An easy way to learn more about your audience – and their content consumption habits – is by taking advantage of Google Analytics and the metrics that it offers.
You can see who is visiting your site, what they're viewing, where they're coming from and more.
Below are ten metrics that you should be paying attention to in order to get to know your audience a little better.
1. Page Views
This is an obvious one. Page views are one of the most important metrics (if not the most) to pay attention to if you're a publisher. You can track which content gets the most hits, and which content gets next to none. Knowing which content is the most-viewed can help your editorial team decide which topics to pursue.
2. Unique Visitors
Google Analytics recently changed it's terminology for visits and unique visitors. Visits are now "sessions" and unique visitors are now "users". A unique vistor, or user, is an individual that has accessed your site. A unique visitor is determined by their IP address in combination with a cookie on their browser. Whether this individual user visits your site once or 20 times, they will only be counted once.
Once someone lands on your site, you want to keep them there as long as possible. Average Time On Page and Pages Per Visit are both metrics that can provide insight into whether users are finding your content interesting enough to browse and click through. It helps if you give readers a little nudge by making suggestions of where they should go next, for example, by providing links to related content.
4. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate keeps track of how many people land on your site and leave without visiting any other page. Monitoring this metric can help you identify when you have attracted the wrong people or the right people to the wrong page.
Google Analytics allows you to set up Goals. You can track things like newsletter signups, completed Ecommerce transactions or any purpose/measure of success that you're hoping to achieve with your site. The product provides you with a Conversion Rate which is, as an example, the percentage of users that signed up for your newsletter out of total visits.
6. Conversion Sources
It's also important to follow traffic by source and how that relates to conversions, whether you're tracking things like newsletter signups or Ecommerce transactions. In order to do this, you must have Goals and Custom Reports set up. Once you have that set up, you can easily track which sources, whether it's Twitter or daily email blasts, are the most valuable in terms of your site's goals.
7. Time of Day
Setting up custom reports in Google Analytics allows you to track when your content is consumed the most. For some site that's early in the morning during commuting hours while readers are on the go, or at the very end of the day before they turn in for the night. This tutorial walks through the steps of setting up a custom report to track time of day metrics.
8. Mobile Vs. Desktop
Within Google Analytics, you can check how many page views are coming from desktop, mobile or tablet. You can also see which browser they're using. If your mobile traffic is growing, you can take measures to optimize your site for those readers.
Google is a huge traffic driver to most sites. Google Analytics lets you see the terms and phrases that users googled to get to your site. This can help you optimize page titles, meta descriptions and content to get the most traffic for keywords relevant to your site.
10. Referrals from Social Media
Social media is another big traffic driver to your site. By tracking how much traffic comes from each social channel, you can see which network to put the most time and effort in. For example, if a majority of your traffic is coming from Twitter and very little is coming from Facebook, then you can change your social strategy to reflect that.