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While Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for reporting and data collection, it can be a little overwhelming at times, especially if you are new to the platform. This post will look at the different data sets that are provided in the standard Google Analytics display and give you a brief overview of what they actually mean from the perspective of business marketing.

Google Analytics can be configured to track a huge number of different activities, but we will begin with the basics. When you are getting started the main points of interest are:

Number of visitors: This tells you how many people have visited your site and is usually divided into unique and returning visitors so you can see how many people are coming back and how many are new to your site.

Page Views: This is how many pages have been looked at on your site. It tells you whether your visitors are sticking around and engaging with your website content or leaving after they have found the information they are looking for.

Interactions per page: Even better than spending time on your site is when your visitors click on links, contact you or share your page on social media. The number of interactions your visitors make shows how engaged they are with your site.

Bounce rate: This shows you how many visitors have left your page straight away after landing on it. A high bounce rate is different from a visitor who has had their needs met on the first page and a high bounce rate often (but not always) indicates a problem with your website or your targeting.

Time spent on page: The longer a visitor spends on your site the more likely it is that they are reading your content in depth. If they are only there for a few seconds before leaving it could indicate that your content is not quite meeting their needs or expectations.

Where your audience come from (acquisition): This is often one of the most interesting metrics to look at. It shows you where your visitors are coming from. Some will be organic search, others may be paid advertising, referrals from other sites or from social media. Acquisition shows you where you are successful in attracting people and where you might need to apply more thought. You can see if that online directory you’re charging a fortune for is actually worth the cost or not and if that social media campaign is really making a difference.

There is a wealth of information on Google Analytics, some of which will be relevant and some that won’t, depending on your marketing strategy and goals. At the very least if you track the above data you should be able to get a general idea of how your website is performing, and where your visitors are coming from.