How to Draw Conclusions from Google Analytics Data (Part 2)

Since there was too much to say from last time, I'm continuing thoughts on drawing Analytics conclusions today.

Bounce Rate

Crap. Bounce rate went up.

  • Did it increase drastically? For the most part, bounce rates don't change more than a few percent unless something major happened. Did you get a powerful link that brought in ton of traffic? (In which case, maybe the call-to-action on that page wasn't strong enough.)
  • Does your website have a blog, or is it a blog? Blogs tend to have excruciatingly high bounce rates, since individual blogposts answer a question and once the question is answered, the visitor will move on. The key for a blog: is your high bounce rate coupled with a high new visits rate and/or a low subscription number? If visitors never return (your new visits rate is high), then you need to work to bring it down. Likewise with subscription rates – what can you do to make people subscribe? Sometimes it's as simple as making a call-to-action to subscribe a little more “in your face”.

Yes! Bounce rate went down!

  • Like pageviews, a decrease in bounce rate can sometimes be a negative thing. Is it difficult for people to find what they want so they have to visit multiple pages?
  • Did you start displaying your phone number prominently? We've become a web-based world, but that doesn't mean people don't pick up the phone anymore. Many companies actually prefer to be contacted by phone, by burying any web-based means of contact and displaying phone number in the forefront. In this case, the call-to-action is to call so a low bounce rate (hopefully) means they took that action. By creating a means of measurement for this (by using a service for it), you'll be able to successfully track this assumption.

A note on bounce rates: good vs. bad bounce rates depend heavily on your industry, as well as website vs. blogs. The flyte website typically stays around a 75% bounce rate, this blog about an 80% bounce rate. I've seen them get as low as 20-30%, typically in the hotel/inn industry.

Average Time on Site

Crap. Average time on site went down.

  • Are your conversions going down too? Then you might have an issue on your hands. If people are spending less time on the site, and not doing what you want them to do while they're there, take a look at your top landing pages and optimize them in order of popularity. Take time to make your call-to-action bold and attractive.
  • Did pageviews also go down? That might not be a bad thing. Did you add a better call-to-action? Check your conversions. They might be up!

Yes! Average time on site went up!

  • Has bounce rate also gone up? Then there might be a problem. Luckily, people are still taking the time to look for what they need; but then they're leaving. Make it easy for your visitors with easy-to-use navigation and, can't say it enough, your call-to-action.
  • Add a really popular new page or blog post? Or perhaps you have a great new incoming link? In that case, people are actually reading what you write – which is fantastic! (Find out which page/post it is by sorting your top content by time on site.)

New Visits

Crap. New visits went down.

  • First decide: do you want new visitors? If the answer is “yes”, then have you been writing articles? Blog posts? New content? That's where you should start. Then, try social media and social bookmarking. You'll reach new audiences (nearly) every day there).
  • If you want to keep your old visitors coming back, give them a reason to. Add a blog, or a section that changes often. Maybe an email newsletter is the answer: incorporating links to keep your visitors hungry for more.

Yes! New visits went up!

  • Have you been active on social media or social bookmarking sites? Make sure you're well aware of any pages that go viral (and thank folks who might have ReTweeted you 😉 .)
  • Check your traffic sources for where these new visitors are coming from. That should share even more insight.

In conclusion

Google Analytics isn't perfect and you can't see why every visitor does what they do on your website. But, you can get a great picture and even gain a lot of insight.

Nicki Hicks
Mind reading through Analytics