Google Analytics reveals many things about what your visitors get up to, and much of it you may not think is very fair, as it seems the majority hang around your site for only a few seconds. This is very disconcerting, as you’ve probably put in a lot of hard work into creating your content, and all that wonderful traffic that have found their way to your site don’t seem to be very interested.
My one consolation is that it may not take that much time to read your post, or even to read the beginning of it and decide whether this is appropriate. The average time of making a decision about a website is under 3 seconds, and mostly this is much quicker than that, especially if you are very adept at flicking through material on the net looking for something this is relevant to you.
Here’s how to view and understand visitor behaviour in Google Analytics. Once you’ve entered your account, look for the Behavior link in the left sidebar and click on it to extend it to show New vs Returning, Frequency and Recency, and Engagement.
The New vs Returning pie-chart you will already have seen in the main dashboard page:
And even though it’s nice to know that almost 11% of my visitors are returning at least once to read my blog, ideally this percentage should be rising. The answer is to provide content and promote it to encourage more returns, given your visitors something worth-while to make them come back for more.
There are lots of interactive things to do on this page, like adapting the pie-chart to show visits, pageviews, visit duration (makes the pie-chart look a little more encouraging) and bounces. The true use of these statistics is to set up a campaign and monitor any changes that happen within this section to see if you are succeeding or not.
The charts that show Frequency and Recency are very revealing:
This shows a severe majority of visitors only visiting once, but only a few very nice ones returning twice, thrice and even four times. Well done to those die-hards who are showing me solidarity by coming back more!
Here you can see how long it takes for visitors to come back; in fact, apart from those that don’t bother, there is very little data to go on, except that there are no trends or patterns to work on here. People will return if there is something valuable they want to read, or if they have been stimulated by promotion or a reminder through social media. I reckon if I didn’t have my ‘Old Tweet’ plugin activated, a lot of my blog would continue to be unread.
The answer is to increase the exposure of my content. Create new stuff that is exciting, relevant, apt and at the forefront of what is going on today. Provide a good reason to return by highlighting existing material that corresponds with trends, answers problems and provides solutions; and encourage a returning policy for those who want to receive information and have to make the effort to get it.
And finally there is Engagement:
This shows how long it takes for visitors to read my stuff before they either leave or go onto another page. If they manage to stay more than a minute, there is a much higher chance they have been looking at more then one post or page, thus reducing my bounce rate. This is something I would very much like to encourage, and this is achieved by providing more incentive to browse, reasons to direct visitors through my navigation, and preferably combined with a call to action that converts into a subscription or sale. You will only benefit if you set up a profitable conversion system at the end of their journey, regardless of how long it takes for them to get there.
If you are interested in Page Depth, then click on the link next to Visit Duration. In my case the statistics do not vary that much, so I haven’t bothered to show them, but they may be relevant to you and your website’s objectives.
I still maintain that even though it’s nice to have Google Analytics at your fingertips to browser through the statistics they provide for you, it’s not worth it unless you put into place a plan of action to improve upon what you see. If you don’t like what the charts show you, do something about it to make a change. Improve your navigation to encourage better browsing habits. Set up a post series to encourage returns for the next installment. Provide a call to action to encourage a conversion system. Create a membership service so people have to return as part of the service your provide for them. But don’t shrug your shoulders and think it’s just bad luck and there is nothing you can do about it!