With the Map Overlay this information and so much more is just a click away.

Top Content

What Is It?: You’ll find the Top Content section under the Content header; this is where you can view individual pages on your domain responsible for driving the most traffic and daily visits to your website. Depending on your business, this content will vary from individual product pages to blog posts to particularly useful information sections of your site. You can cross-reference other usage data from here as well to compare visits, clicks and traffic sources on each piece of popular content.

What’s Great About It: Let’s revisit that brick-and-mortar business. On any given day the manager could probably tell you the best-selling product or the display that draws people to it the most. What about for the last week? How about the last month? Tell me the five most popular products for the last YEAR. This is the level of targeting data one can achieve with the Top Content section. Even better, you don’t have to rely on human error or memory to deliver exact results.


What Is It?: This one may seem obvious but this is the section where you can view the keywords and phrases that are driving the majority of your traffic. Located under the Traffic Sources header, the Keywords section outlines every search phrase that landed a user at your website. You can view keywords through organic “free” sources, paid sources, or all together. You can search for all or part of a specific key phrase and organize your data in several formats based on the metrics you’re looking for.

What’s Great About It: Again, this may seem obvious but too many website owners overlook the wealth of information found in the Keywords section. You’ll find new ideas for keywords that never occurred to you plus variations on successful keywords you’ve already got on your radar. If one of your products is commonly misspelled in search engines, you’ll be able to determine the most popular misspelling that might be worth bidding on in a PPC campaign. Chances are you’ll spot a search query that inspires your next website redesign or latest blog entry. The Keyword section is like an x-ray machine for your website – use it to spot problems or focus areas that need work.

Referring Sites

What Is It?: Also found in the Traffic Sources header of Analytics, this section lists sites that have led users to land at your site. Whether linked from a ‘Friends’ page or mentioned in discussion, your site is getting hits thanks to these sites. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can do with data you find in Referring Sites.

What’s Great About It: Most internet marketers understand the value of sites linking to your webpage but not many truly grasp the importance of quality when it comes to inbound links. This Analytics section lets you see what sites are linking to yours that you may not know about, even if you do focus on link-building. This can be an invaluable method of making friends and forming connections with other site owners that could be useful in the future. This section also makes it easy to stay on top of what sites are linking to you and for what reason. At best, you’ve got an advocate who loves your products and wants to share them with his or her readers. At worst, you might have a hater who links to you product by way of trashing it (along with your reputation). Either way, it’s important to know!

Funnel Visualization

What Is It?: Found under the ‘Goals’ section of Analytics, Funnel Visualization is less of a metric than a useful tool but it’s no less important to know about! If you’ve never used a funnel, now is the time to learn. Funnels let you set up a path to track your visitors through that offers insight on entrance and exit habits of users on your site. You can see how many visitors enter at each ‘step’ of the path and at what point in the process visitors drop off your site.

What’s Great About It: This is particularly useful to e-commerce business sites but really any website owner can find value in setting up funnels. Think back to the brick-and-mortar store example. The average customer takes a meandering path through a store before deciding on a purchase and completing a transaction. Some shoppers even leave the register line to go grab a last-minute item. Internet shoppers are no different; funnels are perfect for analyzing the behavior of your customers through a shopping cart checkout process, a search function or special promotion. You’ll know how many visitors came and went at every step of your site’s shopping experience, which in turn will help you to improve upon and optimize the experience.

My favorite section in Analytics will always be the Map Overlay – talk about globalization! What is your favorite Google Analytics metric? Let us know in the comments section or get in touch if you’re interested in a free consultation on how Analytics metrics can improve your site’s performance in all areas of internet marketing.

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