Tracking Website Metrics on Google Analytics, Part 2: Sources, Referrals, Search Terms, and Campaigns

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Last week, we looked at basic site traffic and engagement metrics on Google Analytics, such as visits, page views, time on site, bounce rate, etc. We also looked at how to look at the performance of individual pages on your site.

This week, let’s take a look at a few other metrics that you should be looking at regularly. (Haven’t set up Google Analytics yet? Here’s how.)

Sources

From where are people coming to your site? The Sources report answers this question. Click on Traffic Sources on the sidebar to see your options.

These are the four ways people visit your site:

  1. Direct, i.e., people who typed in your site URL into the address bar
  2. Referrals, i.e., a link on another site
  3. Search, which includes
    1. Organic and
    2. Paid, i.e., ads

Clicking on the All Traffic link under Traffic Sources will give you your top sources. Here are ours.

All Sources Report in Google Analytics

After direct, we got the most visits from organic Google search. But for referrals, we got the most traffic from the YourStory article about us. Social media also gets us a lot of traffic: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are all in our top ten sources.

But don’t just look at number of visits. Twitter (t.co are Twitter links) gets us as much traffic as Facebook (not counting Facebook mobile), but the time on site is much lower. LinkedIn gets us fewer visits, but way better engagement, going by metrics like visit duration, pages per visit, and repeat visits. But might this be because people who know Nilesh and me are looking at our updates on LinkedIn and visiting the site? Visits from friends are always welcome (hi, there!), but this kind of visitor isn’t likely to convert.

Visits from punestartups.org and womensweb.in might be more relevant for us: we’re getting a lower bounce rate and more repeat visitors from punestartups.org, but more time on site from womensweb.in.

You can take a deeper look at your referrals by clicking on the Referrals link on the left. Click here to learn about how to get a deeper look at links to your site.

Search

Let’s take a deeper look at organic search. Personally, this is my favorite thing to look at in web metrics, because more than any other metric, this gives you why people are visiting your site.

First of all, you might see a big chunk of visits that’s marked “(not provided)”. Google Analytics does not provide search terms from users who are logged in to Google, and this row of numbers indicates those users.

Take a look at these hypothetical stats for a PHP development firm in Pune, India.

Search Terms for PHP Development Company

What can you tell from this data? [understand php development] seems like someone who’s trying to learn PHP. [software development pune] might be a prospective customer (or maybe a competitor). [php job pune] is probably a job-seeker.

So if you’re the business-owner who’s focused on marketing, the only relevant search term here is the second one. Plus these visitors are spending a lot of time on the site and looking through several pages, which is a good sign.

However, this isn’t enough data to take a call. Look carefully through this report: you’ll probably find many search terms that have just one or two clicks but are really relevant for you. You’ll find many that are not. Use the relevant keywords more often in your website and marketing materials, and try to cull the irrelevant ones. This should help you get more  visitors who are looking for what you’re trying to sell.

Campaigns

Are you using Google’s URL builder tool? If you’re not, start using it now. If you are, this is where you see the results of your campaigns. This is a great way to keep track of the results of your various marketing efforts.

That’s all for this week: next week, we’ll delve into reports that tell you more about your visitors. And if you have questions, let me know!

Read the other two posts in this series:

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