Define the Questions to Find Answers: Using Google Analytics
To get started, choose one page that’s important to you, and name one or two major goals for that page: what do you want people to do?
What defines success?
- How many different people see the page?
- How long people stay on the page, or in the section?
- Whether they…
- Click on a particular link?
- Share the page?
- Watch a video?
- Download a PDF?
- Send an email?
- Complete a form?
- Search for a congregation?
- Make a donation?
What might constitute failure?
- Search for a question you thought you’d answered?
- Leave UUA.org?
- Fail to perform any particular mark of success?
Looking for Answers in Google Analytics
We can assess the effectiveness of individual pages when we know the goals of that page:
- What’s the single most important piece of content on your page? Is it a link to another page or site? A form? A video?
- What do you most want people to do after visiting your page? Find a congregation? Sign up for an email list? Visit your Facebook page?
The “Behavior > Site Content > Content Drilldown” report shows the relative popularity of different sections of the site. Google sorts content by page URLs.
The “Behavior > Site Content > All Pages” report shows the relative popularity of individual URLs on the site. If you click on a particular URL, you can select the “Navigation Summary” tab to see where people come from and go from that page.
Remember to check “Behavior > Events > Pages” for clicks on external links (which will look like site exits but may be exactly your goal) or other activities like downloading a PDF or watching a video (anything Tag Manager has been set up to track).
Apply Table Filters to Reports to find the specific data you’re looking for.
Apply Segments to Reports to isolate and compare subsets of your data, e.g. see what new visitors do as compared to returning visitors.
The Page Analytics Chrome extension can, to a limited degree, help show where on a page people are clicking. Thankfully, eye-tracking and click-tracking studies consistently support best usability practices.
“Behavior > Site Search” gives data about searches performed by people already on our site, so it tends to be more specific and helpful than the “Acquisition > Search Console” area, which is data about searches that occurred on Google.com or another web-wide search engine.
Reviewing the keywords that led to views of your pages—or, perhaps more importantly, the keyword searches that started on your pages—can help you optimize your content to meet user demand.
Putting popular content front-and-center not only increases user satisfaction, it also helps you funnel readers to content you think is important. For example, if you have information on "child dedications" but people are looking for information on "baptisms," be sure to include information about how baptisms are related to child dedications on your page. That way, people looking for "baptism" won't get lost in a sea of empty search results; instead, they'll find your page which explains why Unitarian Universalists don't normally have baptisms.
Review site search data for any and all iterations of words that you hope will lead people to your pages, and make sure you’re using the most popular ones in your text.