How to read your Google Analytics

J BothaJ Botha
Internet and Online Marketing Services. Image of laptop and Website Analytics in Calgary

So for today I’m going to change things up a bit. Part of the big struggle Small to Medium Sized Business owners experience is to understand the metrics or analytics of their company website. Although Google created an amazing tool called Google Analytics, only a very business owners know to how to harness the valuable information and data from Google Analytics.

In reality, I know how busy a business owner’s day can be. Therefore, a lot of business owners decide to hire a Web specialist or third party Web Services company to do the heavy lifting for them. However, it does not hurt to take some time to familiarize yourself with Google Analytics. First, it will only help you understand your website better. See what works and what does not work. Second, you will be able to determine whether your “web guy” is doing his job.

In this article, I will show you how to access your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have access to your account, then I highly recommend you to get access sooner than later. I will also discuss the Basics of Acquisition and why it’s important. Furthermore, I will show you how to access your website Behavior. And last but not least I will talk about Conversions.

Tip, never give your Networking IT guy access to your Google Analytics account. There is absolutely no reason for him/her to have access to this information unless he/she is in charge of your website, which I don’t recommend. Don’t get a heavy duty mechanic to replace your vehicle’s electronics. Both might be in the same industry. However, they don’t have anything in common.


Now the first thing you will see when logging into your Google Analytics account is your website Audience Overview. The audience overview is probably the most relevant data of all the Google Analytics reports. The Google Analytics audience overview provides you with a lot of data however only a few are essential. The following points are what you should take note of:

  • Info Graph. The information graphic shows you in the selected date range how your website performed based on sessions.
  • Sessions. The sessions box shows you how many raw sessions your site had in the selected dates in the top right corner.
  • Page-Views. The Page-Views shows you how many sessions are accessing your Subpages within your Website. Normally this should be much higher than Sessions. A higher Page-View count shows that people are browsing your sub or landing pages.
  • Bounce rate. The Bounce rate of your website is critical to determine if your website is doing its job. The higher the Bounce rate, the more people “Bounce” away once they have come across your site. So always make sure that your bounce rate is low. When using Google AdWords or Paid Advertising your Bounce Rate will be higher than normal.
  • New vs. Returning Visitors. The pie chart on the right side shows you of all the sessions how many people are new visitors and how many are returning to your website.

Each and every website is different. Make sure that your Google Analytics are on par with your Online Marketing Strategy.


The Acquisition tab will show you a few key points that are valuable essential. Now that we know what website sessions are, the next question to ask is. How many of those sessions come from Organic Search, Referrals, Direct traffic or Social Media. The acquisition tab will provide you with that exact data. The following are a few important metrics you should take note of:

  • Acquisition General Box. Right below the brightly colored charts are the acquisition information of your website. This box shows you how your visitors came across your site.Organic Search. A well Optimized website will always have Organic Search right at the top of the chart. In this example, above it shows us that most of the sessions came from Organic Search. This Google Analytics information shows me that the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) I’ve done on this website is finally paying off.
  • Referral. The Referral tab shows you how many websites or emails links towards your site. If you have an excellent Online Marketing Strategy, your Referral tab should come in second.
  • Direct. Pretty much self-explanatory. Direct Traffic shows us how many visitors typed your URL directly into the browser. The easier your URL is, the higher your direct traffic will be.
  • Social. Social Media. The Social tab shows us how many visitors link towards your site from any social media accounts.

Few things to keep in mind with Acquisition. Google Analytics allows you to click on these items to break it down. However, you will quickly find that they don’t give you all the information. Allot of the data will be categorized under “Not Set”. The reason it shows us “not set” is because of Google Privacy Terms and Conditions. A Visitor gets added to the “not set” list if they are logged into their Gmail account.


The Behavior section shows you how your pages and sub pages are performing. The Behavior tab is the tab to go to if you are not too sure whether your landing pages or subpages are working or not. The homepage of your website is usually at the top. However, keep in mind not every website is the same.

The forward slash “/” resembles your Homepage. In this example, above you can see that this websites Homepage carries all the heavy lifting. Their Projects page comes in at second place, and so it goes on. If your site has a Low page Page-View count, then the chances are that your website is badly structured. A well-structured website that follows a great Online Marketing Funnel Strategy should have a higher Page-View score than the entire overall sessions.

Different from Page-Views are the Bounce Rate. The Bounce Rate will always be shown in a total % mark. The Higher your website Bounce Rate, the worse off you are. A healthy bounce rate is between 30% to 60%. Once again it all depends on the type of site you are running. The Bounce Rate also shows Google if the content on the website is relevant towards the directed visitors. A High Bounce Rate (like for instance 85%) shows Google that your page relevancy is quite low therefore your rankings will start plummeting. A great website design and fantastic strategic website content should help lower your overall Bounce Rate.

Remember as I mentioned before Paid Search will elevate your Bounce Rate percentage. Always try and find a sweet spot that won’t raise your Bounce Rate but keep it at a steady percentage. With all this said, the bounce rate shows you whether your Online Marketing is working or not.


In Conclusion, to this article, I would like to discuss the very last topic. Understanding the importance of your website Conversions will benefit you in the long run. Conversions is a great tool that you should set up yourself. It gives your critical data that will help you determine if the amount of money you are spending in Online Marketing is working. However, keep in mind that each and every website is different, but they all do follow a similar pattern.

Goal Conversion helps your set up a process where you can set a Goal URL or Goal page. Goal Conversion works in the following way. Let’s say you are a local Waste Management company that rents out Garbage bins. It is important for you to know how many people are visiting your pricing table subpage. And of those visitors how many people are submitting a lead on the website. When you set up a Goal URL or Goal page, you can start tracking how many people have successfully submitted a form on your site based on total visitors or sessions. With this data, you can then determine if your website strategy is working or not. Keep in mind that it does take an experienced individual to get a great working Conversion plan going.

In Short, your website Google Analytics is paramount to determine if your site design, development, strategy, and content is working for you. Always keep in mind that your site should be designed, developed and implemented on a strong Online Marketing plan. A website without a plan is like a vehicle without an engine. You can see it, but it doesn’t do anything.