Analytics: Data Tells a Story (Part II)

- Lance Johnson 04.07.2014

Yesterday we took a look at how analytics overview data can be extremely useful for our clients to help learn more about their users and how they interact with the website. Summary data is certainly useful, but if we stop with just the basic dashboard overview, we would miss some essential information.

The content detail chart for this client - a church - clearly shows that the home page is the number one page of the site, both in terms of total pageviews and average time spent per visit. As a general rule we would expect that the homepage would receive the highest number of pageviews, as most people will start their visit there. Second to this is the page which features the mass times for the church. We already suspected from the summary graph we examined yesterday that visitors to the site were interested in mass times considering the bump in pageviews the day before and the day of Ash Wednesday, and the content detail data confirms this suspicion for us.

We can break this down even further using Google Analytics’ secondary dimensions.

Using secondary dimensions, we are able to see that traffic to the homepage is coming from three different sources: organic search, referral, and direct. Organic search means that users are finding this page through search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. Organic search is different from “paid search” which would be clicking on an advertisement. This client doesn’t do any paid search advertising, so we know that any search engine traffic is going to be organic. Referral traffic refers to visitors who arrive on the site by clicking on a link that is not from a search engine. This might mean that the visitor found the site on Yelp, or that a blog somewhere else linked to the site. It could also be that the user arrived at the particular page by clicking through from elsewhere on the site or by clicking on a link in an e-mail that the church sent out. Direct traffic refers to users who simply typed the URL into their browser and went directly there. This would also capture users who copied and pasted a URL from an e-mail or other source rather than clicking on it.

Having this type of data is very useful as it helps us to know how users are finding the site. Obviously most people are coming to the homepage as a result of organic search. With a little more digging, we can actually discover exactly which search terms visitors were using to find the site. It is good to know this! This is data that we can use to start doing some greater search engine optimization. We know that people are very interested in Mass times for this church, so we might decide to beef up the keywords on that particular page. We might decide that we want to expand the contents of the Mass times page to invite users to explore other parts of the site.

At Green Egg Media we really believe in the power of data-driven decision making. When we work with clients we don’t just fly by the seat of our pants. We use every tool at our disposal to make sure that our clients and their users are getting the best experience possible.

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