Common Insights

Below, we’ll cover some of the most common topics when it comes to actually using Google Analytics data to gain useful information about how your users are interacting with your website. These include:

Creating a measurement plan

A measurement plan helps provide a clear definition of your organization’s objectives and goals, and will allow you to measure the progress towards said goals.

The three sections to a measurement plan are:

  • Objectives
  • KPIs
  • Measurement Metrics

A good measurement plan will cover the following three areas:

  • Acquisition: how are you planning on acquiring traffic to your sites? Which channel will you prioritize?
  • Behavior: what are you expecting visitors to do when they arrive at your site? Do you want them to view certain pages, videos, or take certain actions?
  • Outcomes: Which outcomes deliver value to your organization? Ex: Signing up for a newsletter

Five steps to creating a measurement plan:

  1. Identify business objectives
    1. Why does your website exist?
    2. Examples: to create awareness, to highlight events, improving user engagement
  2. Identify goals for each objective
    1. Goals should be specific strategies you can leverage to accomplish the business objectives. They need to be actionable, measurable, and understandable
    2. Examples: for create awareness, the goal could be to reinforce  offline/online advertising, for highlight events, the goal could be to engage the community via local events
    3. It can help to start your goals off with a verb to imply action
  3. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs)
    1. A KPI is a metric that helps you understand how you are doing against your objectives
    2. Examples: branded traffic, conversions on newsletters, # of downloads, visitor loyalty
  4. Identify the targets
    1. Targets are predetermined numerical values that indicate success or failure
    2. Examples: 7k visits/month, 45 downloads/month
    3. If you are unsure where to start, pick your best guess, or reference the amount you usually get. You can always readjust the number after the first month.
  5. Identify valuable segments for analysis
    1. Most important groups of people, sources, onsite behavior, outcomes

After these five steps, it’s important to analyze your data and adjust and improve your goals.

Which are my most visited pages?

To view pages with the most page views go to: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

  • The default is to sort pages by most page views, so you’ll want to click “Unique Pageviews” to filter out repeats
  • To have a reference point to see how well pages are doing, you can click the comparisons icon in the upper right hand corner to compare to the site average. Pages higher than the site average will appear with a green bar to the right while pages lower than the site average will appear with a red bar to the left of the average.

What does this data mean and what can I do with it?

  • There’s a reason why some pages are being viewed more than others. Consider the following factors that could be influencing the page views each page gets:
    • Think about your target audience and the type of content they are looking for. Is the content on your page relevant and useful to your target audience? 
    • Is it easy to find/prominent in the navigation bar? If a page is difficult to get to, less users will be viewing it. You’ll want to put your most relevant and important information on a prominent part of your site. This could mean using the top level navigation bar, adding a callout on the homepage, or featuring it in a news section on your homepage.
  • Use your more popular pages to link pages/information that are lacking attention. Use your higher traffic pages to your advantage by linking important information or pages/posts you want to bring more attention to. Some things to consider adding would be:
    • Newsfeed: Adding a Newsfeed can help bring attention to new posts/pages on your site
    • Events: Adding an Events block will help highlight any important events you have coming up
    • CTA buttons/links: Placing Call to Actions on high traffic pages is a great way to help boost the number of conversions on your site. Be sure the content of the CTA connects with your audience, and the page it is on, in a way that compels them to click on the link.
    • Card Deck: Using a Card Deck is a great way to add a visually appealing layout element to bring attention to certain content. You can choose from an Info Card Deck, an Image Overlay Car Deck, and a Call to Action Card Deck.

Are my Call to Actions working?

Call to Actions on Georgetown websites typically take the form of a button, link, or a CTA Card deck. The content of a call to action should connect with your audience in a way that compels them to click on the link, but how do we know if the sites users are actually clicking the links? By setting goals within Google Analytics, you will be able to track the users that are completing a certain action on your site. Only 20 goals can be set up per view so it’s important to be mindful of the goals you are setting up. 

To set up a goal go to Admin, then click “Goals” under the View section. Click the New Goal button in the upper left-hand corner. You can choose from the templates or select custom to create a custom goal. Next, hit continue. You’ll then be asked to name your goal and specify the goal type. For tracking CTA’s, the type will be “Event”.

How can I improve user flow?

User flow can be defined as the path a user takes through your website to complete a certain task. User flow is an important part of user’s experience on your site, and improving the user flow can help users complete their tasks in a more efficient manner leading to more conversions for you. 

To get to the User Flow report, first go to Audience (under Reports) > Users Flow.

Once at the User Flows report you will be able to see:

  • The relative volume of traffic to your site by the dimension you choose (e,g., traffic sources, campaign, browser)
  • The relative volume of pageviews per page or collection of pages
  • Specific metrics for connections, nodes, and node exits when you hover over them

What does this data mean and what can I do with it?

  • By sorting the volume of traffic by different dimensions you will be able to get a better understanding of the volume of users coming from each source. For example, sorting by the “Medium” dimension will give you an overview of the user flow in relation to the different dimensions being used. If you want to focus on a particular medium such as CPC or referrals, click on the segment and select the “View only this segment” option. Doing this will allow you to see the User flow just from the specified segment. If you look at the user flow from referrals, you are able to see the paths that are being taken by the user and make any necessary changes to better suit the goals of the website.
  • Are there any paths that are more popular than others? Is the more popular path expected or something unexpected. Paying attention to these paths is important as it will help you see if the your users are able to find what they are looking for and let you know if you need to restructure the site to better the user experience.
  • Look at high drop-off pages. Is there something preventing users from moving on through the path you wish users to take? Is there something you can add to the site to encourage traffic flow? Some ideas to keep traffic flowing through your site are:
    • Add call to actions to prompt a response from the users.
    • Scatter some internal links throughout the page. It’s important to make sure the links lead to important and relevant information.

How can I improve my landing pages?

Google Analytics defines a landing page as the first page a user visits during their session. It’s good to look at the landing page report so we have an understanding of the users’ first impressions of the site. To get to the landing pages report go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.

Once on the Landing Pages report you will be able to see the landing pages sorted by the number of sessions on each page. It will also give you information on bounce rates and information on any goals you have set.

What does this data mean and what can I do with it?

  • When you see a page with a high bounce rate it’s a good idea to investigate why. Since a landing page is the first page a user sees on your site, a high bounce rate likely means the user did not find what they were looking for on that page. 
  • Using secondary dimensions, such as “Source”, are a great way to gain further insight into your landing pages. Using source as the secondary dimension will tell you where your users are coming from before landing on the page. If you see a high bounce rate for a particular page, the source can help you find the disconnect. 

Where are users leaving my site?

You can see where users leave your site by viewing the Exit Pages. Exit Pages are the last page a user is on before the session ends or before they leave the site. To view the exit pages go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages.

What does this data mean and what can I do with it?

  • There could be multiple reasons why users are leaving your site on a specific page. One reason is that the users found the information they were looking for. If this is the case, it’s normal to have a higher exit rate on these pages. A good thing to do on these pages is to add a Call to Action to conclude the users journey through your site. Depending on your site’s objective, this could be in the form of signing up for an informational newsletter or downloading an application form.

All about bounce rates

The bounce rate measures the percentage of users who land on a page and leave without triggering any actions. You can find the bounce rate in multiple places in google analytics:

  • The Audience Overview report provides the overall bounce rate for your site.
  • The All Traffic report (Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium) provides the bounce rate for each source/medium pair.
  • The All Pages report (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages) provides the bounce rate for individual pages.

Having a high bounce rate could mean a few different things:

  • The quality of the content is low and not engaging
    • If this is the case, try and add more engaging content such as CTA’s, videos, and links to similar pages/information.
  • There is a disconnect with your audience and the page content
    • If you think this is the problem, look at the source the users are coming from. Does the source match the content on the page? If not, try to bridge the gap between the referral and the content on the page.
  • Your users found the information they were looking for
    • Having a higher bounce rate is not always a bad thing. For example, if a user visits a page looking for information on a program deadline, they likely visit the page, look at the deadline, and then exit the site. Even though the user found exactly what they were looking for, this would still count as a bounce for the page since no further action was taken. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to look at the type of content on a page when looking at the bounce rate. If the purpose of the page is to inform, with no need to take further action, then it’s normal to have a higher bounce rate than other pages. On the other hand, if the purpose of the page is to engage your users, then a higher bounce rate is not ideal.
  • If one of your website’s goals is to interact with prospective students or to inform about a degree program, creating a segment for “New Users” can help give insight into actions amongst new users. Since new users are likely your target market, it can help to note which pages have a lower bounce rate to get some ideas as to what content they are engaging with.

All about referrals

In Google Analytics, a referral shows the sites your users are coming from. In other words, it shows which sites referred the user to your site. To view Referrals, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.

What does this data mean and what can I do with it?

The Referral report can help you measure the impact other websites have on your traffic. The Source will tell you the URL of the site that referred to yours. Clicking on the URL will give you the specific page that has mentioned your site. It can be helpful to know which sites have been referring to your website and the context of the pages they are in. For the majority of the Georgetown sites, the top referrals will likely be from other Georgetown affiliated websites. It’s a good idea to keep track of these sites and work with them to make sure the information being displayed is up to date.