In an earlier post, we shared how to get started with the basic reporting features in Google Analytics. Though providing useful data, the out-of-the-box reports do not always help one see the complete picture. Once you are familiar with the standard reports, its time to move to the next level, and start asking some smart ‘Why‘ questions.
The right ‘Why‘ question can, in turn, trigger a number of other pertinent questions, the answers to which will provide valuable insights and learning points for the future.
Here are a couple of hypothetical scenarios to understand this better:
For a given period, you see a sudden spike in website traffic from foreign countries.
In itself, the information is interesting, but to understand why these people are visiting your website, here are some questions you need to ask:
– What is the source of this increased traffic?
Asking this question will help you determine whether the new visitors consist of your current subscribers or represent untapped segments. If this spike can be attributed to a specific ad campaign, social media message or promotional email, then you would want to focus on the navigational flow (pages they are browsing through) and goal conversions (pages where they can take desired actions, e.g. register for the event). On the other hand, if this traffic is driven by organic search conversion, then it may indicate a successful search engine optimization strategy. Once you determine the top source or sources, then you replicate or enhance that strategy in the future to further strengthen your results from the targeted traffic source.
– Which geographical locations are sending the most traffic?
Do these locations match the demographics of your existing or targeted international audience? If yes, the analysis may confirm that your audience is engaged with you and looking for information and updates. Alternatively, these new visitors may indicate an increased level of interest from an audience you have not yet tapped.
There is a higher than average bounce rate on one particular page on your website.
Before taking some corrective action, you’d want to ask why many people are landing on this page and not navigating to other pages on the website.
– What fraction of the total traffic to this page came from searches?
If a significant amount of traffic came from organic or paid searches, check the page content to see if it matches the keywords that brought visitors to it in the first place. Perhaps the content needs to be updated to provide more relevant information. And maybe you need to add prominent links to other sections on the website.
– Is this page a home page or a prominent landing page?
Your home page getting a high bounce rate may indicate problems with the page’s content and/or design. Similarly, if you have built a special landing page for a role-based section of the website, but not enough people are navigating to linked pages, then you may need to dig a little deeper. Are they bouncing off because this page does not match their demographics or because it doesn’t provide them enough information?
– Which devices are resulting in higher bounces?
Typically, people spend more time on a website if they are using their desktop computers or laptops. However, their behavior can be significantly different if they are using a tablet or smartphone. The smaller screen sizes on such devices, limited connectivity and the mobile nature of such visitors may result in much shorter visits and higher than average bounce rates. If a significant amount of traffic is coming from mobile devices, that may explain why the bounce rate is higher than average.
The above two examples drive home the point that data in a given report should not be taken at its face value. One needs to correlate the data, add additional dimensions, and create meaningful patterns. Of course, for each question that you ask, the answer you come up will be relevant to the nature off your business and your audience. However, the core premise remains the same. You would need to draw intelligent inferences, take corrective steps to re-align your web strategy to your goals, and learn from your successes and failures to continue delivering high results in the future.
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- Bounce rates revisited